It’s not uncommon for contractors to face material management obstacles. Projects are often delayed because of haphazard storage, damaged products and other issues. While some of these problems are out of a contractor’s control, others can be solved with outside expertise, preventative measures, and Lean practices.
Here’s a closer look at three material management roadblocks all contractors should know about — and how to get around them.
Contractors can waste a lot of time asking questions about inventory. They might not know what’s already on site, what’s been ordered, what’s arrived, or where items have been stored. The most efficient way to get a firmer handle on your material is by partnering with an electrical distributor. These businesses use their logistical expertise in combination with Lean construction principles to help you implement a solid material management plan. They apply techniques such as just-in-time delivery, pre-fabrication, and value stream mapping to give workers easy access to the tools they need for the job. These services allow contractors to focus on getting the work done rather than inventory concerns.
Damaged material is a huge roadblock for contractors. Incidents can happen at any time, but some defects occur before delivery. Contractors aren’t responsible for material that's damaged before they get it, but they could still pay a price. Taking the time to notify the supplier and wait for replacements costs more time and money. Contractors could also assume responsibility for material that is ruined in storage. There are many ways to prevent product damage, such as avoiding cluttered aisles and not overloading racks and shelves. Workers should also be trained on proper machine and material handling to further reduce liability.
Stopping work to receive material dampers productivity. Most contractors don’t have time to thoroughly inspect orders. They often just sign for packages, put them aside and return to work. This can be an expensive choice, especially if they receive many shipments. Inaccurate orders can result in more expenses and downtime, putting a project at risk of being delayed and over-budget.
Storage is also a major concern. Centralized, non-organized storage areas force contractors to stop work to look for material. These areas are often unsupervised and "picked through," increasing the risk of damage, theft, loss and injury. As a project progresses, workers may take items that aren’t theirs, or inadvertently throw away material they need. The good news is that these problems can be avoided. Distributors offer services such as repackaging and pin-point location delivery to help reduce waste and ensure consistent, seamless material flow. They also work on the front lines to make sure incoming deliveries are on time and accurate.
Keep Your Project Going
Construction jobs shouldn’t be disrupted by ineffective material management. Consider working with an accomplished electrical distributor to help maintain precise inventory and improve productivity. Implementing Lean practices and offering training will also help you avoid product damage, downtime, and added costs. Taking these simple steps could produce positive business results while making your workers’ jobs much easier.
Times are changing in manufacturing. The Internet of Things has made its way to the industry and spawned a new term in the process: Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Smart factories are becoming more popular (and expected) thanks to the ability to connect key technologies. Manufacturers who haven’t followed suit yet are encouraged to get moving.
In some industries, things are relatively stable from year to year. While manufacturing was done in much the same way for many years, emerging trends promise to change that. An original equipment manufacturer (OEM) must be resourceful and search for opportunities to stay competitive in an increasingly volatile market. While there may be challenges ahead, applying industry best practices will help any manufacturer operate at the top of their game.
Step outside and you’ll notice that the air is brisk and people are bundled up in coats. Winter is upon us. And while that brings festive parties and holiday deals, winter means extra strains on wire and cable. Cold temperatures and atmospheric changes that come with winter weather can impact the effectiveness of some cabling materials. Prepare for cool weather and winter storms to ensure uninterrupted operation that’s reliable every day of the year.
Article originally published Sept. 2, 2016, and updated for accuracy and relevance.
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