July 13, 2011

A bigger lie than statistics? Forecast?

In our company we once in a while buy some forecasts. Obviously when working in the field of construction, we want to know what is actually happening in that sector. The most comprehensive package from our main market place, Western Europe, is so called Euroconstruct -statistics. It is a combination of work from multiple statistical bodies from Western European countries.

Now it is time for summer holidays and I even had some time to read the latest information from June this year. The book is not as thick as Bible and even had some nice (statistical) pictures in it = good summer reading.

What was the outcome of my reading? Here are some of my learnings:

1) Nobody wants to be optimistic about their market performance. All forecasters got multiple blacks eyes during the last two years, so nobody wants to be optimistic now.

2) Construction output is linked with GDP growth expectations, see e.g. graph above. What a big surpise !

3) Look at all graphs at least twice and check their scale - e.g. graph above, GDP growth rate 1% and construction growth 2% scale -the picture would be very different only when putting the scales to be same. Conclusion: the guy who made this graph was an pessimistic one....

Please do not take me wrong - there were also very valuable data from Euroconstruct figures. But of course I will not reveal this - also competitors of us might read this blog. But what is sure it certainly requires skills to get data from forecasts which really can be used for business.

Enjoy your summer and please select better books to read !

July 6, 2011

Insulation makes sense - in right quantaties

Back some time ago I was visiting one seminar in southern Europe and listened to a presenter who was exited about the fact that insulation can be used in a wall element - between the outer layer and inner layer. So insulation is also possible in precast! And this was in 2011. I was sitting next to a Swedish manager and we were laughing quite a bit - the presenter was only 50 years late with his "innovation". E.g. Peikko was started in 1965 for producing the diagonal ties to keep the outer layer and inner layer of the sandwich element together. And after 46 years we are still producing a similar product.

The use of insulation is still not respected or used in all countries, not only in southern Europe. Just recently we lost a job in Gulf area of our ties. The reason was that the investor did not consider insulation to be important - instead of sandwich wall elements he wanted to have cheaper elements, with full concrete only. I can only imagine what kind of energy bills those houses will have -> there are 50 degrees outside, A/C is going full speed all the time but the investor surely saved money. Sadly the investor is even government related organization -> goverments can do silly decisions as well.

On the other hand, insulation norms can be also so rigid that they are next to insane. It looks like in some Nordic countries the planned requirements for insulation are so high that houses will be soon bunkers, nothing less. There is already apartment buildings build without balconies in order to make them into "passive houses". I am just looking forward when they create an energy saving building without windows...maybe one comes soon without doors as well :-)

The use of proper insulation is important but life is never black and white - it has to be economical and not in the extreme. We at Peikko are happy to develop new products, thicker ties to tie thicker insulation layers into element parts, better systems to cope with hard insulations materials etc. I just wish that governments will keep some sanity, both ways, not to be too lose and not be too rigid.