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4 causes of project delays and how you can avoid them


Construction delays are an almost universally accepted part of the industry. In fact, they are so common that according to a McKinsey Global Institute report, 77% of megaprojects around the globe are 40% or more behind schedule.

These figures hold even truer for Saudi Arabia where delays on construction projects can cost as much as $45,000 every day. As building sites are the sum of so many moving parts and individuals, it is understandable how partnering with the wrong formwork provider can adversely impact schedules. Selecting a scaffolding supplier means that they not only support your construction needs and deliver to requirements but also have an in-depth understanding of the applicable safety standards for each product in use across your construction site. It also pays to be aware of the varying degrees of scaffolding-related disruptions so that you can plan accordingly to stay on target.

Whilst it’s understandable that missed timelines may be out of a construction company’s control, some factors causing delays can be mitigated to avoid huge cost overruns. This article highlights four ways in which the wrong formwork provider may be impacting your timelines.





Construction projects are complex ventures that require coordination between many teams of people, goods, and materials. They also require permission and permits from different internal and external bodies to ensure that everything is on track and functioning safely.

A successful project is one that is completed on schedule and handed over within the allocated time, on budget, with required specifications, and to the satisfaction of all stakeholders. As an important support component to construction, sourcing, and building the correct formwork can help make or break a project. The right kind of scaffolding not only facilitates construction, but it also keeps your site safe and helps you meet project deadlines on time.

Detailed below are four scaffolding-related reasons that may be causing your company construction delays.

1.  Hiring Substandard Subcontractors
An inexperienced scaffolding supplier will not only be unable to meet the demands of your construction schedule, but they may also be unequipped to manage specific construction-related formwork needs. Scaffolding cannot work as a one-size-fits-all. Every project has specialized requirements, and only a professional formwork provider knows what works where.

Although many formworks have commonalities that can be applied across most situations, modern construction demands are very different from what was traditionally expected from building projects. As engineers and architects push the boundaries of design, formwork providers need to also reinvent scaffolding to meet construction needs. Nowadays, the design specificity and related mechanical requirements are more demanding based on the bearing capacity of concrete structures and their shapes. Hiring unskilled and poorly stocked subcontractors can cause accidents, breakdowns, and delays across projects.

To mitigate this, you need to ensure that your formwork supplier has sufficient product capacities and experience to meet your needs.

