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Site Logistics Planning = Increased Productivity + Cost Savings

At Faith Technologies, we continuously strive to redefine what’s possible. Over the years, productivity and efficiencies have improved greatly through new technologies such as Robotic Total Stations (RTS), Building Information Modeling (BIM) and a variety of new software solutions. Sometimes, however, solutions aren’t found in the latest technology. That’s where developing a more proactive vs. reactive culture on project sites becomes pertinent, and where ‘simple demand planning’ can drive increased productivity and cost savings.

To get a better understanding of simple demand planning, let’s talk about push and pull systems. Many of Faith’s project sites operate in a push system manner, where our preconstruction team and Excellerate Manufacturing determine when to push material to project sites based on original schedules or historical patterns. This can lead to project site overstock and excess inventory, which on project sites equals waste – wasted time due to extra handling of material, housekeeping and safety issues, damage or loss of material as well as the cost of carrying inventory.

Faith brings its site logistics to the next level by working to eliminate inventory waste, and we do this by encouraging our project teams to operate in a pull system manner. In this structure, project sites dictate when to pull material orders to the project site allowing them to be planned for manufacturing and set for just-in-time delivery.

Demand needs to be driven by the customer. Why is this important? The customer (in this case, the Faith work crew) is in the best position to plan for what, when and where material is needed. A pull system produces to the customer demand, resulting in inventory as needed and when needed.

  • What? Right Material
  • When? Right Time
  • Where? Right Place

Once materials are received on the project sites, our next level of planning is to move material to the direct point of install. Taking cues from manufacturing leaders, we utilize a pull system established by a clear demand from the work space – a Kanban system. Kanban (reorder signal) is a simple manual or electronic reorder system that indicates what, when and where material is needed to support crew members performing value-added work, just in time.

In a manufacturing environment, a pull system is commonly referred to as lean manufacturing, and in construction is commonly referred to as a Last Planner or lean construction system. Lean manufacturing has fueled dramatic productivity increases in manufacturing; the construction industry is in the very early stages of learning and executing planning based on pull system techniques. To be fully successful, Faith is implementing a pull system to allow material handlers to effectively support our projects to drive productivity as well as reduce overall costs.

Without effective planning, material handling operates in a reactive mode. This approach of gathering and delivering material on call can result in wasted waiting time for crews, receiving incorrect material, or excessive movement by delivering material using multiple trips. To assist in effectively utilizing logistics support, a 24-hour planner is a valuable tool for project crews. The current best practice of utilizing one- and three-week planners offers a good reference to execute a 24-hour planner for a project’s daily material needs. The 24-hour planner answers the what, when and where material is needed and allows the logistics team to effectively plan and eliminate waste related to excessive material movement on the project site.

Faith Technologies is driven to stay ahead of the competition and show we are the best in the business through continuous growth, innovation and improvement. Refining and further development of our planning processes are key to moving us forward.