The two giants, which organise the ordering, scheduling and delivery of materials, are already approaching contractors to offer their services.
Logistics professionals claim contractors could shave up to 15% off their materials and labour costs by introducing "just-in-time" deliveries to sites. This would reduce damage to materials, save on storage costs and make skilled workers more productive by reducing downtime.
Andrew Gough, strategy and marketing director at UPS Logistics Group, said of the move: "We see a distinct opportunity to widen our services, which are applicable to the construction industry."
UPS, which provides logistics services to industries including shipbuilding and car manufacturing, is targeting the fit-out of large-scale projects. Gough said: "We see our positioning in the fit-out stage. The more complex the process, the more value we could bring.
Our positioning is in fit-out. A shopping centre – we could bring value there
Andrew Gough, UPS Logistics
A shopping centre, for example – we could bring value there."
Exel, the world's largest logistics firm, which counts J Sainsbury and Jaguar among its clients, also plans to move into construction. Mike Holley, programme manager at Exel division FX Coughlin, said: "It's a sector we are targeting. We're already talking to several major contractors."
Holley said the move would put Exel into direct competition with construction and project managers. "They view what we do as something they should be doing. They're asking why they should outsource to Exel something they regard as part of their core role."
Rick Ballard, director of consultant the Logistics Business, said there had been a recent explosion of interest in logistics from construction firms. "We're starting to get more and more enquiries from construction firms. There's a growing recognition that logistics has a part to play."