Material Shortages in Construction- How Delivery Control plays a vital role

Globally, demand for products and materials is substantially exceeding supply – according to John Newcomb, CEO of the Builders Merchants Federation and Peter Caplehorn, CEO of the Construction Products Association,

“Basic trends of the last six months remain, with global demand far in excess of supply leading to product shortages, rapid and sustained price inflation, long lead times and uncertainty regarding deliveries.”

The Financial Times stated that the rate of input price inflation had been pushed 

to its highest since data collection records began” 

Material shortages and subsequent challenges created by them have organisational and financial implications for the construction industry and its projects. Within such projects, it is likely that there will be tasks that are dependent upon preceding tasks – delayed deliveries caused by material shortages and extended lead times mean any task reliant on those materials are subsequently hindered. Other materials related to those tasks that have already been delivered and materials delivered too far in advance because of long-term shortages must be stored. This comes with additional risks and costs – potential for materials to be damaged when in storage, either from incorrect or repeated handling, or being stored under the wrong conditions.

Another risk, particularly when storing products delivered too far in advance, is that these materials may ‘go missing’. Sourcing immediate replacements or alternatives when material shortages are so prevalent can be next to impossible, especially for commodities – this can lead to project delays, interim site closures, and prolongation of costs.  

This situation is further exacerbated by the disruption Covid-19 continues to cause to supply chains. Incidents in the shipping industry have contributed to long lead-times and substantial delays in global maritime freight – the temporary closure of Yantian International Container Terminal in Shenzhen due to a Covid-19 outbreak, the Suez Canal blockage, high freight rates, and limited availability on cargo ships. The pandemic has also led to shortages in hauliers/HGV/LGV drivers, lengthening lead times too – the requirement for non-symptomatic drivers to self-isolate when pinged by the covid app is worsening this situation.

Consequently, the complexity of construction site management has increased. Alternative arrangements may have to be made to overcome the challenges mentioned above, which will involve rescheduling – under these circumstances a Delivery Management System (DMS) is indispensable. Zone Manager, used properly, provides a clear picture available to project planners as to who is delivering what and when.  The project plan will indicate when critical materials are required at each point in the project.  The delivery schedule tells you what your sub-contractors are bringing in.  Does the timing and scale match with what they say they are going to complete and when they said they would complete it?  Reporting quickly identifies unusual activity.  In times of shortage, materials might have been delivered to you but then ‘borrowed’ from your site to complete another.

Zone Manager can take this to another level. The material tracking capability enables you to record down to pallet level what is being brought to site.  Accurate tracking of materials means you not only know where your materials are but also their quantities – this enables more effective and efficient risk management, particularly in situations where there are long lead times and delivery delays. 

Zone Manager’s DMS has all the capabilities you would expect from a delivery management system, with the added benefit of being a real-time management tool – from holding park management and real-time gate control, to crane hoist management, you can control events as they happen. The system is highly customisable – with their extensive logistics experience, our team can suggest creative and practical solutions to your challenges and develop functionalities within the system to meet the needs and complexities of specific projects. Click here for further information about Zone Manager’s DMS features and functionalities in construction or in our brochure which you can request here To discover more about how Zone Manager’s DMS can help your business, particularly when operating in such a challenging environment, reach out to our friendly team here or get a quote here 

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