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Head to the future news (edition 18-5-2020)

1.Tenders in Europe: there is no downturn

We took a closer look at the Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) website, asking ourselves a question: has the COVID-19 lowered the number of tenders published? What are the numbers regarding our industry?

First of all, the general scenario: the total number of tenders published this year and a comparison between this year and the last one.

In the first quarter of 2020 (Jan-Apr) have been published 202.021 tenders, while in the same period of the last year (2019 Q1) the number was 197.084. If gather all the monthly data, you can see that in 2020 there is no downturn in the number of tenders.

Secondly, what about the Construction and Infrastructure Industry?

If the global scenario is, on paper, not frightening, the Construction and Infrastructure Industry keeps the pace.

Below you can see the number of tenders published in some business sectors, from January to May 11.


Business sector (CPV) GEN FEB MAR APR May (1-11)
Energy and related services 46 664 741 961 385
Sewage, refuse, cleaning and environmental services 106 74 106 163 52
Construction work for pipelines, communication and power lines, for highways, roads, airfields and railways; flatwork 92 1106 1452 2100 767
Construction work for water projects 10 98 131 244 61


As you can see, in the midst of the COVID-19 shutdown the need for new projects is high, in particular for the Energy and Infrastructure.


2.Turkey: high demand from the domestic market

Despite any challenge, there are opportunities in Turkey. “Niche and customized production, fast service offerings, high quality products with low cost, logistical advantages thanks to the country’s location, cost advantages provided by the Turkish Lira and prevailing commercial wars can be counted as the significant advantages for foreign investors.”

Manufacturers based in Turkey may also see a rise in demand from the domestic market, due to delays experienced in international logistics and difficulties in after-sales services. “In line with the transition to normalization, planned by the government for the end of May and the beginning of June, we hope that the market will stabilize, to match the last quarter of 2019.”


3. Trust among contractors in the United States is at highest

That said, ABC’s Construction Confidence Index (CCI) readings for sales, profit margins, and staffing levels expectations all increased from the historically low levels reported in the March 2020 survey. While sales and profit margin expectations remain below the threshold of 50, indicating ongoing expectations of contraction, the staffing level index rose to 51.4 in April, indicating positive hiring expectations over the next six months.


4. The machines have been turned on again

If you didn’t know before, The Downtime Index is the measure of construction machine use in North America and Europe.
The Downtime Index compiles weekly harmonized engine utilization changes.

Overall, almost 8.5% more machines were started and worked in week 19 compared to week 18. This represents an increase in the machine activity metric from 51% in week 18 to 55% in week 19, meaning that more machines are working, and are working longer hours.

Most notable is the improvement in machine utilization rates in Southern Europe (France, Italy and Spain), which rose by 25% last week, the largest regional increase. This was primarily driven by strong growth in Spain and Italy which are now at indexes of 107 and 83, respectively. In sharp contrast, machines in France remain at 50% of the expected utilization.


5.UK: House building sites allowed to work longer hours

The housebuilding sector was the hardest hit in construction by the lockdown with thousands of self-employed trade workers laid off overnight. “Last week our site management teams returned to the majority of our sites in England and Wales to put in place a series of additional health and safety and social distancing measures to prepare for the gradual return of our subcontractors to sites and the controlled resumption of construction.”

“This is now well underway, with construction activity on over 90% of our sites in England and Wales.”


6. Making the best of a bad situation

Our sector innovates and adapts. It’s important to remember that process won’t just be about individuals getting used to going back to work, it’s about restarting work safely on-site and all the many logistical tasks that involve. It’s also about playing the important part we have in supporting the economy. It’s a big task and we are more than up to the challenge

If there is one positive thing that everyone is currently sharing, is the new level of connectivity and digital transformation. Even the smallest, family-based companies are now more and more involved in this. News of what others are doing will spread through networks and webinars. Things will not go back to where they were before: productivity will have improved; flexible working will have become normal; whole-life thinking will have advanced.
But overall, the enforced lockdown could show the industry how we can use digital technology to be much more efficient and productive.


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