Contractors invest significant funds in the supplies, materials, and equipment required for each project site. The management of construction inventory, encompassing the processes of ordering, storing, and distributing these products, plays a pivotal role in the budget and schedule adherence of a construction project.
As construction teams progress through a project, the timely availability of everything from fuel to lighting fixtures becomes crucial for their work. The primary objective of construction inventory management is to maximize workers’ productivity by ensuring they have access to the necessary tools, equipment, and materials, all while controlling costs and minimizing waste.
Table of contents
- 1 Categories of Construction Inventory Management
- 2 5 Principles for Effective Construction Inventory Management
- 3 Maintaining Control & Ensuring Accountability
- 4 Asia Pacific Projects: Your Trusted Partner in Construction Management Services
Categories of Construction Inventory Management
In the realm of construction, there are three primary classifications of inventory that contractors must oversee:
Consumables comprise items that are either single-use or wear out quickly, necessitating replacement. Inventory managers must identify the swiftest-moving items and maintain sufficient stock to ensure prompt replenishment. Water bottles consistently rank among the most popular inventory items on any project. However, the demand for other items varies depending on the nature of the work. For instance, on heavy civil projects, work gloves and safety vests are often treated as single-use items due to the harsh working conditions.
Building materials are integral components incorporated into the final project. The procurement and delivery of these materials involve considerations such as availability, pricing, storage, and timing. While bulky or custom-fabricated items are usually delivered directly to the jobsite, smaller, more frequently used items like fasteners, caulk, sealants, or hardware may be kept in the contractor’s inventory warehouse for on-demand delivery.
Tools & Equipment
Tools and equipment must be meticulously tracked, shared, and distributed between project locations. The diversity within this category is significant, with disparities between power tools and heavy machinery. Managing heavy equipment necessitates consideration of maintenance and service requirements, including regular inspections to ensure safe and efficient operation. The storage and transportation logistics for an excavator, for example, differ significantly from those of a drill.
Each type of inventory demands a unique approach, requiring comprehensive knowledge of various factors to ensure projects remain within time and budget constraints. Effective Construction Inventory Management entails not just counting items on shelves but also coordinating closely between the office, field, and warehouse for seamless operations.
5 Principles for Effective Construction Inventory Management
Certainly, overseeing all the resources on a construction site involves a considerable amount of care and organization, and each contractor may adopt a slightly different approach to inventory management. Nevertheless, there are some best practices that assist contractors in maintaining control over the inflow and outflow of supplies and materials within their businesses. This ensures the timely availability of crucial items and minimizes waste on jobsites.
Given the benefits of Construction Inventory Management and the challenges associated with executing it effectively, what actions can managers take to optimize the supply flow to jobsites?
Anticipate needs — and be prepared for surprises
Plan ahead to keep as many items as possible readily available, preventing workers from having to make last-minute trips to the hardware store. Last-minute purchases are challenging to track, offer no price control, and lack accountability. Insights from past projects, specifications for current projects, and experience help determine the resources each jobsite will likely require and in what quantities.
Maintain ample staffing
While anticipation is crucial in Construction Inventory Management, having a robust backup plan is equally important. Unless equipped with a crystal ball, the inventory team will inevitably need to source items at the last minute. Ensure there are enough staff members available to handle these eleventh-hour requests while also managing the regular flow of goods.
Strategically handle delays
Effective Construction Inventory Management means never rejecting requests from site staff. However, not every request is genuinely urgent, and sometimes delaying material delivery by a day won’t cause significant chaos at the jobsite. During busy periods, strategize which deliveries can be postponed.
Harness the power of technology
Implementing a shared inventory management solution can simplify the process for jobsite staff to order necessary items, review previous orders, and monitor the progress of ongoing orders. QR codes or RFID chips aid in identifying materials upon arrival at a site’s laydown space, eliminating the need for site teams to search for what they need. GPS and geofencing contribute to streamlined equipment tracking and swift asset recovery in case of theft. Importantly, software and technology solutions empower inventory managers to analyze past jobs, predicting inventory requirements and timing for future projects.
Operate inventory like a business
Each time a crew member uses the company credit card at a hardware store or rents machinery, the company is essentially outsourcing its inventory management. Running an effective Construction Inventory Management program can transform this process into a profit center within the company. Items can be purchased in bulk and charged to individual jobsites, while equipment rental can function like an independent business. The profits generated can then be reinvested in maintenance or acquiring new inventory.
Maintaining Control & Ensuring Accountability
The primary objective of a construction inventory manager is to enhance productivity by guaranteeing that work crews have all the necessary resources on the jobsite. This assurance is achieved by ensuring they possess the required tools, equipment, and materials.
When on-site employees rush to the hardware store at the eleventh hour to purchase necessary supplies using the company credit card, it can incur significant costs for a contractor. This process results in lost time, initially as the employee’s productivity is compromised, and subsequently as the progress of construction may be delayed until the materials arrive on site.
The advantage of bulk buying is forfeited in individual purchases, causing the employee to potentially pay a higher price per item in-store compared to what the contractor would spend when procuring items in larger quantities and maintaining them in stock. Managing costs for single purchases is considerably more challenging than for bulk acquisitions.
Ultimately, contractors relinquish accountability for spur-of-the-moment employee purchases. There is no means for the contractor to verify the necessity of the materials, the required quantity, or the destination of those materials once they reach the jobsite. Thorough inventory management tracks material usage to prevent waste and ensures employees are responsible for their equipment.
Asia Pacific Projects: Your Trusted Partner in Construction Management Services
Welcome to Asia Pacific Projects, where we bring innovation and efficiency to the forefront of construction management. At Asia Pacific Projects, we understand the critical role that Construction Inventory Management plays in the success of construction projects. As highlighted in our approach, maintaining control and ensuring accountability are fundamental principles that guide our services.
Our comprehensive construction management services, detailed at Asia Pacific Projects Construction Management, are designed to streamline the complexities of construction projects, providing solutions that go beyond the conventional. We recognize the significance of having the right tools, equipment, and materials readily available on the jobsite to optimize productivity.
With Asia Pacific Projects, you can expect a partnership that not only prioritizes the timely availability of resources but also minimizes costs, eliminates waste, and holds every aspect of your Construction Inventory Management to the highest standards. Explore the future of construction management with Asia Pacific Projects, where success is built on precision, innovation, and a dedication to exceeding your expectations.
Please send information or requests that you need to consult for Asia Pacific Projects via:
NGUYEN THI HIEU | Local Relations
Mobile phone: +84 918 331 489