Logistics on a construction site have an immense impact on project time and budget, yet it seems to be an afterthought for many contractors.
To understand the importance of logistics on construction sites we need to agree on a definition of logistics. For purposes of this article, logistics is defined as
the planning, execution, and control of procurement, transport, and stationing of workers and material and other resources to achieve the goals of a construction project.
Some refer to logistics as “management of inventory in motion and at rest.”
Regardless of which definition you prefer, logistics are so impactful, they cannot be ignored anymore. The absence of a logistical plan for a construction site leads to bottlenecks that place a stranglehold on the project and profit.
How Logistics Works on a Construction Site
Logistics is about the movement of materials and equipment from where they originate to where the workforce needs them. With small time windows and limited margins, this material and equipment need to arrive on time and undamaged for work to flow properly.
A simple illustration of logistics for construction sites is moving precast concrete from the plant where it is made to the site. Delivering the precast concrete will require a crane to hoist the precast panels into position.
In this example, there are three critical components:
- Material: Precast panels
- Equipment: Hoisting crane
- Workers: Installation crew
Getting all three components to the same place, at the same time, is what logistics does. When one of these critical components falters in timing, contractors and projects suffer.
Logistics boil down to one universal impact: profitability. If the crane isn’t on site when it is supposed to be, installation crews for the precast panels are idle. They are getting their hourly wages even though the lack of a crane prohibits them from working. This kind of snafu is unprofitable.
Moreover, when it comes to construction, a delay in one aspect of the job can have far-reaching effects on job completion. If panels are late for installation, the crews that follow – electricians, plumbers, drywall erectors and other trades may also be delayed.
Planning is Key
To keep a construction site productive good planning is key. Just like the detailed timelines general contractors put together for each stage of a project, logistics need to be resolved prior to project start.
Logistics plans must include a total inventory of materials, equipment, and tools needed for each stage of the project. When you effectively manage materials from their source to your site, you reap the benefits:
- Waste reduction = savings
Planning in advance helps ensure that the right materials are on site every day so that construction crews can work without interruption.
- Improved efficiency on the job
Logistical planning also means that materials are stored appropriately, easy to locate, and easy to move. This also speeds up the project through improved efficiency.
- Maintain site order & safety
Logistical planning helps a site maintain order. When a site is organized and tidy there are important benefits like project efficiency and worker health and safety.
The digital solution
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