Enhancing Productivity Through Supplier Collaboration

Two of the biggest challenges facing companies in the construction industry today are the shortage of skilled labor and timely access to materials. These challenges are not independent of each other, nor are they unique to the industry. Complex economic factors are driving these issues, leading to some of the longest material lead times since the 1980s. These resource constraints, if not managed effectively, can greatly impact the overall productivity of a project and the likelihood of project success. Through effective coordination and collaboration with our supply partners, we can help mitigate these risks and continue to maximize the value we offer to our customers and end users.

Establishing expectations with suppliers and collaborating to determine which value-added service offerings can drive the most productivity have been a crucial part of our overall supply chain management strategy at Faith Technologies. Clear communication, and the development of “playbooks,” which can operate as a baseline approach to onsite logistics management, decrease the level of ambiguity between supplier and customer, as well as having the added benefit of shortening the overall planning cycle. Roles and responsibilities are clearly understood, and we move toward a more unified approach to project execution.

Small improvements such as how materials are labeled, packed and shipped can significantly impact the level of productivity onsite by reducing or eliminating the secondary and waste time often associated with material handling tasks. By “kitting” materials into material cages or clamshells, materials can go straight from the loading dock to the point of installation, removing the need for materials to be sorted in the laydown area. Additional value-added services such as wire management, the use of SmartReels or wire carts can improve safety, shorten installation time and reduce the amount of excess wire used on site.

What does it take for these strategies to be successful? A strong relationship with your supply partners in which there is open communication and trust are key. While the strategies described above are extremely effective, they do not happen without dedicated planning, prior coordination and ongoing communication. Through fostering these relationships, we can reduce the impact of long lead times by bringing suppliers closer to our business and leveraging their skill and expertise in managing distribution channels. Additionally, we can utilize the value-added services noted to help combat the existing labor shortage by removing hours from the jobsite and improving the overall productivity of our workforce. These strategies allow us to do more with less, drive value to our customers and maintain an uncompromised focus on safety.