Logistics is a crucial aspect of construction management that can’t be ignored. An adequate logistics plan can turn a complex construction project into a well-orchestrated event with lower costs and more efficient processes.
But creating a construction logistics plan requires attention to detail, thorough research, cooperation from teams and suppliers, and a flexible mindset. Using the right tools also brings logistics down to earth so that everyone involved can understand what comes next.
Logistics in Construction Management
Logistics in construction management is the process of planning, executing, and controlling procurement, transportation, workers, and resources. Some construction logistics managers refer to logistics as inventory management at motion and rest.
In simple terms, logistics in construction management is all about getting people and resources where they need to go at precisely the right time. Whether on-site, in storage, or in transit, construction industry logistics is about knowing where your materials and resources are at every stage of the project.
Without a proper logistics plan for a construction site, bottlenecks and project disruptions are more likely and could have a higher negative impact on operations.
Materials and equipment must arrive on time and without any damage so that workers can make progress toward completion. When those materials do come, logistics professionals should have equipment and personnel in place to receive such deliveries and store them in the appropriate locations.
Logistics is particularly crucial in the construction industry since companies lose money as soon as one piece of the puzzle is delayed.
For example, if the materials arrive and workers are ready, but there is no plan to store them, you have a significant issue. If you have a place to store your supplies and your workers are available, but the delivery arrives late, construction businesses unnecessarily spend extra wages. And even if the delivery arrives on time and your storage center is ready, your materials are going to be left on the truck without appropriate personnel.
What to Include in a Construction Logistics Plan?
A single delay can have far-reaching impacts when it comes to construction logistics. We’ve already discussed how important logistics is in the construction business, but what about logistics planning?
Good planning is an essential key to continued productivity over the long term. That’s why having a construction logistics plan is essential, no matter what the deliverables are or how wide the scope.
Essential elements of a construction project logistics plan
Here are the key elements that should be in a construction logistics plan:
Scheduling — successful and timely completion of projects depends on efficient scheduling of resources, deliveries, personnel, and tasks.
Risk management — safety is a top concern for construction companies and should be considered throughout the planning process.
Benchmark tracking — plan to analyze your company’s performance at the end of each project stage to optimize future projects and mitigate bottlenecks.
Construction site traffic flow — Where are the exits and entrances? Is there clearance for tall vehicles? Where are the parking areas located? Are all roads and walking pathways clear?
Material storage — If you are working on a smaller site, you may not have as much room to store supplies. A logistics manager will need to find nearby storage solutions or closely monitor the delivery schedule for timing, access, and personnel availability.
Site security — construction logistics managers are also in charge of site security, including armed personnel, cameras, staging equipment for gate access, and other techniques to prevent theft equipment, raw materials, technology, and other resources on the site.
Personnel meeting areas — logistics also includes setting up rest areas for crew members to take a break from the elements, emergency meeting areas, and offices.
These are just a few aspects that construction managers should include in most logistics plans. Many other things may or may not be included in your construction logistics plan depending on the type of project, its complexity, and other factors.
Factors to Consider in Construction Site Logistics
The nature of construction is that no two projects are exactly the same. Even if they are similar builds in the same location, there could be different stakeholders with a different vision for the outcome, or maybe they are built for the same company with other crew members. Perhaps your favorite transportation service changed its terms, and you have to use different suppliers.
It’s also not uncommon for things to change as the project progresses. That means that construction logistics managers must be flexible and can manage teams in a changing environment.
Even when processes are running smoothly, construction site logistics is a complicated task that involves many moving parts and people. One of the key trends for the construction logistics market is digitization and intelligent logistics.
The construction industry has been historically slow to adopt technology and digital processes. But in today’s evolving supply chain, it’s more important than ever to take advantage of every tool at your disposal. An increase in digital tools for construction managers allows teams to fine-tune every step of the way from procurement to transport, personnel scheduling, and everything in between.
Here are some other factors that a logistics manager should consider when creating a logistics plan:
What materials are required at each project stage?
What equipment will be required?
How often are deliverables expected?
Preparatory excavations or demolition work involved?
Are access routes already in place, or will site infrastructure need to be built?
What kind of transport and delivery system will you use?
Cybersecurity of your digital tools
Construction, logistics, and PCI compliance
How many vehicles are in your fleet? What’s their status?
Where are loading and unloading locations?
Are quality control and assurance in place?
Is storage on-site only, or is there off-site storage to consider?
Safety of workers and pedestrian boundaries
Supply chain management methods
Will pre-fabrication be necessary?
You should also consider whether or not any equipment needs regular upkeep, maintain regular updates for digital tools, such as sensors and construction project management software, and adequate personnel throughout the duration of the project.
Construction site logistics is a complex yet crucial piece of efficient construction practices. Without logistics, it would be impossible to complete projects on time, on budget and according to client specifications.
With supply chain ecosystems going through a transformation of their own, it’s important that logistics managers stay up to date with their delivery statuses and schedules to avoid bottlenecks, rework, and inefficient delivery processes.
Creating a construction logistics plan is essential. But the most important thing to remember when it comes to organizing construction logistics is to remain as flexible as possible. Not all projects will go according to plan, but you can expect smoother logistics and better results with the right foundation.