  • Resources: It is imperative that your formwork provider has adequate manpower, including the labor required for assembly, disassembly, and maintenance repairs at close hand whilst your construction project is underway. To meet complicated construction-related formwork needs, your scaffolding sublet also needs to have specialized engineers with technical expertise. He needs to be able to determine the most efficient solution for a project and evaluate several options on how to utilizeA professional formwork provides is also well placed to ensure that you have the correct technical support, both before and after your construction project. In the event of something going wrong, a professional scaffolder will be able to provide a support team to advise you on your best options based on the specific scaffolding you’ve rented. As is often seen with organizations in the Kingdom and in the region, relying on a scaffolding supplier that cannot provide technical support leads to delays in projects.
  • Network: Partnering with a large scaffolding company means that they are well placed to easily get supplies to projects in far-off places. They have a presence in multiple cities, giving you added coverage so that there are no delays in
  • Source replacements and consumables: It’s essential that your formwork supplier has a good relationship with manufacturers so that you can quickly get replacements if necessary, without derailing timelines. Additionally, large-sized formwork contractors have wider resources. They usually stock additional specialized formwork consumables like tie cases, slabs and wall separators, steel wool, and molding agents, among others. When you hire a professional company, you have the added advantage of using them as a one-stop shop for your formwork needs and advice. As they are working closely on your project, they can anticipate needs and speed up work without needing to pause and
  • Scalability: Finding a local formwork provider means that in addition to being able to respond quickly to your need to scale scaffolding or modular formwork up or down, they also have the capabilities to recycle panels, beams, and features. Sourcing from a smart provider who has provisions means that that they can cover vertical formwork products with fewer components than traditional econo-form panels, saving you time and effort on the shutter.
  • Customizable solutions: A formwork company needs to be able to identify each project’s needs to provide appropriate solutions. Only experienced scaffolders can customize existing modular structures to suit your specific requirements. Some projects may require a self-climbing system, and only an expert supplier can quickly provide such solutions.
  • Adhere to industry best practices: Avoiding costly delays is one of the most important aspects of project management in the construction industry. It pays to keep in mind that on large construction projects you could be losing $45,000 every day your project is delayed. As a best-case scenario, construction delays reduce your annual revenue figures and demonstrate to your clients that you’re disorganized or incapable of delivering. Worst case, your firm could face damages from legal suits –especially if delays cost your customers money. Therefore, it is imperative that you hire scaffolding subcontractors who adhere to industry best practices, labor laws, conduct regular training exercises, safety regulation and implementation practices, and maintain updated safety records and
  • Market reputation: Reputations are built through repeat success, over multiple kinds of projects. Whilst it may not be possible to find a formwork provider with no accidents in their history, look for someone with the least Ensure that the formwork they provide is strong and well maintained and can work across all weathers – especially bear the expansion and contraction that comes from extreme heat and cold.
  • Local industry familiarity: Sourcing someone who has worked in the local market means that they are familiar with the nuances of climate constraints, logistics support, as well as local workforce idiosyncrasies. It also gives them the added advantage of responding quickly and with
  • Maintain licenses and permits: Experienced formwork providers ensure that all their components comply with applicable safety standards and usage These include OSHAD-SF Code of practice 23, 26, and 27, OSHA 29 CFR 1926 450-454, and The UK’s Labor Department Occupational Health and Safety Branch’s Code of Practice for Metal Scaffolding, among others. Ensuring that a scaffolder has updated permits and safety records means that they are certified to undertake work on-site and accidents are less likely to happen.

2.  Poor Planning and Communication
Effective communication between the different teams involved in a project is critical for maintaining schedules. This means not just communicating with your construction crew but also getting your vision and requirements clearly understood by your scaffolding provider. A lack of communication and misalignment of schedules between construction crews and scaffolding teams can cause delays in what is required on site.

  • Scope creep delays: Scope creep is one of the biggest causes of delays in Saudi construction projects. This means that a lack of proper planning and communication between client, construction company, and scaffolding contractors causes the project’s requirements to increase over a project For example, what started out as a single deliverable, becomes five. Whilst scope creep is typically caused by key project stakeholders changing requirements, it can also arise from internal miscommunication and disagreements.To accelerate communication and decision-making among parties, it is a good idea to develop and maintain appropriate organizational structures and communication systems so that your formwork provider is made aware of all aspects of construction at the beginning, as well as throughout the life of a project. The requirements and responsibilities also need to be clearly defined, especially where the designated decision-makers, regarding design execution, are unambiguously identified.
  • Site knowledge: Insufficient knowledge of a site and structure also cause delays in projects. The investigation of site conditions, together with the design of groundworks and foundations, should be thorough, complete, and clearly presented before construction of scaffolding commences, so as to reduce the impact of any unforeseen conditions.
  • Awareness of weather constraints: As extreme weather conditions and high temperatures are a constant to all Saudi construction projects, scaffolding and formwork need to be assembled in a way that accommodates metal fatigue, expansion, and contraction, whilst remaining safe and secure. This means that your formwork provider needs to have the correct equipment that mitigates accident risks from high temperatures, strong winds, shamal, and rain. It pays to remember that structural disintegration from overuse can cause accidents that can derail your construction schedule and threaten your profit margins with each passing day

3.  Hiring Unskilled Crew and Laborers
Most scaffolding companies have their own engineers and laborers who assemble and disassemble formwork. Whilst detailed planning and early communication can wrinkle out most construction-related problems, nothing can compensate for experience and professionalism.

