I write as the author of the DTI/Bovis Lend Lease report on the Mid City Place project in London, which was referred to in your article “Driving us crazy”, (2 September - see related articles).
Although it is pleasing to see that Mid City Place still being held up as a good example of construction logistics, this was completed four years ago, and it is sad to see how little the approach has penetrated the industry.
What made Mid City Place different was not logistics but task management. Logistics on its own is not the answer. It is more vital to understand what drives demand, and this is the need for specific items on a specific day in a specific part of the site. This can only come from a detailed scheduling and control of tasks on site.
By integrating the work of different trades and creating a reliable schedule, the demand for resources of all types can be established.
From this comes the efficiency that delivers productivity and cost reduction.
The industry is incredibly reticent to apply time and skill to this fairly simple prerequisite, but without it, supply chains will never be efficient. The signal on which everything depends is not provided. The result is that unnecessary and costly solutions such as consolidation centres become wasteful facts of life; in fact, they would not be needed if the need for products was clear and communicated.
In the four years since Mid City Place, I have held dozens of conversations on the issue and I personally have not seen real adoption of thought-through scheduling. Fragmentation is a big factor, but this issue is for the main contractor to address, as it concerns the way in which a supply chain works. Compared with other industries that have to plan through very chaotic product demand situations, construction should be easy to get right.
Huw Jones, managing director, Synchro
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