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How Builders Merchants can overcome the challenges of construction site deliveries

Construction site


An estimated 90% of large-scale construction projects are delivered late, nearly two thirds of them by at least two months and 1 in 4 construction projects are delivered more than 250 days late (New Civil Engineer Jan 2022) with around 10% delayed by up to a year. Add to this the increased cost of manufacturing and transportation, keeping building projects on track is set to remain a challenge. 

One of the ways that construction companies can minimise delays is by ensuring that the right materials are delivered to the right location when they are required. Builders Merchants play a crucial role in the timely and accurate delivery of construction materials to site and can do a number of things in order to improve their service to construction sites. 

Building materials delivered late to site, only in part loads or worse, not at all, can cause a construction project to grind to a halt and waste time and money on contracted labour that would use the materials. 


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Accurate delivery scheduling, route planning and customer notifications will help builders’ merchants improve their on-time deliveries, to the right site location and provide customer notifications to ensure the site is fully aware and prepared for their arrival.  

  1. What are the challenges in managing deliveries to construction sites?  
  2. What are the benefits of improving timeliness and accuracy of deliveries and how can route optimisation and delivery scheduling software help?


Construction site management


The top 9 challenges managing deliveries of building products to construction sites

1. Coordinating with multiple stakeholders: Typically, several stakeholders are engaged in large-scale construction projects, including the general contractor, subcontractors, and suppliers. Coordination of deliveries with all of these stakeholders is time-consuming and, if not done effectively, will result in delays. 

2. Managing many deliveries: On a daily basis, construction sites will receive multiple deliveries of different products. It is difficult to manage these supplies successfully, particularly if the site is large or has restricted or multiple access points. 

3. Ensuring timely delivery: Delays in delivery cascade across the project, resulting in costly overruns and missed deadlines. Keeping a project on schedule requires timely delivery of supplies and availability of contractors. 

4. Maintaining a safe work environment: It is essential to ensure the safety of workers on sites. This involves controlling the flow of delivery trucks and ensuring that materials are unloaded, stored and handled in a safe and timely manner. It is critical to have resources available when making a delivery in order to avoid delays and waiting on-site. 

5. Dealing with last-minute changes: Changes to the project scope or schedule might result in last-minute changes in the delivery of materials, which can be challenging to manage. Having a building products supplier that can quickly and easily rearrange deliveries is important for a construction project. 

6. Inventory management: It is critical to manage inventory on a construction site to ensure that materials are available when required and to prevent overstocking or running short. This could mean that goods need to be delivered on the day they are required if on site storage is limited. 

7. Ensuring order accuracy: Incorrect orders will cause delays and increase costs. To prevent these issues, it is critical to ensure that orders are correct and complete. The delivery of building products on-time and in full (OTIF) is vitally important for any construction project. Product suppliers need to ensure that the correct number of items have been loaded. If multiple deliveries are made from one vehicle all goods need to be unloaded at the correct stops. 

8. Managing transportation: Coordination of material delivery to the construction site can be challenging, particularly if the location is rural or has restricted access. Having visibility of when deliveries are due or incoming can help site managers to schedule work, knowing a delivery will arrive at a certain time, it also prevents wasted time contacting the supplier to find out the status or ETA of the delivery. 

9. Dealing with material damage or loss: Material damage or loss causes delays and adds cost. To reduce risks, adequate handling and storage procedures must be in place. It also helps if the supplier has a digital proof of delivery solution that captures photographic evidence. This not only allows for faster approval, crediting, and reordering of damages, but it also serves as a vital tool for establishing when products were delivered in pristine condition, as well as where and with whom they were left with on site. 


Building site delivery


Six ways that improving delivery times and customer service will benefit a construction project


1. Increased project efficiency: On-time material delivery will minimise delays and keep the construction project on schedule.  

2. Reduced costs: Late deliveries will lead to cost overruns due to down time waiting for products. This will be avoided by improving delivery times and notification of deliveries to site. 

3. Improved relationships with stakeholders: Accurate delivery times and delivery notifications will lead to trusted relationships between the supplier and the construction site project managers. If site/project managers do not need to keep asking where their deliveries are their time can be better spent managing the construction project. 

4. Increased customer satisfaction: Prompt and reliable delivery of materials on time and in full will lead to increased customer satisfaction, which in turn will improve the overall reputation of the building supplies company and lead to further orders in the future. 

5. Better project planning: Knowledge of accurate delivery times and improved customer service through accurate delivery notifications enables site managers to concentrate on managing their project, as the construction company will have access to specific delivery schedules so they can be more responsive to unloading goods as they are delivered. This will help reduce the time a delivery vehicle is at site, releasing it to continue with deliveries or return to base faster. 

6. Reduced risk of delays: Accuracy of delivery times and proactive notifications will reduce the risk of delays caused by incorrect orders or other issues, keeping the project on track. 


Delivery Route Scheduling Software


Eight ways in which delivery scheduling and route optimisation software can help with the delivery of building products to construction sites


1. Planning the most efficient delivery routes: Route optimisation software will analyse real-time traffic data and calculate the shortest, fastest or most economical routes for deliveries, helping to reduce delivery times, miles driven, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. If deliveries are optimised and one additional delivery can be added per vehicle per day this can make a huge difference to the profitability of builders’ merchants' deliveries. 

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2. Coordinating with multiple stakeholders:  Automated notifications from the software will help coordinate deliveries with multiple stakeholders, ensuring that everyone is on the same page, notifying the site that a delivery is due and the expected time of arrival at the site. While also messaging should a delivery be delayed due to unforeseen circumstances such as roadworks or road traffic incidents. 

3. Managing multiple deliveries: Delivery scheduling software can quickly and efficiently schedule and manage multiple deliveries, ensuring that materials are delivered to the right place at the right time. 

4. Tracking deliveries in real-time: GPS tracking provides real-time tracking of deliveries, allowing you to monitor their progress live on a map and to make any necessary adjustments in real time. This provides planners with an oversight and the ability to locate vehicles without having to telephone the driver and be proactive in informing customers of any potential delays. 

5. Reducing fuel consumption: Route optimisation software will plan delivery routes quickly that minimise the miles driven and fuel consumption, cutting costs and carbon footprint. 

6. Improving safety: Route optimisation software will plan routes that avoid hazardous areas or roads with low bridges, improving the safety of drivers and reducing the risk of incidents. 

7. Reducing delivery errors: Route optimisation software will help reduce delivery errors by providing clear, accurate delivery instructions to the driver, while proof of delivery enables goods to be checked onto and off the vehicle ensuring no goods are missed when either loading or unloading the vehicle. 

8. Improving communication: Digital notifications improve communication between planners, drivers, dispatchers, and site managers by providing real-time updates and alerts. This avoids time wasting phone calls for both the materials supplier and construction site asking, “where is my delivery?”.  

In summary, builders’ merchants will improve delivery and customer service to construction sites using delivery scheduling, route optimisation, and digital proof of delivery software, all while increasing their own efficiency and on-time and in-full deliveries. Improved customer satisfaction will lead to additional orders if a builders’ merchant can be trusted to deliver the right items on time. 


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