SEVERE DISRUPTION in the construction industry supply chain early next year could be caused by the Millennium Bug, industry and Government action groups warned this week.
Action 2000, the Government body set up to raise awareness of the Y2K problem, the Construction Industry Board and the Lawyers Association are predicting that failure of microchips embedded in tools used for a range of key tasks, including communications, production, delivery or maintenance, are likely to throw construction projects badly off their critical paths.
Lawyers Association vice-president Graham Ross said that complex legal wrangling is likely to follow as clients seek compensation from contractors for missed deadlines, contractors then sue suppliers and suppliers counter- claim.
He added that the ability of firms, particularly small companies, to bring litigation had recently been increased by changes to the legal system.
Chief executive of the Business Contingency Initiative and Government advisor John Sharp highlighted that the computerised systems used for specifying and ordering building components were particularly at risk and should be rigorously audited for the bug. This could involve scrutinising several inter-connected firms.
He advised that suppliers should be setting up contingency plans such as the ability to place orders by fax or phone to safeguard reliability. Contractors should be looking at alternative suppliers they can turn to if supply chains break, he added.