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10 COVID-19 logistics lessons for construction firms

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Stefano Braganti is executive vice president of New York City-based HAP Construction. Opinions are the author’s own. 

Perhaps no other major city in America felt the brunt of COVID-19 faster, or harder than New York City. That was true not only for our hospitals and healthcare workers, but for the men and women who were on the front lines of our construction sites, too. 

While no one can characterize the pandemic as a positive, there were valuable lesson that this crisis taught job crews and contractors about how to persevere in even the most daunting circumstances surrounding logistics and supply chain issues. These strategies will help ensure future projects remain on time and on budget.

Here are some of the ones we learned at HAP Construction during the pandemic while completing construction of the Maverick (shown above), a 312,500-square-foot condominium and rental development in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.

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Stefano Braganti

Courtesy of HAP Construction

 

  1. Before a project gets started, create a detailed electronic list of all materials that will need to be purchased including doors, fixtures, lighting, flooring, kitchen supplies and appliances, along with every finish. The list can be filtered by apartment unit, floor and room in order to give an exact location of where those items will be used.
  2. Order all needed materials as soon as the design is finalized, possibly months in advance, or for bigger projects even years before they are actually needed at the jobsite. Ordering and purchasing items at an earlier stage allows developers to lock in the price and avoid future increases due to supply shortages.
  3. Designate and train a logistics manager to oversee all vendor purchase orders, along with the receipt and logging of deliveries at an agreed-upon offsite storage location. In addition to enabling more oversight and control of materials on a project, this step allows construction managers to reduce expensive subcontractor surcharges.
  4. Recreate a building map using the available architectural drawings, outlining exactly which floor, apartment, and room each specific material should be delivered to and when.
  5. Upon delivery at the storage facility, the logistics manager should inventory each item to ensure the correct quantities were dropped off and everything is in good shape. The logistics manager will then update the master list to show the materials are stored and ready to be shipped to the site when needed.
  6. All items at the warehouse should be sorted and subdivided by floor, and then by apartment. After storing all materials for a specific apartment together, a second check must be performed to ensure everything is accounted for and undamaged.
  7. Label all boxes and materials with an individual QR code. That way, when pieces are picked up from the warehouse and delivered to the construction site, it is very simple for the team on the ground to know exactly where every piece of material or equipment needs to be sent to.
  8. When possible, all materials for each individual task should be delivered together, using an organized and planned out schedule. This results in a smaller number of trucks in circulation, reduced street congestion and the lowering of gas emissions.
  9. Schedule all deliveries to jobsites after regular hours if possible. This allows hoists to be reserved for workers to move easily between floors during the day, which drastically increases work productivity. Delivery after hours also allows crews to be more efficient and get in and out quicker.
  10. If the above steps are implemented properly, the project subcontractors will find the materials they need located in the correct areas of the jobsite at the beginning of every workday. 

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