Construction Logistics: How To Ship Construction Supplies

Logistics plays an extremely important role in the modern construction industry. It directly influences the quality and timeliness of every construction project.

A well-organized supply chain is meant to supply the construction sites with all the necessary materials and equipment in the course of the construction operations. Learn more about construction logistics organizing in our detailed guide.

What is construction logistics? 

Construction logistics represents the part of the supply chain which is responsible for providing construction sites with correct materials, equipment, and other supplies. It is also intended to deliver all the units in the right quality, quantity, and time. The objective of construction logistics is to fulfill the materials demand of a construction project until it is finished. 

While construction logistics is sometimes deprioritized, there has been a growing tendency to review and improve the shipping process due to the increasing size and number of construction projects. The deployment of large-scale construction activities would be impossible without the tight coordination and strong time management required for effective supplies delivery.

Construction logistics challenges

Due to its large scale and complexity, construction logistics may appear quite challenging. It is extremely important to be prepared for the most common problems that arise while organizing your construction materials supply chain. Among them are:

Shipping delays. Often stakeholders are exclusively focused on construction sites processes which can harm logistics efficiency. Consequently, small mistakes or delays pile up, materials don’t arrive on time, and the entire project suffers and this results in serious delays and offsets the whole construction schedule. As a shipper, you have to be well-informed about the pace of production and any risks to receiving materials. If delivery is not planned correctly, you may sometimes experience pressure from the customer’s side.

Ineffective use of capacity. Poor planning and misuse of container capacity are the common obstacles to seamless construction shipping. It affects emission, congestion, general infrastructure, and traffic safety. Mismanaged load planning can also produce delays and bottlenecks in the supply chain.

Transportation costs. Construction logistics often include the transportation of oversized items such as equipment, machinery parts, steel pieces, or manufacturing units. Vehicles moving these loads will often require more carrying space and higher weight capacity, resulting in higher pricing. Additionally, many kinds of construction materials need secure packaging and storage to prevent possible damage. Thorough planning can help keep these costs under control.

Compliance. In case of transporting highly overweight or oversized construction materials, you may need to meet additional legal requirements. Documentation is often required for shipping particularly large items, though the specifics may vary based on pickup and dropoff location. Every state has its own unique set of requirements that you are expected to follow to avoid any penalties and fines. You can check the permit policies on the US Department of Transportation page

How to optimize constructional supply chain

If you are just planning a single shipment to a single construction site, you can navigate many of the potential problems mentioned above. However, if you are getting into construction delivery on a regular basis, some ways of improving the process might come in handy: 

  • Clarify responsibilities between the construction site and supply chain. It is crucial to understand the stakeholders’ roles when delivery is complete. The unloading duration will take much longer if the trucks cannot receive further instructions right after their arrival. Instead, they could be stuck on a construction site, interrupting it from its intended flow and causing delays. Also, clearly articulate any additional services in advance so that everyone knows what’s needed upon delivery. 
  • Stick to the order list. The construction process can be unpredictable; therefore it is sometimes difficult to forecast whether all the ordered materials will be used after delivery. The best decision is to stick to the order list, yet you can make a control call before departure to verify the quantity of the units. 
  • Organize a space onsite to unload the vehicles. Some construction sites don’t offer any designated areas to unload the delivered supplies, which can result in layovers and long delays. Dedicating a specific space to unloading is a great way to avoid potential delays upon shipment arrival.
  • Online delivery tracking. When booking a shipment online, you can consider using solutions that provide shipment tracking, like GoShip. They enable stakeholders to track the loads during the day and control whether the delivery will be completed on time.

Organization of construction logistics processes

The process of organizing construction logistics is diverse and complex. GoShip will help you understand all the necessary steps you need to take to successfully deliver or receive the construction supplies. 

Transportation options for construction logistics

Due to exceeded sizes, construction units are sometimes transported with flatbed trucks. Flatbeds represent open trailers without roofs or walls. It allows the shippers to load the construction supplies from either side, top, or back of the vehicle. Such dimensional flexibility lets you ship any type of large equipment or materials. The cargo weight limit for flatbeds is about 48,000 pounds. Typically, their length is 48 to 53 feet, while the maximum legal width and height of flatbed trucks in the US are 8.5 feet (102 inches). 

There are many types of flatbed trucks. Their design differs depending on the size and weight of your freight:

  • Standard flatbeds are not physically enclosed.
  • Step-deck trucks consist of the bottom and top decks.
  • Double drop trailers are designed for atypically long units; they can stretch to fit the actual length of your load.
  • Side kits have plywood panels to secure packed items.
  • Conestoga includes a special tarping system for external protection of the transported materials.
  • Lowboy trucks provide a lowered bed in front of the rear axles.
  • Removable gooseneck (RGN) trailers are especially suitable for shipping long and tall units.

Additional services to simplify construction logistics

Modern logistics management offers many additional services for making construction shipping easier. Several most efficient practices can potentially enhance the quality of shipping construction supplies.

