Concrete and Concrete Products (Industrial Report) - UK - August 2014
“The concrete and concrete products sectors were strongly affected by the economic downturn, and difficult trading conditions prevailed until 2013 when conditions notably improved as the year progressed. The prospects now are for a period of strong growth well ahead of GDP development, with the sector benefiting from renewed buoyancy in the construction sector and continued investment in major infrastructure projects in the civil engineering sector.”
– Terry Leggett, Senior Analyst
This report addresses the following key questions concerning the concrete and concrete products market:
- How strongly will the market develop over the next five years?
- Is that growth sustainable over the entire fiveyears and what will be the market drivers?
- Which regions hold the best prospects?
- Which product sectors now hold the best prospects?
- How have companies involved in the market faired during the downturn that followed 2008?
The construction industry is one of the largest sectors of the UK economy. The concrete and concrete products market tends to be highly cyclical as it is 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 infrastructure, such as roads and tunnels. Ready mixed concrete was first produced in the UK in the 1930s.
Cement: used in virtually all construction applications, ranging from the bonding of bricks for most buildings through to major infrastructure requirements, such as in the water industry. Market potential tends to be limited by its high compressive strength and low tensile strength, which requires steel reinforcement to carry tensile loads. Research is being undertaken 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 that 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
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, and are made from dense aggregates. The lightweight and 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 infrastructure requirements.
Pre-cast structural concrete: structural pre-cast concrete tends to be utilised for floors, beams and frames, and includes 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 sector, though significant concrete piping is also used in road drainage. The major competition to concrete pipes has been plastic pipes, which have increased market share over the past few years, particularly for products under 600 mm, whereas concrete pipes have been far more successful in sizes above this diameter.
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
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