How to deliver construction projects in tight urban environments

Transport and logistics can’t just be squeezed in to a complex construction plan – it requires expert planning.

Inner city construction sites are feeling the squeeze – literally. As cities become more built up and densely populated, construction sites in these locations are working in tighter and tighter spaces, creating potential headaches for logistics and transport.

Logistical specialists and expert planners are vital; particularly where large materials like structural steelwork are to be transported to a site.

Good logistics planning, with attention to detail, allows for on-site teams to continue working to schedule, reduces risk of added costs and ensures neighbours do not experience unnecessary disruption. Logistical specialists will know to take into account schedules, materials, lead times and supply chain constraints as well as on-site plant management, storage and materials handling and the inbound transport management.

Comprehensive planning is critical, taking into consideration all of the above factors. It should, in particular, focus on space, scheduling and collaboration between all contractors and neighbouring communities.

Space constraints include limited space on roads, junctions and at entrances or exits from sites and will have to be measured based on both size and volume of vehicles visiting site.

Scheduling will need to consider not only when materials are needed on site but what else is likely to be on the approaching and surrounding roads at certain times. With construction logistics making up around one third of freight traffic in cities, contributing to congestion, getting the operation right is essential.

Local factors and regulations must also be identified and worked around. For example, local public buildings, such as schools or places of worship, times of use should be taken into consideration. Any considerate constructor will be alive to activities and attitudes in the community surrounding the development and work sympathetically to these.

While each of these creates challenges, none are insurmountable. By bringing in experienced and qualified expert planners, transporting large loads to sites can be safely, efficiently and effectively done. There are both solutions and opportunities available.

Careful and comprehensive information management is the first step – ensuring all available information, on locations, timings and load sizes, is shared as early on in the process as possible. This will set out a timeline of project stages, materials and labour needed and accompanying transport and logistics necessary.

Then, to ensure a ‘right first time’ process, a recce is essential.

Working with logistical specialists Collett, one of our trusted transport partners, we are already putting plans in place for transport to a central London site that doesn’t begin until later this year [2021]. The task of transporting a 16.5m long artic trailer requires multiple test runs to consider all available routes and determine the most appropriate approach. Carefully managed and monitored ‘dry runs’ are being undertaken to ensure trailers can not only get steelwork safely in, but then efficiently exit the site for work to begin.

And if a lack of width and length on-site isn’t enough to contend with, high-rise buildings or plots with basement spaces mean height and depth must also be considered in planning.

Working in Nottingham we managed the erection of steelwork for a building with both a basement and six-storeys above it. The site’s boundary was retained by a stone wall, behind which was a 50ft drop. Using a mobile crane, we were able to safely and securely install the steelwork.

Site planning and logistics is an essential aspect of construction contracting and should not be overlooked or underestimated. Bringing in an experienced, trusted team will mitigate headaches, escalating costs and reputational risks.

At Elland Steel we have been able to tackle challenging site logistics, safely bringing in large structural steelwork, by developing a team of expert planners and partners.

selective focus photo of concrete road

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