Top 7 Material Management Frustrations on a Construction Site

In a perfect world, you’ll always have the right material in the right place at the right time on a construction job. The real world isn’t quite that simple. Organizing your people, inventory, supply and distribution creates a lot of variables that need to be managed efficiently.

The reality is that managing material on a job site can be full of frustration and unexpected challenges. Because material management doesn’t always go as expected, it’s important to be aware of common roadblocks so that you can avoid them. The good news is that proper preparation can ultimately improve profitability on a job site.

We talked to construction contractors who shared their seven biggest frustrations – and solutions – when it comes to material management.

Delayed Materials 

Challenge: There’s nothing quite like arriving at a job site and not having the required materials. Delayed materials can affect the entire scheduling process and put productivity to a halt. 

Solution: Relying on a distribution representative for your planning and scheduling process can help save on time and money. They’ll track your materials and deliveries so that when your people get to your job site, they have the equipment needed to get the job done.

Outlying Materials 

Challenge: If materials are distant from a job site, contractors will have to leave the work-space to find them – resulting in time lost in the retrieval process.

Solution: A simple way to remove this barrier is by utilizing a job cart. These warehouses on wheels make sure that the correct materials are always accessible during a job.

Materials at an Incorrect Location

Challenge: Materials placed in the wrong location will lead to expensive labor straying from a job to look for these items. This is a waste of time when it comes to a contractor's busy schedule.

 Truck customer-managed inventory or job carts are both great solutions to keep products restocked and in the same location overnight.

Stolen Materials

Challenge: It’s something you hope will never happen, but unfortunately sometimes it does. In the event of stolen inventory, labor delays and material costs will rise.

Solution: Job carts, storage units, and job trailers can keep materials locked and secured. Since materials can be restocked daily, there is no need to keep a surplus of supplies on a job site.

Schedule Changes

Challenge: Changes to the schedule can cause confusion and delays in labor if not communicated properly.

 To make sure that contractors stay up to date, partner with a distributor that leverages digital solutions that help you stay on top of tracking material and changes 24/7.

Incomplete Project Plans

Challenge: When project plans remain pending, this causes logical challenges. If you can't depict which additional items you might need to complete a job – what should you do?

 A third-party can help source and provide all materials needed for success. This gives you time to gear your focus toward other priorities.

Managing the Paper Trail

Challenge: Regulating the paper trail of who signed for which shipments and how many were delivered on-site can be a struggle.

Solution: Digital solutions exist that can store your shipping documents and details. Then you can access these at any time online.

It’s Time to Take Control

Whether you're missing materials or there's a change in the schedule, it’s entirely possible that something will go wrong with material management on a construction job site. But by planning and implementing a material management program, logistical obstacles can be a thing of the past. Partnering with a distributor is the next step to turn frustration into productivity.

Article originally published February 13, 2020 and updated for accuracy and relevance.

Steve Crocker


Steve Crocker
Steve Crocker is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of U.S. Construction for Wesco.