How to avoid door & wall protection material shortage and delays on your project

Coming from an install background ourselves, we know how gut-wrenching it is to get to the end of a project and run short on some material.

Unfortunately Door & Wall protection is a finishing trade. This means that it can’t be installed until after final paint and this is right at the pointy end of the project.

If you have got to the end of the project and ran short in materials, then you know how frustrating it feels. Not to mention how stressful it feels when liquidated damages or back charges are looming.

Aside from financial loss and the stress and frustration you feel, you are also at risk of reputational damage. No matter how seamlessly the project has gone up to this point, the once happy client can blow their lid over the last 1%. That source of repeat business can be lost forever, due to causes outside your control.

Every month we have builders and contractors approach us to match materials from alternative suppliers due to leadtime issues and material shortages. We don’t like doing it and nor do you. We have set ourselves to try and reduce the number of times this occurs, by outlining potential issues and how to avoid them. Although there is no silver bullet solution to this exactly, we have found the following tips very helpful in mitigating the risk of this occurring.

Wastage

This is the big one. Many subcontractors and builders forget that wastage is required.

Why is wastage required?

  • Wastage is required on any lineal metre items such as crashrails/wall guards, wall protection or handrails by default because they are generally supplied at 3660mm lengths for the installer to cut to length on site. You will always end up with offcuts from your rails that cannot be used. Simply allowing for 100% yield on a project is not realistic.

If your supplier is quoting solely from a Bill of Quantities that you have provided then, they will only quote the exact quantities that you have requested. Our recommendation is to get your supplier to do their own markup and take-off to make them responsible for allowing provision for sufficient wastage.

We recommend allowing for 10-15% wastage for any crashrail lengths or Rigid Vinyl Wall Protection and 20% wastage for any lengths of handrail. Handrail has a lower yield than other ‘linear’ items because it requires mounting brackets at 800-1000mm spacings typically, meaning that lengths shorter than this can rarely be used.

Although ‘each’ quantities such as corner guards and endcaps for crash rails shouldn’t vary from the drawings, it may be wise to allow a few extra of these if you think it is likely that they may be misplaced or damaged on site.

Your supplier

Ensuring that you have your bases covered with your supplier is critical. You need to be able to trust them to deliver on time and be there to assist with any issues you may face towards the end of the project.

Questions you should ask your supplier include…

  1. How much of the required material do you have in stock?
  2. If in stock, will this be used to service the project, or as a back-up supply if required?
  3. Where is the product manufactured?

Construction is known for it’s changes to scope and all stakeholders involved need to have a robust contingency plan if something doesn’t quite go as expected. Whether it be client variations, necessary D&C changes or installation mistakes, it is highly likely that more product will be required at some point. In most projects this doesn’t give the builder or subcontractors a blank cheque for pushing out the construction program by 12+ weeks while the supplier ships in extra product from overseas. Mostly they are needed immediately (if not sooner).

In construction, procurement delays for Door & Wall protection rarely are an issue for the main stage of the project. There is generally ample time to supply, even if the material is procured from overseas for the project. That is the purpose for asking question No.2 – “If in stock, will this be used to service the project, or as a back-up supply if required?” We believe that stock should be viewed as a back-up, not as a primary source of supply on a large project.

Ensure that wherever possible materials are manufactured locally or at least fabricated locally from stocked overseas material, to minimise offshore dependence.

Scope management & ambiguities (During construction)

During construction, check inventory levels of your materials periodically to ensure that any material shortages are picked up with sufficient time to avoid delays. This is particularly important where variation works have been mixed in with contract works. Consider using technology to advantage to record when materials

  • Create cutting list spreadsheets in advance, as soon as walls can be measured
  • Label cut materials with the required location (This makes it clear in advance how much material may be spare for last minute scope changes or conversely can identify any shortages well in advance)
  • Consider using technology to your advantage with software such as Bluebeam. It can be handy to connect scope plans with actual site conditions by uploading photos and recording details of scope changes, defects and incomplete areas.

Communication with your supplier

Communication is a critical part of all construction projects and this includes your supplier, even if they are not directly involved with the installation. It is important to let them know in advance if there is any hint that the scope appears to be changing.

As a supplier that holds vast amounts of stock across 80 different colours, we know how challenging it is to spin the crystal ball and predict what stock will be needed in the future. The best thing you can do is notify your supplier in advance, so they can potentially stock up in the scenario that the design change does eventuate.

I know this tip seems overly simple, but the need for communication can be easily forgotten in the heat of the moment.

This may just be the single best thing you do on your next project.

Expediting

As a last resort, if the material you require is not in stock or not fabricated locally, then you may need to air freight (or some other form of expediting) materials, to meet program. Regardless of whether this is a cost that you have to cop or is passed onto the client, you want to ensure that you know upfront what the cost of air freight is, so your supplier doesn’t take advantage of you and lump you with unreasonable costs (believe me, it does happen).

So, make sure you ask your supplier in the initial tender phase, what the cost of air freighting would be and how regularly they use air freighting. Regular shipments will result in more economical freight costs, if this option is required.

It is important to note that a lot of these issues may be mitigated by letting the door & wall protection as a full supply & installation package, rather than procuring directly. Although Acculine services hundreds of subcontractors and builders each year on a supply only basis, they also have in-house Project Management and Installation teams, servicing most areas across Australia.

Read ‘this article’ to see if Supply Only or Supply & Installation is right for you

Or

Contact the team at Acculine if we haven’t sufficiently answered your question on how best to avoid material delays on your project.

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