“Cement Supply Disruptions” Are a Real Thing

Over the course of the last few months MITA has been hearing from many members around the state that they are encountering situations where they are unable to get or produce concrete when needed to make planned concrete pours on projects. Based on letters the redi-mix suppliers have provided to MITA member contractors, and conversations MITA has had with the Michigan Concrete Association (MCA), these situations are related to a very tight domestic cement market that has resulted in cement supply disruptions (also referred to as shortages*), not only in Michigan, but around the country.

The MCA did inform MITA that most, if not all redi-mix concrete suppliers in Michigan are on an “allocation” status with their cement suppliers, meaning they don’t know what cement supply they will receive day-to-day or week-to-week. MITA also understands that our MITA concrete paving members who produce their own concrete are on the same “allocation” status with their cement suppliers.

Because a cement “allocation” to a redi-mix supplier may not be sufficient in volume to meet the orders they may have for concrete, the redi-mix suppliers are put in the difficult position of having to pick and choose which customers they provide concrete to on any given day. In response to the uncertainties associated with these cement “allocations”, some redi-mix suppliers have closed their concrete plants on Saturdays, they have limited the number of orders they will accept, and/or they require orders be placed several days in advance of the scheduled pour.

MITA has requested and is collecting any information contractors are being provided by the redi-mix suppliers that document the reasons they cannot supply concrete as needed. All the collected information has been shared with MDOT, who has also shared it with the Michigan FHWA Division Office. MDOT has indicated that they do not expect that they, or the FHWA, will declare an “industry-wide shortage” as it relates to cement supply.

MITA does believe that controlling operation delays directly attributable to this cement/concrete supply issue are excusable delays per the provisions of the 2020 MDOT Standard Specifications for Construction, subsection 108.08.C., “delays due to unforeseen causes beyond the control and without the fault or negligence of the Contractor”. MITA suggests that member contractors be very diligent in documenting all their efforts to obtain concrete to support an extension of time request.

Although this bulletin is specific to cement/concrete materials, MITA continues to hear from members about controlling operation delays due to supply disruptions for a variety of other materials. For those instances, we do suggest you follow the same documentation procedures discussed herein.

MITA has also heard from many members, in all parts of the state, that the impacts of the cement/concrete supply disruptions, as well as other material supply disruptions, are further exacerbated by the federal “hours of service” regulations which limit how many hours truck drivers can drive in a given period of time.

* MCA position paper on the cement supply.

MITA will keep you informed of any new developments and/or provide you additional information on this cement/concrete matter as we learn of them.

If you have any questions, please contact Rachelle VanDeventer at rachellevandeventer@thinkmita.org, or Glenn Bukoski at glennbukoski@thinkmita.org, or call them at the MITA office at 517-347-8336.