A better way with construction logistics

As London rebounds from the pandemic, construction is poised to take off. But does more building inevitably mean more construction traffic? Matt Barker of CSB explores the route to better logistics.

By Matt Barker *

On a typical construction site, multiple vehicles from various suppliers turn up on site at different times, none of which particularly suits the site managers or contractors. Fortunately, there is a better way.

Construction Consolidation Centres (CCCs) bring order to the business of delivering materials to sites when they are needed, reducing traffic and pollution at the same time.

Construction Consolidation Centres

CCCs work like this: Large consignments from various suppliers providing materials for the same project arrive off-site at a distribution hub where they can be stored short-term. The contractors then call off smaller batches for delivery as and when required.

It means that a variety of materials from different suppliers are delivered to site in one load just as they are needed. It also allows the right kind of vehicle to be used for each journey to match the specific needs of each delivery and each site. Vehicles can also take away packaging, returns and waste materials.

Deliveries can be timed to avoid peak traffic periods or even made overnight, a tactic that was used well during construction for the London Olympics.

With an increasing number of new developments, especially high-rise residential ones, using offsite modular construction methods, CCCs ensure that the only components on site are those required for the current phase of construction.

The London Mayor’s Transport Strategy backs the methodology, stating that the sustainable future of London construction will rely on CCCs operating at strategic locations around the city to offer reliable just-in-time site deliveries.

London councils have been adopting the idea of Construction Logistics Plans (CLPs) to reduce the impact of construction freight, even making them mandatory as a condition of planning permission. CCCs are a key planned measure in such plans.

When it comes to planning for London’s future, there is a powerful case for locking in construction logistics across big citywide policy and local authority strategies, right down to individual planning and projects. The city also needs developers and main contractors to embrace the concept.

Whether for a massive regeneration project or a relatively modest fitout, I believe logistics should be given as much thought at the outset as design and other strategic considerations. What needs to happen to roll out these concepts more widely?

Pressure to adopt better logistics will come from the political world and from within the industry.

Firstly, political pressure: In unveiling his plans for the next generation of social housing for Londoners, the Mayor has made it clear that sustainability will be one of the key criteria that developers must meet to win a share of the 80,000-plus homes covered by the scheme.

The Mayor’s transport strategy, Healthy Streets and Healthy People, points out that streets make up 80% of London’s public spaces.

https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/the-mayors-transport-strategy

The 20-year plan includes Vision Zero which aims to eliminate all deaths and serious injuries on London’s transport system. It focuses on London’s streets because that is where most of those incidents occur. “All those with a role in designing, building, operating, managing and using our streets have a responsibility to reduce danger,” the report says.

When it comes to moderating road mileage, the plan promotes greater use of CLPs, including specifying the safest routes for HGVs to and from sites, something that is easier to implement and police with wider engagement of CCCs.

Another document with similar objectives is TfL’s Construction Logistics Planning Guidance which is intended to promote best practice in reducing the risk from construction vehicle movement.

http://content.tfl.gov.uk/construction-logistics-plan-guidance.pdf

* About the Author: Matt Barker is Managing Director of CSB Logistics, a leading logistics provider in construction, engineering and FM projects.

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