Effective logistical planning is imperative for any construction project as it can provide massive benefits in efficiency and productivity that significantly reduces the overall cost of the project. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a workforce not being able to continue because they are missing or waiting on the arrival of materials. This can have a knock-on effect of holding up other teams involved in the project, yet with some planning these materials can be delivered together so that each stage of the construction project can continue unhindered. In this article we’re going to assess the benefits and savings that can be made by applying modern logistical management within the construction sector.
Planning is key to productivity
The main contractor should have a timeline of project stages planned well in advance, with a full inventory of what materials and tools are going to be required at each stage. Being able to effectively manage the flow of materials from source to site allows for a number of advantages:
- Significant savings and reduction of waste. Planning allows for materials to be on site every day as needed so that the construction team can work to maximum productivity.
- On site logistical planning means that all materials are stored appropriately and are easy to locate. Again this speeds up the project, and improves efficiency.
- A clean site is a safe site – good logistical planning avoids any clutter and is better organised, with knock-on benefits for health and safety.
Regular, on-time deliveries
An essential part of logistical preparation for a construction project is in choosing the most capable and reliable partners to provide the source materials. They need to be thinking along the same wavelength and be capable of following instructions accurately as there’s more to this role than loading a truck with the days/weeks’ worth of supplies. The best logistical planners will request that the truck is loaded in a precise order so that the most needed materials are the first to be unloaded, allowing the rest of the construction team to press on with work. A good partner will appreciate this.
The importance of construction consolidation
This is especially important during the early fit-out stages of a project and it essentially means that rather than deliveries being taken directly to the site, they are instead collected in a construction consolidation centre (CCC) near but not necessarily on the site. This allows for materials to be ferried on a ‘just in time’ basis as and when they are needed, keeping the site itself clear of obstacles and, consequently, much safer.
CCCs allow for logistic managers to work safe in the knowledge that their materials are available and that all they need to arrange is the final stage of delivering what is needed to where it needs to go. This is especially useful on projects that experience delays or similar issues as it provides for a degree of flexibility also. Here are some of the advantages:
- Reduce site traffic by 60-70%
- Better storage for materials than on site
- Remove excess packaging off site, reducing clutter at the works
- Allows for the sequencing of materials, encouraging overall efficiency and flexibility
- CCCs serve as a project management centre and place to test materials/arrange timetables etc.
It should be clear that effective logistical planning can make the difference between a project being completed early and under budget – or the very opposite. Having an effective system in place to manage every component of the site is essential to cut costs while maintaining productivity. In the UK we are waking up to this, and learning from the States how an effective logistical planning and US distribution network for materials and supplies can make all the difference to a project being a success or failure.