Setting up a construction material logistics plan
Logistics and your construction material logistics plan
In some cases, logistic services from specialists employed internally or hired externally may be valuable to your construction project. Types of logistics services include:
- an on-site logistics specialist who can receive all material deliveries and distribute materials, equipment and plant
- full supply chain logistics planning - the main contractor employs professionally trained logisticians who can plan procurement, storage, distribution and back loading activities
- fourth-party logistics - an overarching service to co-ordinate other logistics providers where there is more than one supply chain
Logistics techniques that you could implement on your construction site as part of your material logistics plan (MLP) include:
- Just-in-time (JIT) delivery - brings material onto site just in time to be used, reducing the need to store excessive levels of material. JIT can be used with a construction consolidation centre (CCC) or individual suppliers.
- Demand smoothing - enables peaks and troughs in demand of materials to be evened out by looking at project activities in the entire value chain. It identifies how the activities can be smoothed to reduce the amount of transport resources, materials and labour needed.
- On-site marketplace - a temporary storage area for consumable materials, fixings and small tools that are widely used and shared between a number of trade contractors working on site.
- Reusable packaging - reusable containers can cost substantially less than expendable corrugated fibreboard boxes and are likely to have less environmental impact. Reusable packaging includes boxes and pallets, which can be hired and then returned during or at the end of the project.
- Pre-assembled and offsite fabrication - involves planning ahead during the design stages and putting together the actual quantities and measurements that you may need, eg getting pre-cut plasterboard or components prepared in packages appropriate to a room or floor. Offsite fabricated materials ensure wastage is more efficiently controlled and usually reduces transport requirements.
- ICT systems - used to tag and track materials through the whole construction project. They can provide insight about what actually happens on site.
- Inventory management optimisation - a software system providing planning tools that help optimise inventory levels and site space and storage. The software is designed to distribute materials to the right place at the right time, with supply measured against actual and forecast demand for each individual supply centre.
- CCCs - distribution centres used to supply materials in the required quantities to one or more construction projects. The CCC distributes materials using JIT to meet the daily needs of the sites, combining goods into single shipments.
- Reverse logistics - a process that involves the cost-effective movement of products (whether raw materials or finished goods) from the consumer or end user back up the supply chain - for example, allowing customers to return packing material to the seller to reuse, or allowing over-orders of material to be returned by distribution centres to suppliers. This allows businesses to reuse, remanufacture or refurbish materials and products.
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