Overcoming City Centre Construction challenges with Consolidation Centres

Inner city developments within densely populated urban environments are a permanent fixture in the city centre landscape. With regards to traffic congestion, city centres already face overwhelming traffic pressure and disruptions and construction sites inevitably increase traffic volumes through delivery vehicles.

At Zone Manager we understand that demonstrating compliance and improvements in safety, congestion and air quality for large construction projects particularly in city centres, is of the utmost importance to project managers as well as to local communities.

The complexity of these large construction projects in concentrated urban areas means that there are often logistical challenges such as restrictions surrounding frequency and number of deliveries as well as limited access to delivery areas and loading bays. Even when projects are forced to use loading bays underground due to lack of outside space, this adds significant travel time between gate and dock. Deliveries of materials by individual suppliers are becoming increasingly untenable.

Consolidation centres are becoming fundamental in offering a solution and thereby overcoming logistical challenges, reducing CO2 emissions, ensuring that constructors are complying with environmental regulations and ultimately increasing construction efficiency and productivity.

Consolidation centres are designed to minimise vehicle journeys, while also improving delivery reliability and efficiency.

What is a consolidation centre and what are the benefits?

The principle behind a consolidation centre is that:

• One location receives multiple deliveries from suppliers

• Different goods for the same site are grouped together at the centre

• A single delivery vehicle delivers the consolidated goods to the site

• This helps reduce the number of journeys needed and minimise disruption for the recipient

Other benefits include:

 • Off-site security screening of deliveries

• Fuel efficiency

• Central place for packaging to be returned to with centralised resources for compacting and recycling

• Pre-assembly work can be carried out in a clean warm environment and therefore minimising damage and demands on space on site

• Delivery efficiency

• Shorter routes to known distances makes them conducive to the use of electric and hybrid vehicles

• As you need to store less stock on-site, you can release floor space for other means, while still having easy access to the supplies you need                                                       

Using Consolidation Centres means that multiple small deliveries can be combined into larger efficient full loads reducing traffic and emissions. It also ensures communities are not disturbed and developing sites are not disordered by the presence of oversized vehicles. The movement of materials to and from a local consolidation centre managed by Zone Manager, allows deliveries to become straightforward and efficient giving project managers the opportunity to book, manage and track goods and materials effectively and with complete control.

Advanced Features of Consolidation Centres

How does Zone Manager integrate with consolidation centres?

Zone Manager can manage consolidation centres and locations including milk-round traffic to and from the main locations.  This ensures additional control and organisation for project managers and the opportunity to reduce deliveries by up to 68%.

Zone Manager, however, goes one step further than this. Where specific loads are needed directly on site due to the size or immediacy of use (i.e. joists, beams or concrete) Zone Manager allows custom configuration where automated rules can be set up therefore directing specific loads for delivery directly to site. Furthermore, automated reverse rules can also be configured so that if an attempt is made to deliver specific items to the consolidation centre, they will be automatically redirected to the main site.  

With security measures becoming increasingly prevalent in the delivery and logistics sector, here at Zone Manager, developers have been employing tried and tested solutions for the security of deliveries coming into and out of consolidation centres. Zone Manager’s integration of ‘lock codes’ for bonded deliveries from a consolidation centre to a main site gives security assurances that are increasingly sought.

Here at Zone Manager, due to our wealth of experience within construction logistics, we have witnessed an increase in demand for our consultation services particularly with bespoke logistic solutions utilising consolidation centres. With inner city emissions targets and environmental concerns continuing to be priorities for councils on new development contracts, it’s no surprise that the demand for our specialist consultancy will continue to grow.

What challenges do consolidation centres present?

Consolidation centres are not a new phenomenon- in fact they’ve been around for a couple of decades and had a revival in the late 1990’s.  However, with inner city emission targets at the forefront of all city councils up and down the country, the consolidation centre concept has once again been revived.

One of the main sticking points for consolidation centres previously is the added layer of operational costs and more importantly who foots the bill. It is normally the main contractor to decide to use a consolidation centres and therefore carries the cost. However, subcontractors, suppliers and hauliers all reap the benefit, and solutions need to be found to spread the cost amongst these other participants.

It may be inevitable that this hurdle will have to be overcome by regulation within planning regimes as it seems more and more likely that new inner-city developments will require robust environmental management plans which may include using consolidation centres.