Concrete and Concrete Products (Industrial Report) - UK - April 2013
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For the purposes of this report, the concrete and concrete products market has been segmented into the following sectors:
- ready mixed concrete
- concrete bricks and blocks
- concrete paving and flagstones
- pre-cast structural concrete
- concrete roofing tiles
- concrete pipes
All values quoted in this report are at current prices unless otherwise specified.
The construction industry is one of the largest sectors of the UK economy. The concrete and concrete products market in the UK tends to be highly cyclical, being totally dependent on the UK construction industry, which is itself notoriously cyclical.
The separate sectors of the concrete and concrete product market serve different aspects of the construction industry, and these can generally be identified as follows:
Ready mixed concrete: which is a compound of cement, sand, water and gravel or crushed stone. The product is utilised as a component for the construction of buildings and for the building of infra-structures such as roads and tunnels. Ready mixed concrete was first produced in the UK in the 1930s.
Cement: cement is used in virtually all construction applications, ranging from the bonding of bricks for most building constructions, through to major infra-structure requirements, such as used by the water industry. The market potential tends to be limited by its high compressive strength but low tensile strength, such that steel reinforcement is necessary in order to carry tensile loads. Research is being undertaken in order to attempt to increase the tensile strength of cement based products.
Concrete bricks and blocks: there are two classifications of concrete blocks used by the aggregate concrete block association:
- dense aggregate blocks of natural aggregates which comply with BS882 or BS1047.
- lightweight aggregate blocks, which are manufactured from blast furness slag, furness clinker and lightweight aggregates.
Within these two categories there are three types of blocks:
- solid blocks containing no cavities
- cellular blocks containing formed cavities which do not fully penetrate
- hollow blocks
Blocks are used for a wide variety of applications including general building work, added insulation and architectural masonry units. Some concrete blocks are used in structural, load bearing capacities, such as floor and wall construction in housing, these are made from dense aggregates. The lightweight and particularly aerated concrete blocks are created from blast furness slag and other lightweight aggregates, providing both insulation and fire prevention properties. Lightweight or medium blocks are used in commercial and industrial applications, whereas aerated blocks are normally used for residential construction.
Concrete paving and flagstones: paving has a number of applications, such as pedestrian areas, car parks, urban roadways, industrial pavements, paths and driveways. The market for paving and flagstones is not as intrinsically linked to the construction of buildings, but is more commonly associated with the infra-structure requirements.
Pre-cast structural concrete: structural pre-cast concrete tends to be utilised for floors, beams and frames. The pre-cast structural concrete includes the products that help to form the framework of a building or structure. Its main competitive product is steel and in-situ concrete.
Concrete roofing tiles: are the most common form of roofing in the UK. They tend to compete with traditional materials such as clay and slate.
Concrete pipes: the primary application for concrete pipes is gravity pipes, with the sewerage industry its major end use application, and with significant concrete piping used in road drainage. The major competitive product to concrete pipes has been plastic pipes, which have tended to increase their market share over the past few years. In particular, plastic pipes have gained market share in the market for products under 600 mm, whereas concrete pipes have tended to be far more successful in sizes above this diameter.
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