A construction project comprises a million moving parts, and the project manager is responsible for ensuring all those moving parts are progressing according to plan. One critical aspect of managing a construction project is keeping track of the building materials needed to complete the project. Undoubtedly, it is an integral part of ensuring the project goes well since contractors spend most of the project cost on getting building materials. If you do not have the correct quantity of materials at a specific time, chances are some of your activities will not proceed and affect the overall timeline.
Another thing to consider is how to forecast and plan the amount of suppliers’ needs correctly. It is not unusual for building sites to have a lot of trash left over after the job is done, but it can be avoided with proper planning. Material management is a complicated process that can make or break a building company. Having efficient and effective construction material management can help get work done on time, increase earnings, and ensure that cash flows in the right direction.
In this article, let us define construction material management, its benefits, common challenges, and several tips and tricks on handling construction materials.
Defining Construction Material Management
In a nutshell, construction material management is the process of planning, buying, storing, and keeping track of the materials used in a building job. It includes figuring out what materials are needed, finding suppliers, maintaining inventory, and taking care of transportation.
How well you handle building materials can make or break a project’s budget. If you do not have a good plan for managing your materials, your costs could go through the roof. If your workers are less productive than expected, you waste materials or miss project goals and deadlines.
Construction material management comprises many activities throughout the project cycle, such as:
- Material Planning, Purchasing, and Procurement
- Scheduling, Transportation, Receiving, and Deliveries
- Quality Control
- Storage and Inventory Control
- Waste Management
Benefits of An Effective and Efficient Construction Materials Management System
Effective building materials management is essential to keep the project going. This system allows general contractors or project managers to get the most work done, be more accurate, communicate better, and fight inflation. Using construction software can help streamline the process by automating repetitive tasks and provide valuable insights to make sound decisions. A good construction manager can use software to lower the cost of materials through rebates, organize inventory, keep track of orders, and plan delivery times.
In this section, let us look at some benefits you can realize with a sound construction materials management system.
A construction materials management system helps you and other contractors track and handle the materials you need for projects. Construction tools like software can also make detailed reports to ensure no materials are wasted and keep track of inventory levels so that new materials can be ordered in time for future projects. This information lets you know which team completes their activities on time and which needs materials to start their tasks.
Accurate Material Tracking and Forecast
With construction tools, you can improve how quickly you do things and how well you do them. You can keep track of all the materials for each job, from the first order to their delivery. This program also helps keep track of what materials are being used. This way, you will always know your current inventory levels and if it is time to replenish your supplies.
Combat Material Inflation
Material management is also essential for fighting inflation because it accurately explains how much things cost. This lets businesses make intelligent choices about what to buy and ensure they spend only a little. Material management can also show you where to save money through group buying. The government can then use this knowledge to make changes to the budget, which will help keep inflation in check.
Common Challenges When Managing Construction Materials
Keeping track of materials is probably one of the hardest things to do in the construction. Material management includes a wide range of tasks, such as planning, buying, getting bills, tracking, adjusting to changes in the scope of a project, and keeping and reducing waste. It may seem a lot, thinking you must follow every nail or every screw in your warehouse. Yes, managing materials can be complex and full of changes that you did not expect. Because of this, it is essential to be aware of things that could go wrong, like missing dates or going over budget.
In this section, let us look at the common challenges you may encounter in materials management.
Inaccurate Material Forecast
Estimating the materials you will need throughout the project is challenging. Sometimes, unforeseen events may cause you to need more than initially planned. If the material estimate is correct, there will be more or less of the material. Try not to use pen and paper to be as accurate as possible, and try investing in good estimating software.
No Space For Storage
When your materials are delivered too early, you may not have enough space in your warehouse to store them. When left out in the open, there is a chance that the weather will damage it or someone will steal it. Depending on the job’s size and your business’s size, you may need to plan how ample your storage should be or when you should forecast your deliveries.
There is always a risk of your deliveries getting delayed – it may be due to weather or delays in fabricating the materials. If the arrival time has been delayed, you and your supplier must discuss things better. You can avoid problems by ensuring that every deal you make with your seller is written down correctly. Ensure you have told your supplier everything they need to know about your job.
Material bid buying decisions made early on are crucial to the success of the project as a whole. Material managers can also save a lot of money if they handle the buying process correctly. But now, one problem is that a project’s scope may change as it comes together. This can affect the buying process and make signing contracts harder for everyone else.
Strategies to Better Handle Your Construction Materials
Using the right strategies to handle your construction materials can help your business finish projects quickly and save money. In this section, we provided seven of the best tips and tricks that you can use for your project.
Create a Well-Thought-Out Plan
If you carefully plan a job to determine the exact number and types of materials you will need, you will not order too much or too little. It is critical to plan out your materials early on in the project so it is accurately forecasted in your budgets and schedules. This also cuts down on waste and saves money.
Short List Your Suppliers
The material planning and procurement will be easier if the buying process is centralized. With this plan, you can keep a list of approved suppliers and work out long-term contracts to ensure a steady supply of goods at competitive prices. You will also be assured that you are working with high-quality suppliers and reduce the risk of any potential roadblock or conflict.
Monitor Your Stock Levels
An inventory management system to track and monitor materials can be an excellent way to avoid having too much or too little stock. During this step, you’ll check the store, set reorder points, and change the inventory. You can try using a construction app that notifies you if your inventory levels are too low or if you have a delivery coming up.
Allocate A Dedicated Space for Material Storage
Material supplies can be kept up with the help of better storage. With this plan, you will name things into groups so they’re easy to find. You will also handle things correctly so they are intact and worn down.
Even if you carefully plan and have a well-organized delivery schedule, you may still need a safe place to store things at some point. If the job spot is safe from damage and theft, that is the best place to keep everything. Copper wire is a high-value raw material that should always be supported. You can also consider having a warehouse worker monitor who takes materials from the stock or borrows a specific tool or equipment.
Focus On Proper Waste Management
Think about giving away things you do not need. Many businesses in the area will take building materials and old appliances. If you have extra wood or kitchen cabinets in good shape, the best thing to do is give them away. Things like paints and electronics are considered hazardous, so research how to handle them properly.
Build Relationships with Suppliers
Trust and dependability will come from having good relationships with suppliers. To keep the material management process running smoothly, you can regularly discuss the project’s needs, deadlines, and quality standards.
Use Construction Technology
It is essential to use building management software to make managing materials easier. The software will help you keep track of your inventory, make purchases, and plan projects online. This allows your business to be more accurate and efficient.