Contractors are always under pressure to get a job done on time. When they don’t, there can be a negative impact on costs and the client relationship. That’s why it’s ironic that construction is one of the more inefficient industries when it comes to work processes.
Several factors are to blame for reduced productivity in this field. For one, there are plenty of small contractors that are awarded small jobs. This may be great for their bottom line, but it can also present challenges related to manpower planning, particularly within the skilled trades. Also, maintaining an active and robust project funnel while not overwhelming individual project schedules is a juggling act that can trouble even the most experienced contractor. Ever-changing code requirements are another challenge. Many businesses, especially those with limited resources, can spend more time studying new regulations than focusing on a project.
Here are some tips to help the construction industry “Lean up” and improve some common inefficiencies.
Offer the Right Materials at the Right Time
Spending unnecessary time on material handling is unproductive for both a contractor and the client. Contractors can avoid wasting this precious time by ensuring their workers always have what they need, when they need it, at the exact point of installation. Materials should be delivered to them in-full and even pre-assembled when necessary. Kitting and prefabrication are effective ways to package related products in one convenient place. Other time-saving techniques can include:
- Vendor-managed inventory (VMI): Customized jobsite service where the customer entrusts a third party to manage all inventory replenishment at the customer’s facility
- Job trailers: Turnkey mobile workspace and secure material storage system that maximizes efficiency and improves profitability
- Job carts: Pre-stocked rolling stock carts with customized inventory, allowing inventory management to the point of installation
Using these concepts will spare your workers from scrambling for the resources they need. This will allow them to save time, avoid defects, and lower costs.
Change Your Daily Habits and Practices
Updating the material handling process could be a drastic move for some contractors. Many of them might be reluctant to change, especially if they feel that learning and applying new processes will hinder their work even more. These changes may not be fully adopted or implemented overnight, but even small adjustments will show their worth over time. Encourage your workers to focus on the ultimate objective, which is to keep your business healthy, profitable and competitive.
Engage With Experts
Most major distributors have the expertise to help you streamline your entire supply chain. They understand the power and value of Lean and the positive impact it can have on your business. These experts are equipped to help you identify wastes, consolidate material and shipments, and avoid non-value-added steps in your workers’ day. Using their resources can be a convenient solution to keeping your project on track and your team’s productivity high.
Here are some other benefits that a third-party vendor can provide:
- Just-in-time delivery of goods
- Precise material staging and release to help avoid excess jobsite inventory
- Warranty support and post-project jobsite clear-off
Contractors are paid to deliver a high-quality product for their clients on time and within budget. That's why it's unfortunate that their attention is too often distracted by material availability, lead time, and jobsite inventory management needs. Leveraging expertise from your distributor and manufacturer partners is an effective way to overcome these challenges. Their knowledge and resources will help you apply Lean practices across your business, improve your supply chain, and begin to develop a lower-cost construction process that will be more effective and profitable.