The Perfect Scaffolding System?

Although most manufacturers would say that their objective is to create the perfect scaffolding system, few will ever expect to reach this goal, as the perfect scaffolding does not exist. The best that can be achieved is to design the optimum scaffolding for any given circumstances and location, and that itself may even be difficult given the subjective nature of any judgment.

When evaluating a system, assuming it is fit for purpose, the main concern for any sane contractor is always the cost. Scaffolding is a temporary structure, so reducing this cost can be a big saving for the contractor with no parallel reduction in quality of the permanent works, making this a very attractive proposition.

Reducing overall cost is not as simple as it first appears, because there are many factors which feed into the overall cost of scaffolding, not just the purchase cost. Aside from the purchase cost, there are labour costs associated with assembly, cost of transporting, cost of storage, damage repair and of course re-sale value all contribute towards the overall cost, and should be considered when assessing a system.

Striking the perfect balance between the costs of equipment versus operating cost has occupied various manufacturers for years, and it is fascinating to watch the continuous conflict in design where a solution to one problem may be the root of a new problem, leading design around in circles

As an example: it is considered an advantage to have a preassembled frames to speed up assembly, but if too large, pre-assembled frames could become heavier and harder to handle raising the cost of labour. This problem could be addressed by using lighter material and a more sophisticated structural arrangement, however this in turn will increase the cost, and make the system more complex and less flexible. Lowering the manufacturing cost and making a more flexible system will normally have the result of increasing the labour required to assemble, right back to square one again!

We can see the challenge designer’s face, and these difficulties are reflected by the number of different systems available from the various manufacturers, each claiming to have reached the perfect balance. Although the perfect scaffolding remains elusive, least the contractor has a wide range of contenders to choose their best option for their particular needs.