Smart Steps to Navigate the Supply Crunch
Written By James Simpson

The construction industry has felt the impact of the ongoing pandemic-related problems fulfilling orders for materials, with some analysts saying the situation is the worst it’s been in 30 years. From a shortage of raw materials to fewer truck drivers to deliver supplies, disruptions in the building supply chain cause problems for the general contractor down to the tradesmen on the job.

“It’s a snowball effect,” notes Pardis Pishdad-Bozorgi, associate professor in the School of Building Construction at Georgia Tech. “Like any other industry, we are facing supply chain challenges related to production of materials and receiving them on time for projects due to the pandemic.”

The effects of poor materials management on a building project cascades on a job site: the project schedule gets delayed, costs increase, and people lose work when key supplies and construction materials do not arrive as scheduled at the job site.

Here are three steps you can take to help mitigate supply chain issues:

  1. Know Your Suppliers’ Capabilities: Frequent, frank discussions with your key suppliers about their ability to obtain materials, parts and labor can alert you to potential problems in the future. Keep up with their schedules and note possible delays as soon as a flag appears. Check—and double-check—with them on their timetables and capacity. Do they have the materials on-hand to complete a job, or will they have to wait for material to come in? How long is the backlog, if any, on specific equipment or material? Where are those materials being sourced from? Accurate answers to these questions can help you and your vendors identify potential points of delay, allowing you to adjust as needed.
  2. Plan Early, Update Often: Producing a bill of materials early in production allows all members of the project team—from general contractors to procurement agents—to identify and source needed materials as soon as possible. By identifying the materials, equipment and parts, potential issues with fulfilling those orders can be identified, allowing orders to be changed, updated or re-routed to fit project needs. Plus, by creating a materials list early, you’re giving purchasing agents a wider window during which they can price-shop for the most economical option.
  3. Be Flexible and Adaptable: Early notification of delays and problems allows procurement agents to find alternative avenues to find a new supplier for a specific part, or it could lead to a substitute element to be spec’d by the project manager or client. Supply chain issues may affect one supplier but not another, giving you the opportunity to obtain the item from another source. Sometimes, a suitable substitute may be found that can be used instead of the originally specified piece. While you may have to go to a different vendor or supplier, the goal is to get the project done on time and on budget. It may strain an existing vendor relationship, but your vendor should recognize its inability to fulfill the order as you specified.

The current global supply chain problems will likely persist for the foreseeable future. Implement steps into your workflow to mitigate damage and minimize their impact on your project’s costs and schedule.

Contact your eVolve Materials representative to see how we can help lessen today’s supply chain issues for you, your company, and your clients.

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