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How to Build the Perfect Construction Logistics Plan

Tom Jodeit
Published Jan 22, 2024

So you’ve done the research and constructed an air-tight management plan for your next construction project. Now it’s time to put pencil to paper and start fleshing out the details. How will you move and deploy your workforce, equipment, and materials to get the job done? Taking the time to think through your construction logistics plan will help you answer questions like these. 

Where construction management plans deal with the larger picture, logistics plans zoom into the finer points of a project, ultimately allowing you to stay on schedule and avoid bottlenecks. Below, we’ll tackle the basics of crafting construction logistics planning and how it can benefit your business. 

Key Takeaways

  • You know what you need to do to complete a job, but how will you do it? A construction logistics plan helps you nail down the details here.
  • While your logistics plan doesn’t need to be formalized, it should seek to cover all aspects of a job, from materials delivery and jobsite safety to everything in between.
  • When outlining your logistics plan, the project schedule and budget are your best friends.

What Should Your Construction Logistics Plan Include?

In construction logistics planning, the goal is to take the ‘what’ behind a job and synthesize it into the ‘how’. For example, how are the trades going to move materials, and how will the work be done? It’s about taking all of the small things that won’t necessarily make it into the master schedule and making sure they’re accounted for in a way that doesn’t require a full-time site manager, logistics manager or supply chain manager and doesn’t depend on dedicated procurement or inventory management software.

Here’s an example: You’re about to work a job in the city that includes the replacement of a rooftop HVAC unit. The job will likely require a lane closure on a major road. You’ll not only need to choose a lane to close, but figure out how long it will be closed and plan a new traffic pattern. Once you have the lane closure nailed down, you need to make sure the HVAC contractor has the access they need to get the rooftop unit delivered.

You’ve helped to coordinate access routes to the site to avoid low clearances and you’ve coordinated the delivery window with the trucking company. Of course you’ve verified that the location of the crane will allow both the pick up from the truck and the placement on the roof. All of this had to happen just to put a large heavy box on a roof, but as you can tell there are a lot of considerations in construction that go well beyond the construction documents are broader than just supply chain management. Getting a bit more granular in your planning stage is crucial to keeping all of the moving parts of your project on track during the construction phase.

If you’re worried about more paperwork, the good news is that construction site logistics plans don’t often need to be formalized beyond an email or a couple paragraph addition on a contract. The essential part is that you’ve thought through the details. Depending on the specifics outlined in your plan, you may also need to get additional feedback from stakeholders, but it’s not always a requirement.

Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of what a typical construction logistics plan includes:

  • Crane and heavy equipment schedule
  • Hoist schedule
  • Access routes and traffic flow
  • Materials deliveries and laydown
  • Materials storage
  • On-site parking and transportation
  • Safety and security
  • Jobsite cleanliness
  • Phases for Relocation/Reconfiguration
  • Temporary office
  • Environmental requirements

How to Build the Perfect Construction Logistics Plan

When building out your construction logistics plan, the project schedule is your best friend. This is your go-to document for visualizing what’s going on, when it’s happening, and what people will need then. By proactively looking ahead, you’ll have a better idea of when certain tasks – like securing city permits – need to be completed to avoid delays.

Speaking of being proactive, it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with your jurisdiction, whether that’s city or county, along with any permits you need. Additionally, know your specific area’s building codes. Any construction site is potentially disruptive, especially in larger towns or cities. Knowing these requirements ahead of time is just one part of being a good ‘neighbor’ to civilians, and a good partner to your stakeholders.

Common Logistics Issues

Knowledge sharing – One common Issue in logistics planning is simply getting the word out. You might have done the homework to design the perfect fence and gate layout with a delivery schedule to match, but if the vendors and subs don’t know about it, then it’s not worth much.

Adaptability – Since your construction logistics plan is specific to each unique project, it might require thinking outside the box. For example, the logistics plan for 1 World Trade Center included a Subway sandwich shop at the top of the tower to make for more efficient lunch breaks for employees. Any logistics plan you make should be flexible enough to adapt to the project’s unique location and change as construction progresses.

One-sided plans – Any good logistics plan will be put together by sourcing feedback from the stakeholders on the team. The client might have specific wants or needs, and the trade contractors might have specific needs depending on the nature of the work. Be sure to consult with your whole team and offer the plan up for comment to ensure it will work well for everyone.

One last piece of advice here: make sure all of the costs involved with logistics are accounted for. For example, the building or neighborhood might have specific requirements for when and how you can build or it might take longer than anticipated to secure a specific permit which might have cascading impacts on other general conditions costs. These are the kind of smaller costs that can get overlooked if you’re not careful. When in doubt, always double check your budget and schedule.

A good plan isn’t worth anything if you don’t know how you’ll put it into practice. When made intentionally, a construction logistics plan can not only give you more control over your schedule and costs, but will also offer boosts in safety and quality control to help you deliver the best results for your clients.

Read our full guide to construction project management.

Tom Jodeit

Tom is a seasoned innovator dedicated to leveling up the construction industry. With a robust background in project management at Turner and Skanska, and experience in owner’s representation, he now focuses on developing software tools to address the industry’s most pressing challenges.

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