Seven Strategies for Effective Construction Material Management

Profitable construction projects are the result of a successful blend of labor, material, and equipment management. Too often, contractors concentrate exclusively on labor or cost reduction and overlook the opportunity for improvement by implementing material management strategies.

Here are seven basic strategies that will improve construction project efficiency and keep workers on task.Five materials with strained market dynamics

1. Inventory Optimization

Having material scattered around a site, not properly protected, and not clearly accounted for makes for many unproductive trips by crews on a construction site. Fear of running out of items (or not knowing where they are) creates over-ordering. Partner with a strategic distributor who can help you develop a method to keep your materials convenient to the installation area, delivered on time, and in increments that don’t force you to stop work too often to receive it.

2. Project Planning

Many contractors order materials every day because that’s the way they have always done it. They collect everyone’s list and send it to the office. Then, the material order shows up the next day. However, if it’s not onsite when the workers arrive, they start working and have to leave their work area to pick up the order.

A good distributor develops a material management strategy with the contractor to plan and schedule deliveries that work for both parties. They break the project material into manageable releases according to a schedule so the onsite crew doesn’t have to stop working to build a list. This paves the way for more productivity all the way to quitting time.

3. Stage and Storage

Bulk shipments that contain material intended for installation at different phases of the job are rarely a good idea. The costs of multiple unplanned deliveries, moving material around, potential damage in relocation, and time trying to find items later are all potential profit drains. Work with your distributor to repackage and deliver product kits when and where the contractor needs it, according to the contractor’s schedule.

4. Wire Management

Placing a bulk wire order at the onset of a project can take risk out of the cost of material. Unfortunately, the cost savings diminish by the way product flows to the job site. A strong distributor will build a wire material management plan for all the circuit and feeder wire that builds releases by area and coordinates cuts to minimize scrap. A proper plan eliminates the need for overnight or “hot rush” cuts.

5. Kitting

Material can be packaged in customized kits containing just what is needed for a particular room, floor, or area of a construction project. Your distributor can work with the contractor to do the pre-work. This facilitates faster delivery and installation on-site and reduces the amount of waste that needs to be carried away.

6. Lighting Assessments

Lighting is a core component of all construction projects, new or renovation. Complex controls, variable LED compatibility, and integration with building management systems make it essential that your distributor partner is well-versed with the technical aspects as well as project management of your project lighting needs.

7. Access to Experts

A true distributor partner is your information source to product knowledge and application information. Distributor experts should cover the spectrum of product breadth including everything from safety and switchgear to lighting and datacom.  

Using these steps and a defined materials management strategy, you can increase project efficiency and reduce costs across your construction projects.