Scaffold Shrink Wrapping - Do It Yourself or Sub Contract?

Posted on September 23, 2015 by Steve Irlam

This week I received an email from the contracts supervisor of a scaffold company based in Manchester. His company had a few customers who required working scaffolds with full weather protection. He had previously looked into training a few of the lads on shrink wrapping and buying the equipment and materials but somehow had never got around to it. Now he had another full weather protection job coming up and he wanted to find out whether it would be better to do the shrink wrapping themselves or sub contract the work to a specialist shrink wrap installer.

The upcoming job was a scaffolding 20m long x 4m wide with 3m standards on one side and 2.4m standards on the other side to create a fall for the roof. Because the scaffolding was used to create a jointing bay at an electrical substation the sheeting needed to be pretty much air tight and certainly water tight!

Based on the dimensions above, the total area to be encapsulated was around 220 square metres.

The options I gave to our scaffolder in Manchester were;

Option 1 - Shrink Wrap Materials, Equipment & Training

(Link each of these to the products in the shop)

  • 3 rolls of 7m x 15m, 300 micron, shrink wrap sheeting (flame retardant to EN13501) @ £186 / roll = £558
  • 6 rolls of 100mm wide x 33m long patch tape @ £9.95 / roll = £59.70 (I suggested 6 rolls of tape just in case there were scaffold tubes sticking through the shrink wrap that would need sealing.)
  • 1 box shrink wrap clips (100 x re-usable clips in a box) = £95.00
  • 2 x shrink wrapping guns = £790 (I proposed two shrink wrapping guns because if a scaffolder is going to seriously get on board with setting up their own ‘in-house’ shrink wrapping service they will need two guns to get the jobs completed in a sensible time.)
  • 1 x polythene door with zipper = £12.95 (This is optional.)
  • 1 x on site training session = £595. (The shrink wrapping training could take place at the scaffolders yard on a training structure or ‘on the job’. If the training takes place on a training structure then an extra roll or two of shrink wrap will be needed!)

Total Cost for materials, equipment & training = £2110.65

Option 2 - Full Supply & Fix

  • 220m2 @ £7 / square metre = £1540.00

Total Cost for full supply & fix = £1540.00

At first glance, for a relatively small shrink wrapping job such as 220 square metres, sub contracting the work to a specialist shrink wrap installer seems to be the most cost effective option.

However, bear in mind that the heat guns and clips are re-usable. With the training session at £595, £1480 of the total cost for materials, equipment and training represents and investment by the scaffolder in setting up the shrink wrap service. The materials used on the 220 square metre job will be around £600 + the scaffolders oown labour costs.

Comparing £600 (+ 2-3 hours labour) for doing the work in house compared with £1540 suddenly seems like a more attractive proposition, particularly if the scaffolder plans to use shrink wrap to create full encapsulation and containment on future jobs.

Do Both!

A final thing to bear in mind if you are comparing the cost of buying scaffold shrink wrap materials and equipment with the cost of sub contracting the work to a specialist shrink wrap installer is not to think of it as an either / or decision - why not do both! Install your own jobs when they are straightforward and you have the time and sub contract the work out to shrink wrap installers if you think the job is too difficult or you are busy.

As Kris Martin Shrink Wrap Installation Manager at Rhino says;


We can offer a full installation service or we can offer training and supplies or maybe a bit of both depending on how busy you are, we also offer site assistance which over the last year our customers find very useful as we send one of our experienced members of the installation team to work and supervise along side with your operatives. This seems to work well as where we do training we have limited time with your men, however with the on-site assistance your men will get a better understanding of installations as we have more time with them and they can explain different scenarios within general conversation.

Thank you for reading! If you found this information useful, please feel free to share with colleagues or give us a ‘like’ via your preferred social media channel! If I can be of any assistance with anything shrink wrap related email If you prefer to talk rather than type call me and the team on 01477 532222.

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