Friday 22 May 2020

NBS Releases Product Manufacturer Shutdown Snapshot

NBS, the leading provider of connected construction information, released findings from its manufacturer business continuity poll. As production lines continue to open up, this timely snapshot looks at how construction materials producers reacted to the COVID-19 shutdown.

While almost all (92%) of respondents saw some or many of their projects delayed or put on hold, sites opening up again will see the situation change daily.

  • Nine out of ten manufacturers saw some or many of their projects delayed or put on hold
  • Only 8% of producers unable to trade during the shutdown
  • A third furloughed staff members, yet under one in ten have laid people off
  • Some manufacturers used the shutdown to progress their digital transformation efforts
  • 10% have upped their marketing spend and many focused on moving marketing materials to digital formats
  • One in five manufacturers severely restricted or unable to provide their services 


A third of manufacturers furloughed some staff, a quarter gave (some) people reduced hours, and one in five stated some or all of its team were unable to work. The furlough scheme appears to be keeping manufacturing employees in jobs, as less than one in ten had laid off staff.

Open for business

A third of product manufacturers were able to carry on business as normal and a half were able to provide some of their services, only 13% were severely restricted and just 8% were unable to trade. Despite the healthy ability to be open for business, only 2% of manufacturers were not expecting sales to fall. Relating to specification, only 10% of firms weren’t expecting a drop in specification enquiries. Two-thirds of manufacturers experienced a fall and one in five were waiting for spec leads to tail off.

To combat the drop in sales and specification,one in ten firms planned or have already boosted their marketing spend.

As you’d expect, 98% of manufacturers have changed how they do things, with 68% significantly so. Only 7% say the shut down has meant that there’s been no change in their ways of working. One in three firms saw an uptick in specifiers wanting information digitally, and two-thirds are providing or intend to do so.

Where possible, manufacturers are embracing digital technology so they can continue to serve their customers. They’re moving to online videos for CPD/training and demonstrating product functions and qualities, offering digital sales tours and meetings as well as investing on upgrading their websites and digital product information.

Supply chain and logistics

One in five say supply chain interruption is a problem and 4% say getting materials/components from suppliers has had an impact, and a similar number say their distributors are closed. One in five say that closed sites or being unable to install onsite has been a problem and a further 9% commented on sites being closed. 92% have seen project delays, with 57% seeing most of their projects paused.

Kerry Barker, project lead, at NBS commented:
“Manufacturers and suppliers have made significant changes to adapt to the situation created by the coronavirus threat, particularly working from home; although some have furloughed and laid off staff.
“While most firms could adapt and deliver much of their services, they faced challenges from external factors such as site closures, supply chain disruption and not being able to meet customers in person.”

Commenting on the poll Lee Jones, Head of Manufacturer Solutions from NBS said:
“The UK’s building product sector appears to be handling the COVID-19 disruption well. Many firms used this time to quicken the pace of their digital transformation.
“They’ve increased their online presence, created video content, streamlined processes. That way they’ll exit the shutdown match fit and ahead of the competition.”

The NBS survey ran from 27 March – 21 April 2020.

Those invited were manufacturers in NBS’insight community and others with whom NBS has an existing relationship. During this period NBS received 63 direct responses.

The level of response to the survey was naturally impacted by the number of customers who had been furloughed, which included some invited to take part in the survey. NBS also gathered data from additional customers to provide insights into how companies have responded to the current lockdown.

About NBS:

NBS is a global leading technology platform that combines the best content and connectivity for anyone involved in the design, supply and construction of the built environment.

For architects, engineers, designers and contractors we provide a cloud-based specification system that enables them to work smarter and reduce their risk.

For building product manufacturers, we help grow their business by exposing their products across the construction project timeline.

Headquartered in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, NBS has a global reach via our permanent bases in both Australia and Canada.

Our roots lie in the UK’s National Building Specification, which for nearly 50 years has been helping the construction industry build better and with lower risk.

Our future lies in cloud-based technologies and connected data, as we fast become the information marketplace for the global construction industry.

Image Credits:

Top image - Michael Browning

2nd Image - Adrian Deweerdt

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