Construction Inventory Management: 5 Tips for Successful Site Inventory Management
Anyone who has worked on a construction site knows that these environments are full of many moving parts. With countless tools, materials, pieces of equipment, and other supplies moving in and out of the site each day, it’s all too easy to lose track of inventory. Implementing an efficient and reliable construction inventory management system is crucial for the success of any construction project. The following five essential tips can help in streamlining processes, saving costs, and improving efficiency overall.
1. Centralize Storage
The first step toward efficient construction material inventory management is knowing where each item is located. Centralizing storage allows for more reliable control over inventory because it facilitates reliable organization systems and more efficient tracking.
Creating a dedicated conex or storage area on each construction site can help enhance overall productivity. Centralizing storage means less wasted time searching for the next tool and fewer items lost or misplaced. Within the storage area, teams can formulate an organization system that each team member agrees to follow, which should include categorizing and labeling items for easy placement and tracking within the construction material inventory management strategy.
2. Secure All Inventory
With supply chain shortages, price increases for various materials, and narrow profit margins on many construction jobs, avoiding inventory loss is paramount. When shrinkage occurs, construction teams must adapt to costly delays as they wait for the next shipment to come in, in addition to shouldering the negative financial impact of replacing misplaced supplies.
Misplaced items and inventory theft are best prevented by physical security solutions such as shipping containers (i.e. Conex boxes), cages, or lock boxes. The type of storage and security enclosure used should depend on the size and value of each item.
Implementing user access management practices within the construction inventory management plan can help further secure inventory. Instead of managing physical keys or passing around keycards, grant precise user access with inventory management software for the construction industry that will allow for various tiers of access. While all construction workers will likely need access to many of the materials, only managers need access to some high-cost tools and equipment. Access management software can help boost accountability by preventing unauthorized individuals from accessing supplies and by tracking data about who accesses which materials and when.
One access management platform is BoxLock, which is being used with the eTurns TrackStock replenishment app to manage onsite inventory for a major US distributor at a large telecommunication company that is constructing cell towers across the US. While eTurns provides the distributor with the ability to track inventory usage, BoxLock provides access control and accountability without the expense of an inventory vending solution.
3. Implement New Technology Solutions
Eliminate guessing games and resource-sucking processes that require frustrating games of hide-and-seek. Instead, implement technology solutions such as construction inventory management software to help track all materials and streamline ordering processes.
Construction inventory management software such as eTurns TrackStock enables project managers to:
- Access real-time data on stock levels
- Make informed decisions about procurement
- Avoid stock outs
- Minimize excess inventory, labor expenses, and carrying costs
- Streamline processes
With accurate visibility into supply levels and easy ordering processes, construction inventory management software can vastly improve overall project efficiency.
4. Use Scanning Technology to Track Consumption
Human error happens. When project managers at construction sites try to rely on pen-and-clipboard inventory management methods, mistakes are bound to occur. What’s more, even when perfectly executed, manual inventory tracking practices can eat through countless hours of work time each week.
Instead of relying on manual tracking, use scanning technology to track consumption. Barcode or RFID scanning systems allow users to quickly and accurately record material use. For example, project managers can use the TrackStock app to scan materials into the inventory system when they arrive at the construction site. Then, as materials are used on site, technicians can easily scan them in the app and the on-hand inventory levels will be updated in real-time. This way, project managers always have accurate and up-to-date inventory data, without dedicating critical hours to manual inventory counts.
5. Tune Min/Maxes to Automate Replenishment
The final step in creating a streamlined and successful construction material inventory management system is to determine the right quantity of materials to keep on-site. Keeping supply levels too low can result in stockouts and devastating delays. On the other hand, keeping a surplus of materials on site can spike carrying costs and affect profitability.
Using the analytics provided by inventory management software can help project managers set min/max levels based on real usage. Min/max levels are the minimum and maximum quantities of any given item that should be kept in stock. Once min/max levels are set, construction inventory management software triggers automated alerts when an item reaches the minimum threshold. Then, an order is automatically created that will replenish the supply back up to the maximum level.
Min/max levels should be dynamic and tuned on an ongoing basis based on the particular project, actual usage, and lead times. TrackStock helps users keep optimized min/maxes settings with its Min/Max Tuning Dashboard.
With the right tools, it’s possible to transform inventory management processes from a pain point to a strength. By centralizing storage, securing inventory, implementing technology solutions, using scanning technology, and tuning min-max levels, construction teams can significantly reduce costs and increase productivity. Get in touch to learn how eTurns can help add efficiency to your construction projects.