7 Signs that Your Construction Supply Chain is Wasteful

By looking out for these 7 warning signs for your construction waste management, you can reduce the amount of waste you generate

When you’re handling a project which relies on the contribution of multiple suppliers and subcontractors, waste is an-ever present problem. Save time and money on your construction waste management by keeping an eye out for these seven warning signs:
1. You’ve Got Excess Materials On Site – and They’re Heading to Landfill
400 million tonnes of materials are delivered to construction sites in the UK every year, according to the UK Green Building Council, which goes on to report that 60 million tonnes of these go straight to landfill due to poorly-planned materials management. If your site is home to materials destined for the landfill, you could be ordering the wrong materials, ordering too much of the right stuff, or not storing material properly.
You’ll pay twice for that waste. Once when you order it when it’s not required, and a second time when you pay for it to be disposed of or recycled.
A materials management plan lets you co-ordinate across your supply chain. Finding opportunities to use and reuse materials will significantly cut down waste.
2. You Spend All Day Managing Suppliers
How much of your day is spent chasing after various suppliers? If you’re spending all day trying to manage your supply chain, it could be too complicated. And that causes an issue.
The more complex your supply chain is, the more opportunity there is for expensive inefficiencies to make their impact felt. Not just by generating more waste, but by cutting into your time and your company’s profits.
Over half of the construction companies questioned by the University of the West of England claimed that they could increase their profitability by simplifying their supply chain and modernising their processes and practices.
3. It Feels Like Everyone is Working In Silos
How much access do people across your supply chain have to information and data? If everyone is working in silos, you might have identified a key sign that your supply chain is wasteful.
When data is shared instead of siloed, elements of your supply chain will find it easier to collaborate and to implement your waste management plans.
What’s more, by sharing data, you’ll have the information needed to plan more efficiently – leading to less waste and less lost revenue.
4. Not Everyone is Invested In Waste Minimisation
It’s possible that you have a waste management plan in place, but you’ve noticed that not everyone on your site is sticking to the script.
Having a plan is just the start. If your company is focused on waste management and your trades and subcontractors aren’t, you’re still going to be dealing with too much waste. Everyone involved in your project needs to buy into waste reduction for you to see real results.
That means getting everyone on board. From senior managers to the contractor who spends six hours on site, everyone needs to know that waste reduction and efficiency are crucial for your project.
Start taking your waste reduction culture seriously. If you make waste and efficiency targets a key part of your tender proposals, your subcontractors will need to take your waste management plans seriously.
5. Your Storage Spaces Are Overflowing
We’ve already mentioned that excess materials on site can be a warning sign – but what about materials that you need to use but can’t, because they’ve been improperly stored?
14 million tonnes of landfill waste in the UK are generated by failing to make use of materials ordered and paid for. A large part of this is that materials are ruined due to the lack of storage space.
By getting your storage right, you’ll have less material degenerating on the fringes of your projects.
6. You’re The Only Person Suggesting New Ideas
Do you find that you’re the only person suggesting ideas for eliminating waste? That you’re dictating a policy instead of discussing it?
A top-down approach that tries to impose your culture on your partners isn’t going to eliminate waste. And a poor decision at the top of the chain can ripple down to create inefficiencies further down the line.
If you discuss your design, your supply chain and your processes with the people involved at every step, you’ll hear better ideas and new ways of increasing efficiency to eliminate waste.
7. You Don’t Know If Your Plans are Working
The final warning sign to look out for can be spotted by asking yourself one question. Do you know how effective your waste management plans have been?
Even if you plan, keep things simple and make waste reduction key to your supply chain management, don’t forget to keep a close eye on how it’s all performing.
By setting targets and monitoring performance across all your projects, you’ll eliminate this last opportunity for waste and inefficiency to creep in.
Apply your best practice everywhere, and pay attention to how everything is working. A joined-up approach to waste management has helped Unilever reduce waste across its supply chain and factories. Its 240 factories around the world now have zero non-hazardous-waste-to-landfill status, as reported by The Guardian. If a holistic approach can be applied to a multinational across different continents, it can be applied across your sites & and results will surely follow.
If you’re seeing the warning signs that your construction supply chain is too wasteful, it’s time to act. By embracing a holistic waste reduction culture that incorporates planning, communication and simplicity, you’ll reduce waste throughout each one of your projects.
Key takeaways:

Poor material handling in construction waste management can lead to you paying twice – once for material you don’t need, and once to dispose of it.
51% of businesses claim that a streamlined supply chain directly leads to increased profitability.
Poor decisions at the top of a chain can lead to ripple down inefficiencies. Improved communication can eliminate this.
You can’t impose efficiency on your contractors, but you can convince them to buy into a waste reduction culture.
It’s important to monitor the effectiveness of your plans, to ensure that your waste management targets are being hit.

Take Your Next Steps to Reducing Waste and Increasing the Profitability of Your Projects. Download: Waste Management in Lean Construction Projects & A Best Practice Checklist