The use of delivery management systems (DMS) for construction logistics in London has grown considerably in recent years, and are now viewed as essential tools to address an increasingly complex and regulated construction environment. The emergence of DMS, therefore, is closely linked with this evolving compliance landscape. Research by Transport for London provided valuable insights into DMS for construction logistics.
The majority of DMS provide the same core booking functionality, with some variance around the ability to provide access via handheld devices.
- Homepage: site details, driver guides, gate access, road restrictions
- User accounts: the ability to add new users (internal and subcontractors)
- Booking a delivery: subcontractors select a date and time for delivery
- Approve a delivery: Logistics Manager approves or rejects a booking
- Schedule: the ability to view and share daily bookings with site team
- Reporting: the ability to capture and generate a range of reports
While some DMS providers do provide marshals with handheld devices on especially busy sites, there is a reluctance to invest in them where there is a lower intensity of bookings overall.
In these cases, marshals are typically provided with printed paper sheets of bookings every morning. However, handheld devices do allow for a more efficient data-entry process and monitoring overall.
Because heavy goods vehicles are checked as they enter the construction site, there is potential for DMS to play a key role in raising levels of compliance in the construction sector. However, difficulties sometimes emerge where ‘first tier’ subcontractors make a booking request through the DMS, but have subsequently passed this work on to another subcontractor or haulier. A minority of sites feel obliged to accept some of these vehicles, even where they do not match with the booking as made in the DMS.
The ability for DMS to generate reports is a key requirement, according to the London study. Reports on various aspects of construction logistics activity are used by both the construction sector and local authorities, particularly heavy goods vehicles emissions and operator performance.
The construction sector is interested in performance metrics relating to their own, and their Subcontractors’ performance, whereas local authorities are focused on accessing data relating to regulation and compliance.
As the construction logistics sector becomes increasingly developed, new areas for technological innovation are starting to be identified, with the potential goal of integrating the entire supply chain. In particular, there is interest in connecting DMS with construction consolidation centers, real-time routing applications and Building Information Modelling (BIM).
There is also interest in connecting DMS together, where clusters of construction sites are closely situated, to integrate delivery logistics across the area.