Construction consolidation centers (CCC) are organized to decrease the number of trucks going to the construction site. If you seek to avoid traffic deadlocks or want to reduce emissions, construction consolidation centers are a good option to resolve these issues.

While using the CCC service, you will move the required supplies to the chosen CCC instead of delivering them directly. Then, the customer will order the exact number of materials from CCC and receive them much faster. This shipping sequence will save you more time and prevent you from moving extra units. 

Construction logistics plans (CLP) are a relatively new tool in the construction logistics market. They are supposed to provide detailed planning of your shipment including calculations of fuel consumption, waiting and unloading time as well as precise route mapping and following safety rules. Construction logistics plans can significantly optimize the work of those shippers who want to move big amounts of construction supplies.

How much does it cost to transport construction supplies?

Many factors affect the prices of construction shipping. Transportation cost depends on the size, weight, and volume of the materials you are going to move. After getting their accurate measurements, the next step is to choose the suitable truck and proper packaging method.

GoShip can help you get a quote and compare rates from a vast network of carriers in a few clicks. 

Specifics of transporting construction units 

For successful construction shipping, it is important to pay attention to a number of requirements. By doing so, you will be well prepared for the transportation process and avoid its possible risks. 

Measuring construction units

Measuring construction materials can appear complicated due to their diversity. When making up the list of items to ship, try to follow the measurement sequence of length, width, and height or thickness. You can use different tools to measure construction supplies. Among them are:

  • Short tape measures, pocket pods, wood rulers. These tools work best for measuring items up to 40 inches. They are small and handy to quickly collect information about construction supplies sizes. 
  • Diameter tape measures. These flexible tools give accurate measurements of round objects.
  • Long tapes. These tapes will help you to measure construction items of atypical length.

Construction packaging 

Proper packaging is extremely important in terms of construction logistics as it performs a whole range of functions. First of all, it is used for containment and protection purposes. The correct choice for storing your construction items will prevent them from unwanted movement during transit so that they are delivered with no signs of damage. 

Secondly, packaging enables the identification of the items by labeling them according to their types and measurements. Besides, a comfortable package seriously facilitates loading/unloading processes. It gets much easier to relocate a construction unit when it is prepared to be placed in a truck.

Types of the construction package

Since construction supplies are often oversized, sometimes they are not condensed into a single package but are instead protected by different kinds of coverage attached to the trailer (side kits, conestogas, etc.). However, there are several basic types of construction packaging:

  • Pallets: flat and box pallets provide strong fixation for the construction materials and don`t let them fall out in transit.
  • Crates: plastic crates and corrugated boxes are a good choice for fragile materials and protect them from any type of deformation.
  • Bags and sacks: bulk and paper bags, as well as polythene sacks, are mostly used for separating construction supplies and preventing them from contact. 

Internal packaging 

Taking into account the huge variety of construction materials, it is worth taking a look at internal packaging. For example, plastic film is one of the most wanted types of packaging as it keeps metal-consisting materials from corrosion. In some cases, you might also need to apply inner fillers to take up the extra space inside boxes. It is crucial to get airtight packaging if you are going to ship liquids or materials containing liquids.

Reusing construction packaging

Construction packages are typically characterized by their extended volumes, which can cause high levels of waste. You can take some of the following steps to mitigate the risk:

  1. Reuse the material your packaging is made of when you can. For instance, timber pallets can be reused many times before recycling.
  2. Bale the paper and plastic packaging to facilitate its recycling later.
  3. Consider using eco-friendly packaging options while shipping construction supplies.

Other requirements for shipping construction items

For moving construction units, different types of vehicles are used and can have a great impact on the traffic and environment. According to statistics, these vehicles double the general amount of CO2 emissions and cause approximately 70% of inner-city car accidents. As a result, numerous special regulations are in place for transporting construction supplies.

  • In many urban areas, transporting construction supplies is not allowed during the day. This is done for the sake of traffic simplification as well as reducing the risk of harmful congestions. Thus, transportation can be delayed and take place later in the evening. Do not forget to check the time restrictions for urban areas in advance.
  • Loading and unloading are usually prohibited on or near public highways, as they can trigger backups or accidents. 
  • Certain routes can be restricted from or limited in construction supplies transportation. If you are trying to map out the route, check if the directions you are going to take have traffic limitations. Usually, these regulations are created by Construction Logistics Plan committees to decrease pollution and road accidents. Besides, some routes are unusable for transporting construction materials – they are too narrow or do not provide areas designated for stops or emergency unloading. 

Before loading the construction materials and getting them in transit, make sure you have carefully reviewed all the requirements and are prepared for delivery. Strong construction logistics planning will save you time and money in the long run.

Construction Logistics Services

We can help with competitive rates, more efficient processes, and optimized operations. The best way to calculate construction logistics costs is to fill in shipment information and compare quotes. With GoShip.com, you can compare quotes from multiple carriers in real-time.