by Frederike Berg
Challenges of modern scaffolding
The history of scaffolding is probably almost as long as the history of humankind itself. Bold hypothesis, for sure. But actually it’s likely that even prehistoric humans already used scaffolding to paint their cave paintings high up the ceilings of the Lascaux cave in France about 17,000 years ago.
A lot has happened since then, of course. Whereas 100 years ago, for example, wooden scaffolding was still commonplace all over the world, the industrialisation made steel scaffolding more and more popular, especially in Western countries.
The introduction of the system scaffold came with great progress in terms of simplicity, safety and speed. The tube and coupler scaffold was thus quickly displaced as the most popular type of scaffolding.
The modular assembly method in combination with the material steel thus clearly sets today's scaffolding apart from its historical predecessors. But anyone who thinks that this alone makes a modern scaffold is far from the truth. Even if tradition is still valued highly in scaffolding - just look at the popularity of the 07 scaffold, which continues to this day - numerous innovations aim at modernising both existing and future types of scaffolding.
But what can you expect of the modernisations in scaffolding? First and foremost, we have to look at the challenges that current innovations aim to tackle. Here’s four of the recent challenges in scaffolding summed up.
Challenge 1: Tightening of safety regulations in scaffolding
A good innovation in scaffolding does not only have the current challenges in mind, but also always those of the future. A timeless topic here undoubtedly remains the safety of scaffolders and scaffold users. Every accident on scaffolding is one too many, which is why safety regulations for the construction and scaffolding industry are constantly being tightened.
Probably one of the most discussed tightening of safety regulations in recent years is the advanced side protection on the topmost scaffold layer during assembly and dismantling of the scaffold. This is intended to considerably improve the safety of scaffolders during the assembly phase. Safety standards such as the German TRBS 2121 or the English HSE already include the advanced side protection or other fall protection methods while assembling, modifying or dismantling a scaffold - to name just two examples.
However, efficiency and economy should not be disregarded either. And here it is the scaffold manufacturers' turn to develop simple and quick solutions in order to be able to reliably implement common safety standards.
Challenge 2: Shortage of skilled workers
The construction industry is booming. This means full order books also among scaffolders. The only unfavourable situation is when orders cannot be accepted because there is simply a lack of personnel. Like many other sectors, the shortage of skilled workers is currently one of the biggest challenges in scaffolding. And this concerns both qualified and unskilled personnel.
In order to bridge the staff shortage, at least, solutions are being found not only to recruit and retain staff, but also to be able to implement work steps in scaffolding assembly and transport with as little personnel as possible.
Developments aimed at reducing health-related absences of employees by taking ergonomics and other health issues into account are also becoming increasingly relevant.
Challenge 3: Digitalisation in scaffolding
If you ask the construction industry about the biggest challenges and changes of the present and future, one term is guaranteed to come up again and again: digitalisation.
One thing is certain: those who prepare their company for digitalisation are also preparing it for the future. In most cases, processes that have already existed for a long time are rethought in order to increase their productivity and efficiency in the long term.
In scaffolding, for example, the changeover to innovative digital planning and digital IT and logistics processes is becoming more and more relevant. For example,
- the digital recording and tracking of stock material can simplify inventory processes,
- 3D planning can replace the classic pen and paper,
- or working with the BIM method can improve cross-trade exchange and cooperation.
Such changes in the way scaffolding works are already partly reflected in customer wishes and legal requirements.
Even though the push for progress in the digitalisation of the craft is growing, there are also barriers that must first be broken down. Concerns about third-party dependencies and costs as well as data protection are among the common reasons why the digitisation of scaffolding is often eyed with suspicion, despite its long-term benefits. The change from an analogue to a more digital way of working is therefore currently still accompanied by a great deal of persuasion.
Challenge 4: Supply bottlenecks and rising raw material prices
Both the pandemic and the current global political situation have recently caused a lot of turbulence on the raw materials market and in logistics. As in the entire construction industry, these are also an issue for us in scaffolding. Especially due to the fluctuations of steel, aluminium and their primary products as well as the ongoing logistics disruptions, many scaffolding manufacturers also had to increase the prices of their products.
That’s why flexibility is crucial right now. To get your business through this time well, we therefore recommend to consider
- scaffold rental as an alternative to purchase
- investing in scaffolding material and systems that are approved for mixing with systems by other manufacturers
Solutions like these help you to remain flexible in your business decisions and use your stock in a particularly sustainable way.
Of course, as a scaffolding manufacturer, we respond to the modern challenges of scaffolders. In the coming weeks, you can read about the product and service solutions that prepares your business well for the future in our blog.
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