Survey: industry sticks to tradition on logistics as headaches worsen

9 February 2016

A Construction Manager survey on site logistics carried out in association with TomTom Telematics has found that a high proportion of site managers still rely on paper and pens – or possibly whiteboards and markers – to keep track of deliveries arriving to sites.

But the survey also found that more than half the respondents agreed that problems with site logistics “regularly” affect the success of construction projects they’re involved in.   

The research, supported by the navigation, mapping and fleet management software provider, found that 37% of respondents still used a paper-based system, and 22% employed whiteboards.

Meanwhile, 24% relied on a spreadsheet, and only 13% made use of dedicated logistics software. The figures for those employing project management software or BIM were even lower, at 3% and 1% respectively.

Do you use any of the following technologies to manage your logistics operations? (Select all that apply)

Source: Construction Manager/TomTom Telematics

And it seems the industry is reluctant to change and embrace digital logistics management: 78% said they had no plans to invest in a more sophisticated system.

This attachment to traditional methods comes despite the fact that 42% of respondents reported that transport-related problems regularly had an impact on projects, and 53% said that a successful logistics strategy was “critically important” to the outcome of the project.

Jeremy Gould, vice president for sales, Europe, at TomTom Telematics, said: “Efficient logistics is absolutely vital to the success of construction projects – and the profitability of businesses – a fact that is highlighted by the findings of this research.

“Given this, it is perhaps surprising to find so many firms still rely on paper or a whiteboard to log crucial details for daily deliveries, as both processes are open to error and can cause the failure of links in the supply chain.

“The move to technologically-driven, automated processes appears a logical next step for the industry, as it will help to forge improved lines of communication between field and back office, ensuring all staff have access to the necessary information exactly when they need it.

How are daily deliveries to site currently managed and recorded?

Source: Construction Manager/TomTom Telematics

“Not only do these systems help to provide solid proof for adherence to Service Level Agreements and KPIs but they also improve levels of customer service by ensuring client expectations can be managed at all times.”

The survey responses also suggested that the use of analogue systems may be directly responsible for some of the problems reported: 41% of those who answered reported that they sometimes lacked accurate information about schedules and progress; 66% said vehicles did not arrive when required; and 40% said they did turn up when they weren’t needed. Some 39% said communication sometimes broke down between sites the drivers.

Difficulties with the way deliveries are administered are exacerbated by a lack of planning during the design and pre-construction phases. A total of 66% of those who replied said that the logistics of site deliveries were not sufficiently well considered before work started on site.

What impact have logistical problems had on your operations? (Select all that apply)

Source: Construction Manager/TomTom Telematics

The survey found that the effect of problems such as congestion, road closures and vehicle breakdown had multiple consequences on the success of schemes. The most common, at 78%, was delays to the completion date. Some 41% also reported reduced profitability, 36% said their company had suffered reputational damage as a result of logistical issues and 21% said they had led to financial penalties for overstepping deadlines.

It also found that problem of logistics has grown more troublesome over time. Some 33% of respondents said the time spent on transporting material had increased slightly in the past five years, and 37% said it had increased noticeably.

The main cause of this increase in logistical headaches is worsening road congestion, with 51% reporting that it had considerably more impact now than in 2011 and 31% reporting slightly more impact. This was followed by tougher planning restrictions on vehicle movement, tighter environmental controls and the Transport for London Safer Lorry Scheme.

The results of this survey bear out another conducted in May last year into the adoption of vehicle tracking systems. This revealed that 15% of companies used a tracking or telematics services on their onsite plant, and that only 9% had any plans to install one or other in the future.

The logistics survey was conducted online. Of the 245 people who responded, 71% worked as construction, project or site managers.

Thinking about project(s) you are working on, how important is a successful transport logistics strategy - such as including movement plans, delivery management systems - to the overall project outcomes?

Source: Construction Manager/TomTom Telematics

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