Warehouse Operations Management for ‘Just-In-Case’ Building Materials

Building Materials

Materials prices have risen about 50% within the last year. This has led to even more competitive project bidding. The wins are going to contractors that can guarantee materials will be available when needed.

When the supply shortages became a crisis, some contractors resorted to hoarding, ghost orders, and pop-up warehouses. Warehouse operations are becoming as much a part of the construction industry as hammers and nails.

Ghost orders occur when contractors without projects request bids from several suppliers for materials. This can cause materials shortages for “real” construction projects. Brian Sudduth, president of Miller Construction Company, Florida, said suppliers are pushing back and “asking for project-specific information” to avoid ghost order pile-ups. Some suppliers in the roofing materials industry simply won’t quote a price until you actually place an order.

Lead times are basically a crapshoot. In February 2022, one building professional was surprised to discover bar joists delivery “has pushed into 2023.” What was weeks is now months. Lead-time estimates are:

  • Aluminum windows/curtain walls – 6-12 months
  • Metal decking – 8-10 months
  • Metal studs/cold-formed metal framing – 2-4 months
  • Precast concrete wall panels – 6-10 months
  • Roofing/roof insulation – 8-10 months
  • Steel bar joists – 8-10 months
  • Structural steel – 6-8 months

To compound the growing problems of finding materials and suppliers, contractors are having difficulty finding warehouse space. Many resort to building their own temporary storage on project jobsites.

Warehouse operations software provides a fulfillment strategy for construction companies and contractors. Ask your contractor management software provider if a warehouse platform can be integrated to save time and confusion through best-practice management:

  • Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure:
    • Accuracy
    • Cost per delivery/mileage
    • Damages
    • Delays
    • Deliveries
  •  Loop clients into project supply/materials order fulfillment, and storage/delivery turnaround time
  • Offer inventory/materials management
  • Set up processes for crowdsourced deliveries
    • Bar codes to identify items
    • Package/labeling into bins/parcels
    • Pick-up staging

Technology in construction business management isn’t a trend. It’s the fuel that empowers the future of construction. If you have questions about what our software deliverables can do for your business development, contact Construction Monitor.

Construction Data Will Strengthen Building Materials Industry

building materials industry

The first quarter of 2020 is seeing many industry ups and downs; that’s not unusual. Despite a very healthy economic trend nationally, there’s still an edge of uncertainty.

What has been somewhat anticipated for the construction industry is real: Standard & Poor reports U.S. housing starts are flat. Homeowner renovations are doing well but expected to slow between 1%-3%.

The building materials industry will see solid strength in some companies no matter what S&P predicts for 2020. Flying-By-The-Seat-Of-Our-Pants, Inc. will have to smarten-up quickly because when times are tough, the tough look to marketing and advertising for survival. This decade’s building materials sales are going to be driven by construction data.

Why We’re Seeing a Slowdown

Tariffs on Chinese imports continue to be the elephant in the room, and negotiators are considering rollbacks. But an increase in tariffs could definitely hit us where we live.

The cement industry is dealing with CO2 emission cuts, primarily in Europe but we know that what impacts the construction industry “over there” is a good predictor of what’s going to happen here. The good news for concrete materials is many states are increasing funding for aging roadway repairs.

Millennials are becoming more conservative about premium building materials (floors, interior design in baths/kitchens) and are opting for mid-range materials instead. 

John McManus in the January 6, 2020 issue of Builder magazine says building materials supplies are being influenced by “L” words:

  • Labor
  • Laws/regulations
  • Lending
  • Lots
  • Lumber/materials

How Applied Construction Data Builds Your Business

Before you begin tightening your belt and laying off employees, know that 2020-2021 will be a year for 1.5% growth in our industry. Any growth is good for business. That’s simply less growth than we’ve seen recently. 

You can use this slowdown to play catch-up or use this time to cultivate your marketing and sales strategy. Request:

  • Area-specific commercial, residential, solar construction leads
  • Detailed statistics
  • Geographic building permit data
  • Project reports
  • Real-time construction leads

…by calling 800-925-6085 or contact a data professional at Construction Monitor.

You have building materials, and we do too. Let us help you build your business this year and beyond.

Understanding the Dangers of Silica Dust

silica dustBecause silica dust is nearly ubiquitous on construction sites, it’s easy to underestimate the threat it poses. By practicing conscientious silica dust safety, though, you can greatly mitigate risks of exposure without slowing down your workflow.

A Common, Yet Invisible Threat

Silica, also called quartz, is found in many construction materials, including sand, many types of rock, brick, mortar, tile, grout, drywall and asphalt. Your workers create silica dust when they cut, grind or otherwise process any of these materials.

Silica dust particles are too small to see, yet it takes only a small amount to cause health problems. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations set acceptable exposure levels at just 0.1 mg/m3.

Breathing this dust can lead to a condition known as silicosis, in which scarring occurs in the lungs and breathing becomes difficult. The condition is disabling and can be fatal.

Symptoms usually appear only after long-term exposure, but once they start, the disease will inevitably progress. There’s currently no cure. Despite the known risks, thousands of new silicosis cases are diagnosed in the U.S. every year. Silica dust is also a known carcinogen, contributing to lung cancer.

Protection for Your Workers

Good silica dust safety practices can save your workers’ lives, and these practices are neither difficult nor expensive to implement. On every project, identify all materials and tasks that could lead to silica dust exposure and devise a plan to minimize this exposure.

Use equipment with built-in dust control features, such as vacuums or water sprays, to hold down dust. Provide respirators when necessary. Designate areas for resting, eating and drinking that are away from anywhere dust is produced. Encourage workers to practice good hygiene by changing into washable or disposable work wear, showering (or at least changing into clean clothes) before going home, and parking their cars away from dusty areas.

Another option is to reduce your reliance on materials containing silica, such as by switching to aluminum oxide or silicon carbide instead of sand for abrasive blasting.

To learn more about effective silica dust safety practices, contact Construction Monitor.

Sustainable Materials That May Make Their Way Into the Future Home Building Market

Current research in sustainable building materials is producing several notable advances in the type of material that may eventually become commonplace in the home building market. New approaches to construction materials could result in products that dramatically improve residential sustainability and energy efficiency.

construction materials Here are some of the sustainable building materials and practices that could find practical use in the future home building market.

  • The Stratus Project, from design research firm RVTR, creates an interior residential envelope that responds automatically to occupant needs and activities. The project is constructed of a number of sensors, lights, fans and light-transmitting cells. The system can monitor and respond to room conditions that are affected by the presence of people, such as CO2 content, temperature and illumination. The system responds by changing airflow, lighting and other conditions to achieve optimum comfort levels within the interior envelope environment.
  • HygroSkin, produced by a team of German architects, offers material with apertures that open and close automatically in response to the relative humidity of a room. The material is designed to maintain relative humidity within 30 to 90 percent through 1100 openings that respond to humidity conditions. HygroSkin can produce a self-adjusting building envelope that controls humidity and light and air transmission with one type of material that needs no electricity.
  • SolarLeaf is another material possibility used in creating building envelopes that can adapt to changes. This material applies micro-algae to a facade system that collects solar energy and provides shade at the same time. The living material can capture and use thermal energy from the sun even as it prevents sunshine from entering through windows. As the amount of solar energy hitting the material increases, the amount of algae growth rises, producing improved shading and capturing more solar energy.

With the most up-to-date reports and publications on building permits, housing starts and industry trends, Construction Monitor provides managers, contractors, owners and builders with the most recent news and data on developments in the construction industry, including the latest on sustainable building materials.

Image via Shutterstock.com

How Stone Is Making Its Way Into the U.S. Home Building Marketplace

Homeowners are choosing stone as an exterior accent and cladding material at an increased rate. Stone use in home building has risen 6 percent in the years between 2004 and 2002, according to Builder.

This data on stone use in was published in the most recent Builder Practices Survey, conducted by Home Innovation Research Labs. Continue reading How Stone Is Making Its Way Into the U.S. Home Building Marketplace

Cement Use Continues in Construction, With Few Signs of Slowing Down

Cement Use Continues in ConstructionBecause it’s the most widely-used building material in the world, keeping track of cement use in construction is a good way to get a snapshot of trends in building projects. From the foundations of new homes to the structure of skyscrapers, dams, bridges and tunnels, as the production and consumption of cement goes, so goes the general building climate at any given time. The good news is that cement use is increasing in a big way.   Continue reading Cement Use Continues in Construction, With Few Signs of Slowing Down

Why Are Costs on the Rise for Drywall, Plaster and Other Building Material?

installing drywallAs new home construction is predicted to grow by 14 percent into 2016, drywall and plaster costs are expected to follow suit and rise by 7.5 percent per year. The continued recovery of residential construction is apparent in industry metrics like building permit data. In fact, drywall and plaster costs aren’t the only building materials to see increases on the horizon in the three-year time frame. Plywood and particle board costs will rise by 4.8 percent and 5.3 percent respectively. Medium density fiberboard is also going up, with anticipated increases topping 5 percent. The increase in raw copper costs is expected to continue boosting prices for electrical wiring as well. Continue reading Why Are Costs on the Rise for Drywall, Plaster and Other Building Material?