On Wednesday 24th May, the Digital By Default group were delighted to be joined by Karine Bartle from Wincanton to discuss how better logistics could benefit construction.
The world as we know it is becoming digitalised and therefore so is our industry. It is time we embrace new tools and techniques to improve construction. Logistics is a crucial element of project delivery that is often overlooked, despite the benefits it can bring to cost, time and outcomes. Without logistics, it would be impossible to keep construction running.
What is Logistics?
Logistics is ‘the coordination and delivery of planned resources to enable safe, efficient and effective construction activity’.
Within construction, logistics is usually outsourced through processes which are heavily fragmented. This is either horizontal fragmentation, in which a tier 1 is appointed to deliver a project and in turn outsources to tier 2, etc., or vertical fragmentation, which is broken down across build phases for each phase to develop its own plans. Though, sometimes a combination of both of these fragmented processes is used.
This fragmented approach can lead to poor logistics, which in turn can lead to:
- lost time
- poor visibility
- poor modal choice
- product loss/damage
- high carbon footprint
- no scale-related savings
As logistics aims to ‘get the right product to the right place at the right time with visibility’, we need to ensure we are able to get a view of a project from across the supply chain. This can’t be achieved if we are not in control of our supply chain and logistics networks.
How can construction learn from others?
The retail industry is a good example of good logistics and is, in essence, a very similar process to construction- moving materials to certain places at specific times.
What are retailers using that could translate to construction?
- ERP systems
- Visibility systems
- Inventory management systems
- Tracking/ traceability systems
While these tools may need tweaking in order to apply within construction, they could bring massive benefits if used well. However, for this to happen, we need to shift the responsibility for logistics away from subcontractors and into the wider project remit.
Wincanton’s vision for the future of logistics features a joined up approach to replace the current fragmentation across the supply chain.
They also envision the use of
- a defined logistics plan
- E2E supply chain visibility- tracking of inbound and reverse logistics
- Inventory management systems to see availability and location of materials
- specialist logistics teams
- logistics teams
- consolidation centres
Employing such tools and strategies will lead to benefits to the industry. For example;
- cost savings
- procurement savings
- time efficiencies
- improved quality
- better safety
- redeployment of resources
- greater sustainability
Hinkley Point C
Dan Tozer, Wincanton, joined the group to discuss Wincanton’s work as a warehousing and distribution partner on the Hinkley Point C project. On this project, a 10-year contract is in place to enable Wincanton to manage supply chain complexity, improve visibility and transparency and provide exceptional safety and security standards.
As part of this project, Wincanton have employed a digital solution to track materials from the supplier to Hinkley Point C (end to end tracking). The implementation of a robust digital solution has confirmed that they should be able to:
- reduce overruns and overspends
- provide supply chain control
- enable data led decision making
- help control costs
- better enable monitoring
- help support environmental targets
There’s data available that isn’t being used. We need to start requiring suppliers to share information e.g., what stage of the process are you in? When can we expect delivery? Many suppliers will be using delivery partners that have this information- we need to begin expecting that this is shared.
Tracking across the supply chain can be tricky and it’s best to take small steps to begin implementing it e.g. tracking vehicles from point A to point B. Ideally, we need to go as far back in the supply chain as possible to allow for greatest visibility. This requires all parties to be on board and applying tracking processes from the outset.
As logistics is often an afterthought, opportunities are missed to employ digital solutions. Wincanton’s vision identifies logistics as a key part of the initial planning phase and allows for decisions to be made upfront. This ensures everyone involved is on the same page.
Collaboration is key to unlocking a joined-up approach.
More from Wincanton:
For over 100 years, Wincanton has provided business critical services for many of the UK’s best-known companies through a wealth of experience and knowledge. This experience has allowed learnings and insights to create sustainable supply chains across a range of industries.
In case you missed the chance to attend the Digital By Default webinar, we wanted to share our insights that formed the basis of our discussion.
The 15-page insights paper questions traditional approaches to logistics in large-scale infrastructure projects. Taking learning from today’s top retailers, we explore how their approach can support the on-time and on-budget delivery of infrastructure projects.
Find out more about transforming logistics for infrastructure construction: