4 Ways to Overcome Your Biggest Construction Transportation Headaches

by Mick McGrory, Vice President – Sales

As a general contractor (GC), you’ve got a lot to deliver to and from the job site.  Scheduling, inventory management, raw material delivery and transporting heavy machinery represents a MAJOR portion of your expenditures when completing large, project-based work (upwards of 10-18% of total project hard costs).

Most GCs prefer the transportation of materials to be handled independently by subcontractors or suppliers, allowing them to focus on the bigger tasks at hand.  While not uncommon, this practice is becoming dated in a new generation of advanced supply chain tools and resources available to you, coupled with a need for more streamlined project solutions.

To maximize your transportation management on the job site, there are four key components you’re missing by not engaging a logistics expert:   

1) Plan the work; work the plan.

By outsourcing the transportation component of your projects, a GC regains control through an initial planning process, creating and repeating SOPs, load consolidation, and automatic load tendering to the lowest cost, on-time compliant carriers.

  • Do you know the dimensions, needs and materials specific for your deliveries?
  • Are you shipping LTL when your loads could be consolidated to FTL?

Beyond the initial planning for your loads, your teams can better align with installation crews on-site to avoid labor and equipment overruns.  Taking time to pre-plan and understand the full scope of the project’s transportation needs will positively impact your bottom line and installation schedule deadlines.

2) Create internal efficiencies while reducing costs.

For the same reason projects are subcontracted for trade specialties, your construction transportation management is no less critical to keep your job site plans moving forward.  Too often (and to the GCs detriment), the practice of leaving the transportation component decentralized among your internal staff, subs and vendors results in costly delays and overages, i.e. your skilled workers waiting for materials to be delivered to the job site instead of assembling the project, wasting precious time and manpower.

By outsourcing the logistics function, you free up resources to focus on your core competencies. This lowers inventory carrying costs while improving safety and installation timelines.

A good 3PL is in the business of helping your transportation department become better and more accountable; to work alongside project managers and carriers to fully understand the scope and scale of the project at hand, allowing your internal staff to focus on what they do best.

3) Gain visibility and transparency.  

Supply chain transparency shouldn’t be elusive or “nice-to-have” – it’s a crucial layer of project execution.  Ensuring on-time site deliveries and having the right amount of inventory is a common pain point.  Subs and vendors ship orders on their own schedule, often flooding materials to unprepared job site to be stored for months.

This cycle creates an inbound job site delivery process based on consumption.  It’s highly inefficient and costly for GCs to carry excess inventory.  An established 3PL partner has the resources and technology of a user- and integration-friendly transportation management system (TMS), capable of providing:

  • cradle-to-grave visibility of supplier orders
  • inbound shipment transit
  • freight invoice settlement
  • carrier performance management

This type of real-time visibility goes hand-in-hand with the material delivery schedule to better synchronize the overall construction project.

4) Drive decisions from your data.

The old saying goes “if you’re not keeping score, you are just practicing”.  Your 3PL should be keeping score!

Do you have a standard procedure to budget costs and measure performance targets?  Do you get monthly reports outlining your transportation data and how it’s performing for you? 

At Sunset Transportation, for example, it is standard procedure to work in collaboration with a GC to create specific budget and performance targets not only to measure their success, but also to initiate corrective actions when the need arises.   These key performance indicators (KPIs) are identified and confirmed through mutual collaboration and a robust reporting system.  By continually evaluating these agreed-upon metrics, both partners have efficient ways to measure job site performance and monitor success.

Furthermore, your own shipping data and reporting paints an instant picture of what’s working well, where improvements can be made, and what can be replicated for future success.

Are you in complete control of your construction transportation, or is next week’s steel delivery to the job site keeping you up at night?

Know that there are many options to streamline your construction supply chain that provide legitimate efficiencies, measurable consistencies, and development of standard operating procedures.  The time has come to ask yourself if you’d still rather leave the transportation of these complex materials and job site coordination to someone who ISN’T an expert in construction transportation?  Is it really worth the cost?

Sunset Transportation takes your supply chain needs very seriously and understands the complex detail required for your industry.  We know the crucial and time-sensitive nature of efficient project management.  Let Sunset give you the tools to improve your supply chain management with our industry and carrier partnerships (such as the Specialized Carriers & Riggers Association), load engineering, scheduling, permitting, shipment visibility and delivery execution for your next project.

To learn more about how Sunset Transportation merges smart technology solutions with continuous improvement, contact us today at 314-328-7454 or by emailing Mick McGrory