June 30, 2015
Planning for Materials in Construction
Effectively planning for materials that will be used on a construction site can tend to pose challenges at times. Compressed or changing schedules, lead time variation and availability of materials, poor communication, and even the weather can create disorder getting needed materials to a job site when required. However, when a well thought out plan is put into place before the job starts, dealing with these challenges becomes much easier to coordinate.
- Start with the end in mind – When you begin material planning, you must first understand what the desired end state looks like and when you need to have the job completed, then you can effectively plan for when materials will need to be delivered. Then by working with vendors, to ensure that lead times can be taken into account, those items not kept in stock at local distributors or manufacturer facilities, can be accounted for. An effective plan should identify what material is needed, when it is needed, and where it should be delivered.
- Establish a short list of reliable and competitive vendors – Creating effective communication with trusted vendors and giving them visibility to your material plan will allow them to better deliver materials. When they can plan their pipeline of incoming materials to match the job schedule, expediting is reduced on their end. When issues arise that change the schedule, they can react more effectively to those issues. When a vendor is given a reliable materials plan, they should see a reduction in their overhead cost which should be a point of negotiation.
- Regular and effective communication with job site supervision – Even the best laid plans sometimes go astray. But when you have an issue that arises and impacts a job that is pre-planned, they are much easier to deal with. By communicating regularly with job site supervision, they can inform you of the things that are changing early. This will allow you to adjust your plan accordingly upstream to distributors and manufacturers, if necessary. The better the communication, the easier it is to react to problems that inevitably develop.
- Investment in upfront planning reaps rewards later on – The upfront investment of time to plan can save time and money throughout the project. For example, coordinating the selection of materials based on preferred manufacturers where cost, quality, and delivery have been pre-negotiated will positively impact the performance of the job. Getting an understanding of the job site and where material will be delivered and stored, then communicating that information with your preferred vendors will help avoid confusion when materials are delivered. These are only a few examples and aspects of planning, but these plans and others require an investment of time upfront. Having a good plan will make a job more successful.
While creating a plan for materials on a construction site is an effort that can’t be underestimated, the benefits for the job are numerous. Fully engaging the players from manufacturing, distribution, purchasing, and job site supervision in upfront planning will help ensure better material procurement execution and project success.