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Welcome back to Episode 8 of the Perlo Podcast! Podcast host Elissa Looney, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Perlo Construction, is joined by Devin Koopman, Vice President of Construction, and Joe York, General Superintendent. In today’s podcast, we’re going to explore site logistics in construction, which are a critical piece of the planning and execution of construction sites.
What are Site Logistics
Site logistics can be thought of as the foundation that sets up an efficient and safe construction site while making the process easy and keeping the project on schedule. It involves factors such as:
- How crews move around the site
- Where materials are stored
- Where signage should be located
- How traffic and equipment can efficiently move in and out of the site
- How to keep crews and visitors safe
- Where to locate job trailers
Devin notes that schedule logistics are rarely shown in the drawings and often don’t get as much attention as they require. It is critical to be proactive and consider all items of a project when planning site logistics. Preconstruction efforts are the “recipe” for an effective project. When preconstruction takes place, we look at the current plan and drawings for the current site logistics and try to understand what the end result will be. Logistics range from job to job and are a huge factor in a successful project outcome.
When considering the current climate of supply chain issues and long lead times, it may be necessary to procure materials early. In this case, project teams must be able to purchase or lease extra land offsite to hold materials. Joe explains that our teams have had to get creative and think outside of the box to find additional storage area for materials.
Elissa adds that having space for materials shortage has become a much bigger factor in today’s day and age, as companies aren’t able to get “just-in-time” delivery if they want to guarantee that they will receive the materials on time.
“The fact is that there aren’t as many large lots for people to develop anymore,” remarks Joe. He elaborates that because of this, it can be difficult to find space to lay down materials, park trucks and trailers, and actually build the building. According to Joe, “if you can’t get a neighboring property to make your footprint larger for the build, you’ve got to get creative.” Planning ahead for these aspects of a project gives teams more opportunity to be innovative when utilizing space and being proactive when addressing potential issues.
How Do We Use Site Logistics to Create Efficiencies on Jobsites?
Devin uses an example about concrete to answer this question, noting that here at Perlo, “we like to pour concrete, and we like to pour a lot of it.” He goes on to explain that often times, our teams conduct concrete pours at 2AM to maximize efficiencies. Early morning pours are great, according to Joe, because there is no traffic and the concrete gets poured before the weather gets too hot in the summertime. When there are anywhere from 50-70 trucks expected to come and go from your project with concrete at a dark hour, site logistics become that much more important. Factors to be considered can range from how to get the trucks in and out to where the pump trucks need to be staged and even accommodating for residential neighborhood time restrictions. “Time is money, so you need to get them in and off your site as quickly as possible,” explains Devin.
One way to accomplish this is with directional signage, especially when dealing with third-party companies that may not be as familiar with the site as the project team. Elissa adds that a big part of site logistics includes the process during emergencies. It is crucial, and even lifesaving, to ensure that emergency vehicles have proper access to and from the site, with clear access routes and individuals available to wave them down.
Joe agrees, and remarks that orientation of a project always includes information on where crews should meet in the case of emergency, where emergency vehicles can access the site, and other important logistics.
How Do Jurisdictions Affect Site Logistics Plans?
Between jurisdictions ranging from federal, state, county, city, and even local neighborhood associations, site logistics plans can vary astronomically. One of the biggest variances is in regard to permitting. Certain jurisdictions may not inspect the same items that project teams are accustomed to in the Portland Metro Area. There is often a steep learning curve to understand what a specific jurisdiction requires and what works on a given site.
Joe gives an example of a project in Eureka, California, that restricted the altering of any land with a specific “weed of interest”. On a similar project in Sacramento, California, crews had to get trained up on how to deal with protected animals on the jobsite, such as lizards. And on another project, teams even dealt with planning around migrating turtles. These examples just go to show that there are factors that simply can’t be planned until you understand the geographical area that your jobsite is on, and enforces why project teams need to stay on their toes and keep an open mind and backup plan handy.
“What makes sense on day one might not make sense on day 60.”
Do Site Logistics Plans Change Throughout the Project?
According to Devin, site logistics can be like a football game. To have a successful site logistics plan, you need to “call audibles”. Calling an audible in football refers to when the play is changed at the line of scrimmage by yelling out a new play. “The fact that you may be digging a utility trench for the electrician on the same day as your concrete pour means you’ve really got to roll with the punches.” explains Devin.
Manpower Loading and Site Logistics
We quickly backtrack to site efficiencies, specifically related to trailer placement, crew parking, access to the building, and how all of those factors tie into crew efficiencies. Joe notes that it all ties back to working the job backward. When thinking about tenant improvements, the ability to find milestones in the schedule and make a plan of logistical attack can help avoid stacking trades on top of one another and creates ease of scheduling subcontractors.
Although site logistics may have gotten more complicated with COVID-19, Joe remarks, “I think it gave us insight on how we can do better.”
Site logistics in construction are critical to a successful construction project and an enjoyable experience. There is a fine balance between preplanning, being proactive, and adapting on the fly, and site logistics give you the best opportunity to do just that. A big thank you to Joe York and Devin Koopman for their insight on today’s topic! Make sure to subscribe to The Perlo Podcast wherever you get your podcasts.