Last Planner System

Why your project needs a Material Delivery Board

A material delivery board is such a simple thing to implement, but the benefits of knowing the details of your construction material deliveries is priceless. In this blog, Lean expert Keyan Zandy explains some of the key elements that should be used on a good construction material delivery board.


Why use a Material Delivery Board?

It was early on a Friday evening when a flatbed 18-wheeler, loaded up with pallets of brick, pulled up to my jobsite gates. This was early in my career, and I was tasked with locking up the jobsite for the weekend. I was surprised to see a delivery this late on a Friday since the mason had rolled out an hour earlier and I knew no one would be there to receive and unload this large delivery of masonry. Agitated, I spent the next few hours slowly operating equipment to unload the pallets, knowing I’d be back Saturday to help the mason move it again to where it actually belonged (it was a big project, multiple buildings with different phases, and brick needed to be staged in several locations).

Feeling very victimized, I called my superintendent to complain—about my Friday evening, and my Saturday morning, and all of the brick I had to move (twice!). The phone was silent. Then, finally, this: “Sorry bud, get used to it! This is just how our business is. This happens on every project.”

I’ve never been very good at taking “This is just the way things are” for an answer. I was early in my Lean journey then and had recently read about “just-in-time deliveries.” So, I decided to make my very first materials delivery board (which was nothing more than a whiteboard with a title and the days of the week written on it) and told the trades: if you have a big truck delivery, it’s gotta be on this board or we’re not going to accept it. When we sent our first delivery of structural steel away, the field knew we were serious. It’s not that we were trying to be hard asses; it was because we began to notice how much waste we were experiencing onsite by not monitoring what was coming onsite and when. It really helped ensure that we were not taking on too much material at one time. I noticed the improvement almost immediately and was excited to take this success to my next project on an occupied healthcare campus where monitoring deliveries would be even more important than on a greenfield site.

Key Elements

Everything was working perfectly—until the day I got an angry call from the president of the hospital. There was a flatbed truck full of sheetrock blocking the entrance to his ER, and an ambulance was trying to get through. You can imagine how frantic I was as I ran down there. We got the truck moved, and then I got with the drywall foreman and asked him, what the #$@&! And his response was, “Hey man, it was on the delivery board!” It was at that moment that I realized that the board had a lot of room for improvement. We were only tracking what was being delivered and what day it was being delivered. Going back to the board, we added these additional columns and rows to answer the following questions:

  • what was being delivered
  • what company was making the delivery
  • what kind of truck was expected
  • when it was scheduled (day and time)
  • who the delivery was for (which trade)
  • how and where it was going to be unloaded

Making these improvements was truly a game-changer. Our trade partners were doing a great job of making sure that they weren’t bringing materials onsite until they were needed and we eliminated a lot of the eight wastes that occur specifically around materials, such as moving things twice or having too much inventory. This board is now a standard for all our projects.

If you’re not already using a material delivery board on your project, I’d encourage you to start. Ask these questions to get your trade partners to think through their deliveries, and you’ll quickly notice the improvement just one new Lean tool can make.

By: Keyan Zandy, COO
Skiles Group

For more from Keyan, see The Lean Builder – A Builder’s Guide to Applying Lean Tools in the Field or Connect with Keyan on LinkedIn.

Keyan Zandy, Skiles Group Keyan Zandy is a longtime Lean practitioner, enthusiast, and advocate. As Skiles Group’s COO, he has a dual focus on client service and on nurturing a progressive company culture. He is ultimately responsible for the oversight of the firm’s daily operations and ensuring that their Lean processes are continuously improved and consistently practiced. He is the co-author of The Lean Builder: A Builder’s Guide to Applying Lean Tools in the Field, which simplifies and clearly articulates the benefits of seven primary Lean concepts, and delivers them in a highly-relatable, immediately-applicable, and field-friendly manner. Keyan also serves as CEO for Smart Safety, an award-winning crisis management communication and emergency response tool.

3 Comment(s)

  1. Buddy Brumley

    After 35 years worth of frustrations with unexpected or poorly planned deliveries, the delivery board is a great part of our lean program. Detailed information limits surprises and overstocking our jobsites. Its may seem hard to believe but refusing all or part of deliveries a few times changes the out of control culture of the job. Our jobs are safer and it allows the trade partners to access the work space better. It absolutely has helped the work flow of our jobs.

    January 7, 2020 at 8:27 am | Reply
  2. Perry Thompson, LED

    This is great story that speaks to so many issues when it comes to just delivering materials. We have been on some very cool lean projects over the last several years. The Akron Children’s Hospital was one of the projects we learned the most about lean construction. We had a similar delivery board, it scheduled all delivers, then after a while we were looking to improve, we tightened it up even further by creating a deliveries slash crane time schedule. Each trade knew their daily and weekly slots for site deliveries and picks.

    January 8, 2020 at 9:14 pm | Reply
  3. Spencer Easton

    This is a great explanation for adding this practice in our company, its great to see so many amazing thoughts shared and truly this is a lean practice because it is respect for people and being giving. Thank you this is amazing.

    May 29, 2020 at 9:47 pm | Reply

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