In today’s demanding construction industry, new buildings and infrastructure must be erected faster, more efficiently and more sustainably than ever before as the global population grows to a forecasted 9.7 billion by 2050.
Record demand for residential housing, combined with a lack of skilled construction labor, has led to rising housing prices, which highlights the need to build economically. Contractors must leverage simplified and accessible construction solutions to build competitively in the face of a shrinking labor pool.
Likewise, this high demand has strained building materials manufacturers, who must now find new ways to handle price increases in raw materials brought on by a myriad of world events impacting the economy and supply chains.
Finally, calls for safer and more sustainable materials and construction must also be taken into consideration. Builders are looking to implement solutions with lower VOC and APEO emissions and use fewer resources to minimize their environmental footprint.
As a global leader in construction solutions, BASF is continuously working to design and provide manufacturers and builders with innovative high-quality solutions to meet the challenges of this ever-changing industry.
Speed on the job site
The construction industry in North America is projected to record a compound annual growth rate of 8.4 percent to reach $2497.3 billion USD by 2024, suggesting strong growth despite impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unfortunately, the labor pool may not be adequately equipped to accommodate this growth. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 300,000 vacant jobs in the construction industry in 2018.
While only training and employment incentives can address the skilled construction labor gap, materials with more efficient application processes can help reduce the need for highly skilled laborers.
“Even before COVID, there was a lack of skilled labor in the construction industry,” says Matt Cloward, Industry Marketing Manager at BASF. “BASF helps make the available labor pool more effective by providing construction solutions that offer a simplified use or application method, allowing contractors to recruit from a larger pool.”
One of these products is QUICK-TRIGGER 4333, an additive used for achieving early rain resistance in exterior coatings. It simplifies inventory management and is a season extender, providing flexibility even in poor weather and boasting significantly decreased installation times.
Another efficient additive is ACRONAL 3633, a high-performance all-acrylic binder used to create flooring adhesives that dry quicker and are easier to apply, providing speed and ease-of-use to contractors.
By providing solutions that allow contractors to complete jobs in a greater variety of conditions, these products facilitate faster completion of projects and let contractors move on to their next job.
ACRONAL 4700, for example, is a non-APEO all-acrylic copolymer dispersion for production of EIFS textured top and base coat formulations to provide excellent early rain resistance and water resistance, allowing crews to work into the shoulder months of a construction season.
To meet timeline and cost requirements, building and infrastructure contractors rely on manufacturing companies to produce the required materials reliably and affordably.
The cost of producing these necessary materials is increasing due to disruptions in the global supply chain and market influences from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
BASF works with customers to optimize their processes and equipment without wasting resources like heat, energy or labor. This focus on efficiency helps manufacturers remain competitive by balancing costs and improve throughput to meet high demand.
“High demand is putting pressure on manufacturers to produce more products, and at the same time material costs are going up,” says Cloward. “We develop products that help our manufacturers produce more efficiently and run their lines more quickly.”
BASF also partners with customers to develop new technologies or solutions that expand their plant efficiency and lower overall cost of production. This could be done through reformulations, new product developments or reaching into BASF’s vast network of solutions.
Safety and sustainability
On top of these pressures to build economically and efficiently, builders must ensure their construction process is safe and as sustainable as possible. More contractors are switching to low-VOC and low- or APEO-free solutions while using fewer resources to promote sustainability.
“Part of BASF's DNA is a focus on sustainability and safety,” says Cloward. “Our goal is to produce products that are sustainable and support a more efficient use of resources in the world around us, as well as prioritizing the health and safety of workers on job sites or manufacturing facilities.”
Especially in the coating world, APEO-free solutions are growing in popularity due to their sustainability benefits and reduced fumes for the workers applying them.
ACRONAL 4787 is an APEO-free all-purpose styrene-acrylic binder used in adhesives, primers and coatings. Its low viscosity formulation provides high strength, adhesion and water/alkali resistance.
“There are some potential health risks for products containing APEOs, so we want to be leaders in the industry by providing products that are APEO-free,” says Cloward. “We strive to work with our customers to provide products that produce low or no VOCs, which is a health and safety benefit to workers.”
For roofing, ceiling and insulation applications, ACRODUR high-performance water-based acrylic binders help to replace traditional formaldehyde-containing or solvent-based resins while offering excellent strength, flexibility and versatility, helping reduce environmental impacts.
On the sustainability front, solutions like latex-modified concrete can help reduce the time, money and resources spent on maintaining bridge deck infrastructure. The addition of latex to the concrete solution prevents salt and water from penetrating into the bridge deck and eroding the infrastructure below.
Building for the future
While no one can see into the future, there will always be challenges in the construction industry that require ingenuity, innovation, and collaboration to overcome.
As pandemic restrictions begin to lift, we may see some of the issues surrounding supply chains resolved, but there will always be a demand for sustainable, efficient, and economical construction and manufacturing.
With an extensive portfolio of water-based acrylic and styrene-butadiene latex polymers, formulation additives, and performance additives, BASF will be there to help you design the solution to your building industry challenge.
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