  • Expertise and technical support: Skilled scaffolding crew effortlessly integrate with construction teams on site. They understand on-site conditions and anticipate needs to quickly adjust methodologies. Additionally, they also have a better understanding of stability requirements and demands that cater to load capacities and mitigate falls and other accidents that can derail on-site
  • Follow worker safety best practices: It goes without saying that following worker safety best practices diminishes accidents. Working on a construction site also often means performing focused work from considerable heights, and specialized safety training is needed in order to protect construction crews from dangerous and life-
    threatening falls. An experienced scaffolder is specialized to provide scaffolding safety protocols from falling objects, as well as cater for emergencies like fires.

  • Adhere to safety-regulation and implementation practices: Falls account for a large portion of workplace injuries and deaths. That is why experienced crews with scaffolding companies maintain strict safety procedures to minimize accidents. This means ensuring that scaffolding can support workers’ safety equipment and using safety harnesses with sturdy contact points. A professional formwork provider will also supply workers with the correct safety gear (gloves, kits, helmets, etc.). For example, though not required by the construction crew, a scaffolding expert may advise the use of toe boards that can help stop workers from losing their footing, and treads that can minimize slipping accidents. Equally, interspersing construction areas (especially heights) with rest platforms can give workers a space to catch a Structures such as these, not only help get the job done but also keep workers safe throughout their shift and the project’s lifecycle.

It pays to remember that studies of the causes for delays in large building projects in Saudi Arabia observed that most construction projects use workforces comprising relatively unskilled labor. By hiring an experienced scaffolding provider, you minimize delays and cost overruns.

4.  Opting for the Cheapest Option
One of the biggest problems faced by multiple construction projects in Saudi Arabia is delays caused by unreliable subcontractors and suppliers. In fact, choosing the cheapest scaffolding supplier is reported as one of the major causes of delays in Saudi construction.

As the construction industry booms in Saudi Arabia, the country is having to contend with bidders who offer services far and well below market rates. Whilst this may seem like an attractive offer, you need to be aware.

  • Counterfeit products: If your formwork provider is offering services at a very cheap price, there is a chance that they are not using genuine products. The use of counterfeit products is one of the main reasons why accidents occur on sites. It is important to remember that only the correct formwork can bear the load capacities required from it. Sourcing from a dodgy formwork provider means that you will get a faulty product, which can have dangerous consequences. It also helps to realize that the Middle East is a target for counterfeiters due to the high number of imports and exports in the
  • Flawed projections: As a contractor, misquoting a job estimate can be massively detrimental to a project’s overall timeline. An inexperienced provider will not be able to offer an accurate assessment of your formwork They will inevitably pester you for more money for materials or will fall short on supplies because of their miscalculations. Either way, an incorrect assessment of your construction needs will not only delay your timelines but will also throw your budget off.
  • Poor management of unexpected changes: Unexpected changes are always going to be a part of the construction business. Small formwork companies are not equipped to adapt to changes fast enough to manage expectations or scale up or down fast enough to meet needs. Only bigger and more experienced scaffolding companies have the crucial skillset that can effectively coordinate between so many different teams working across a
  • Financial stability: Professional scaffolding companies are large corporations that work with multiple clients for the lease and rent of scaffolding and This means that their resources, efforts, and leadership are well aligned for delivery and implementation across many different kinds of construction projects. It helps to subcontract with a financially stable enterprise that is not strapped for cash. As any construction company knows, sometimes delays in payment have a knock-on effect on all parties involved. Having a financially stable formwork partner means that they are better able to weather unexpected delays whilst continuing with services. Smaller companies may be able to offer short-term discounts but do not have the leeway to survive unexpected disruptions to projects.

SSF is a leading manufacturer of scaffolding in Saudi Arabia. We provide safe and durable structural systems for construction, renovation, and maintenance work, as well as technical and local support. For more information contact the experts at SSF by clicking here.


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