If your company is working on multiple projects around the city, then equipment and inventory management are nothing new to you. The unpredictability of the construction industry has made the management of parts and equipment a difficult task. Access to the right parts or equipment in a timely manner greatly affect customer service and work schedules.
Scheduling the use of equipment can often become a complicated and cumbersome task. This is especially true if there is a significant distance between projects or if the projects require many of the same tools. These activities can be managed with efficiency if the organisation adopts a robust construction inventory management system.
In this blog post, we discuss the advantages of a well-maintained inventory management system and some tips and tricks to ensure your business runs efficiently.
Advantages of Inventory Management
1. Project Milestones
Time scheduling and coordination on construction projects are not just a matter of reputation but can be crucial to systems like earthing, concrete laying and services. A construction inventory management system ensures that tools and technicians are available on time and in the right place. When schedules are not managed properly, budgets for manpower and overall project budgets can be greatly affected. Mismanaged projects not only cut into the company’s profit and reputation but also negatively affecting workers and schedules.
2. Managing Smaller Items
Smaller consumable items like nuts, bolts, drill bits, etc can be tough to manage and track. While these items seem expendable in the long run, if not managed properly can lead to untracked losses. When on larger projects with multiple teams, it is essential to be aware of inventory shortages and item tracking and returns.
An efficient consumable management system should not only alert you when inventory is low but make it quick and easy to get more on the way and keep your project schedule on track. This will also make billing consumables per project easier.
3. Automated Scheduling of Preventative Maintenance
Inventory management systems are also essential in planning and scheduling preventative maintenance. Compliance in matters of preventative maintenance, calibration, and inspection must be strictly followed per industry standards. A preventative maintenance management and compliance system can ensure these tasks are completed on schedule and as dictated by safety authorities. By integrating preventative maintenance with inventory management, the company can automate the scheduling of tools and equipment and can reduce employee workloads, too.
4. Reduces Paperwork, Increases Accuracy and Remote Management
For larger construction companies, it’s always a challenging task to maintain the accuracy of data and records. As teams are adopting more technology and remote working tools, it would be impractical to keep stocks and inventory in paper formats. Immediate central updating of the inventory can be extremely useful when shuffling machinery and equipment between projects.
In cases of emergencies, knowledge of the immediate availability of materials at other sites can be useful to supplement any hiccups on a project. Reducing manual entry also increases accuracy and helps teams focus on meeting deadlines.
Tips and Tricks for Efficient Inventory Management
1. Understand Return Policies for Equipment and Stocks
Inventory management includes equipment and stock items (nuts and bolts to tiling and finishing), it is essential for inventory management team to document and be aware of return and exchange policies for all items coming for construction. Especially, when dealing with new or unfamiliar suppliers, make sure there is clarity and paperwork that lists the specific return policies as well as the costs, estimated delivery times, and current inventory stock they may have. While these things are easy to overlook, understanding return policies, extremely in emergencies, provide you with quick resolutions if and when a crisis arises.
2. Locations of Delivery Centers and Company Warehouses
When depending on suppliers for items and equipment, it is always good to have a handy list of the delivery centres. Don’t limit your list to the city of the project, ensure a few centres in nearby towns are listed in case the need arises. Being equipped with this information can reduce your delivery times and give the company a larger network that is beneficial in the long run.
Inventory teams must be well versed with company warehouses location – it is essential to check for item availability internally to save time and money and reduce stress in a tough situation.
3. Advantages of Last-Minute Delivery Services
When working with tight deadlines, don’t hesitate in approaching last-minute delivery services. These delivery services are best utilized to accommodate emergency repair or maintenance. Having a delivery company on call for tight spots is always a great tool in the inventory management arsenal. In a situation where the time is essential than cost, a last-minute delivery service can add to the company’s credibility and reputation.
4. Security and Storage
Pilferage and misplacement can be a major hassle when working in large teams. It is not uncommon to see teams get into skirmishes and fights over small items. It is prudent to have well-lit warehouses, so there is clarity on the equipment and items available. If working with large warehouses, consider installing surveillance systems and CCTV cameras, these will help you record activities around the warehouse, and also dissuade theft and pilferage.
Technology and Inventory Management
In the current business climate, more construction managers are relying on cloud-based construction management software for smarter inventory management.
Depending on the size of your business, there are countless applications that allow for efficient management of inventory. A well-organized inventory and equipment system allows you to know where everything is – whether in the warehouse or out in the field with a technician – in a matter of moments. Cloud-based management mitigates the risk of slow customer service and provides businesses with instant data that informs teams and technicians.
For items that are high value, don’t be afraid to invest in good locking systems and strong storage modules. It is important to care for your equipment and managing this well saves you a lot of money in the long run.
RFID and Mobile Scanners
With the help of RFID stickers, movement records for equipment from the warehouse and back can be automatically recorded, this can save a lot of paperwork and time for teams when managing multiple projects.
As mobile technology has advanced, it is now extremely easy and cost-efficient to have mobile scanners that record the details of items moving through the inventory. When choosing a mobile application for your organization, it is important to ensure that basic staff training is available to them, but it is also essential to ensure that application company is well established and will be able to provide support as and when required.
If you’re looking for a construction management software platform that will allow you to manage your inventory and materials make sure you have the following features:
1. Resource Tracking and Allocation
With the improved integration of technologies in various industries, data has become a vital aspect of tracking business and efficiency goals for any organisation. A project manager now has a range of tools available for smarter and more productive workflows.
New construction management platforms, for instance, have the ability to allow for the precise tracking and allocation of inventory, materials, and assets, all of which can be associated with a particular phase within a project’s timeline. Constant iteration and improving technology allows these new platforms to meet industry requirements and regulations faster, they also give teams a granular, real-time data necessary to make informed decisions.
2. ‘On-the-go’ Purchase Order Solutions
When you need additional materials, new equipment, or extra supplies, a cloud-based system can quickly raise your requirement. Analyse it in terms of the organisation’s approval systems and schedule delivery all in a single click. Cloud platforms connect with all aspects of your inventory management, including accounts payable, work orders, equipment, maintenance, documents, labor, time, and materials.
3. Simple Document Management
While document management may seem simple and trivial, as your business grows and projects become more complex, a fully-integrated document management system can be extremely useful. This means that all documents or images associated with particular aspects of a project are accessible wherever and whenever they are needed.
Documentation like purchase orders, contracts, submittals, work orders, RFIs, job site photos when available on the cloud can be helpful in taking a real-time decision and resolving any arbitration.
4. Overall Workflow Management
The biggest advantage of a cloud-based system is that it will integrate into your workflow, budget and time schedules. By included updated material costs, unexpected delays in deliveries and technician and worker schedules, you will get automated updates to your project budgets and timelines. A dedicated overall workflow management platform is perhaps the most effective step you can take to keep your project on time and budget.
5. Feature Checklist
When choosing an inventory management software, consider this simple checklist:
- Track, account, and location of every piece of inventory
- Inventory item and project phase association
- Generate purchase orders from anywhere
- Access and manage accounts, work orders, equipment, maintenance, documents, labor, time, and materials
- Upload and access all sorts of documents
- Workflow integration
- Make real-time data-driven management
When selecting the right management system, consider ones that integrate far more than just equipment. The ability to improve communication, streamline work processes and overall customer service should not be undermined.