Learning from, or repeating, past mistakes in urban construction logistics?

The construction industry is reluctant to utilize construction logistics centers (CLC). Mats Janne and Anna Fredriksson’s study focused on understanding the drivers and challenges of CLC utilization. There is a difference between drivers and challenges for implementing and utilizing CLCs, often implemented to reduce third-party disturbances.

CLCs can reduce environmental impact and third-party disturbances. However, to make this come true, acceptance among the users is needed. The study explains drivers and barriers for CLC implementation and utilization that can increase acceptance among users (i.e., construction projects). The drivers to utilize a CLC, however, stem from achieving efficient logistics. The authors identify two utilization strategies; the CLC is used either for just-in-time (JIT) deliveries or as a consolidation point.

This study contributes to research by strengthening the positioning of construction logistics as part of the city logistics realm. The study shows that, to some extent, construction logistics is repeating the mistakes of its big brother, city logistics. It has common utilization challenges and follows the same way of designing CLC setups based on implementation drivers. To a large extent, the sentiment in both literature and practice has been that if there is a drive to implement a design, the same drive applies to end-users utilizing it.

This study contributes to the research by showing a difference between implementation and utilization drivers and challenges. One must distinguish between implementation and utilization drivers and challenges because the implementation often reduces disturbances to third parties. In contrast, the drive for utilizing a setup stems from a need to increase efficiency on-site and reduce unnecessary logistics activities.

At a managerial level, this study has shown that construction projects can apply two possible strategies for utilizing a CLC. They either use the CLC as a consolidation point to allow different suppliers’ materials flows to be delivered as consolidated deliveries to the construction site or use the CLC as an external storage point to facilitate JIT deliveries.

The former alternative is in line with the overall goal of the CLC, e.g., to consolidate deliveries. In contrast, the latter allows the construction projects to adjust their materials deliveries to the ever-changing production pace of the project. It is essential to note that when starting a construction project in an urban development area with a construction logistics setup, part of the planning for that construction project must be to develop a strategy for working with that construction logistics setup.

Source: The International Journal of Logistics Management

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