Construction inventory software helps businesses in the construction industry keep track of their inventory materials in any construction site or project location, including central storage locations.
The just-in-time (JIT) inventory method has long been the preferred approach of most construction businesses, which builds a strong reliance on the instant or immediate availability of construction materials at any stage of development for any given project. However, the pandemic has impacted the efficacy of the JIT inventory method as more and more supply chains broke down and operational restrictions were being enforced left and right during the early days of the pandemic. As a result, many construction companies started to temporarily shift from the JIT model to a just-in-case (JIC) inventory approach, which involves stocking as many materials or products as possible to avoid stock shortages.
However, the JIC model is merely a short-term remedy and is not a sustainable strategy for cost-effective inventory management. So, what does all this mean? The past couple of years have shown the true value and relevance of a good construction inventory management system in providing contractors and construction businesses the ability to effectively manage their resources, especially the consumable materials and products like lumber, cement, nuts and bolts, etc. Construction inventory management software is also crucial to the success of construction supply businesses. Reliable and efficient inventory management is an important process for businesses of all sizes across multiple industries, including companies in the construction sector, from contractors to suppliers.
Construction inventory software solutions that are specifically tailored for contractors and construction firms are designed to facilitate the inventory or stockpiling of raw materials used to complete products and designs, which then go toward the construction of a building or any structural project. A good example of this would be the erection of the posts and the assembly of the beams that would serve as the foundation of a house being constructed.
Building the foundation of even a simple housing project will require raw materials such as lumber, iron and steel bars, nails, cinder blocks, etc. All materials used in this process have to be counted and tracked more accurately and in real time when necessary. This is where a good construction inventory management strategy comes in handy and why the right inventory control and management solution is very important in making things more digestible and less overwhelming.
For construction supply companies, on the other hand, construction inventory software serves a slightly different function. Contractors and construction firms deal with consumable materials such as nails, cement and lumber, which they consume to complete projects, while construction supply companies are involved with buying and selling the same materials. In other words, construction supply companies purchase the raw materials and sell them to contractors and construction firms. Both types of businesses require a software solution that can help them accurately track inventory in an efficient and automated manner. Enter construction inventory systems.
One of the fundamental features of inventory management software for construction companies is the inventory counting/tracking solution. This feature enables users to automatically track their inventory levels and count the available materials. It also lets them generate billing estimates as well as unit price contract invoices. Moreover, inventory transactions can be easily integrated with the contractor’s accounts receivable and job costing, which can result in a more streamlined workflow. The inventory tracking tool allows users to define limitless raw material/item lists and inventory types/categories.
Another great feature of construction inventory software is its ability to track multi-matrix product variations. Consider this: in any job site you will be handling an overwhelmingly broad range of items and raw materials. In many cases, you will have the same materials in your inventory but with different sizes, characteristics, colors, etc. Take for instance your stock of nuts and bolts. You’re not just talking about a single type of nuts and bolts here—you have to track the different lengths, widths and fittings that are in your inventory. The same goes for items like floor tiles with varying sizes and materials, as well as materials for final finishes like the cans of paint in your inventory. All these have to be accounted for and constantly monitored through an inventory tracking tool.
Good construction inventory management software should have flexible units of measurement. This is pretty important since different construction materials have different units of measure. For example, lumber and iron beams are often measured in length. This is far different from measuring sacks of gravel and cement, which are measured in weight. We’re not even going to touch on the various units of measurement used in other materials like roof shingles, floor tiles, crates/boxes of nails, etc. The point is this particular function is very useful when you’re creating a purchase order for the materials that are needed for your construction project.
Warehouse management and the ability to effectively manage raw materials are crucial functions that are also offered by comprehensive construction inventory software. For warehouse management, a construction inventory management solution will provide tools like a barcode scanning system, for example. This serves the same function as any inventory management software designed for other industries. The raw materials management function is quite unique to the construction industry, since most construction materials are often categorized as raw materials. This is because the materials are typically used to perform simple manufacturing to create or produce the final product in the job site. For example, gravel, cement and cinder blocks are some of the raw materials used to create concrete walls.
Inventory management solutions for construction firms also offer tools for tracking work orders. The ability to track work orders plays a significant role in inventory management, job costing, worker assignment, stage completion and the estimation or projection of completion dates. The software allows users to create work orders that can be easily tracked. They can create work orders that can be completed in a single stage or they can stack them with other work orders, effectively compiling a manufacture order. Other modules that may be present in construction inventory software are in-depth inventory reporting, scheduling, native mobile apps and third-party system integration.
Construction inventory software is a modern solution for a modern construction business. Many of today’s inventory management systems for the construction industry are equipped with a robust set of features and tools that are specifically tailored to address the unique requirements of contractors, construction firms and construction supply companies. The ultimate goal of using this type of software solution is to make it easier and more convenient to track a company’s inventory of raw materials.
One of the biggest benefits of using an inventory management system for construction firms is the simplified inventory tracking. Most inventory management software products in the market use automation technology to simplify the inventory tracking process. The software, for example, can send alerts on depleting stock levels of raw materials as well as schedule reminders. This allows contractors and construction firms to focus on other aspects of their project, instead of spending all their time on doing inventory.
Contractors and construction companies can also benefit from comprehensive reporting, which is a common function in all top-tier construction inventory software. The software solution provides a clear visualization of stock levels so companies can make all the necessary adjustments to their current inventory in an effort to match the projected timeline. Through comprehensive reporting, users will have complete inventory control and visibility. They can also expect an accurate accounting of all raw materials and items to ensure on-time completion of work orders. With advanced analytics and reporting, contractors and job site managers can stay informed and make data-driven decisions.
Good construction inventory management software also makes it easier to allocate raw materials like cement, gravel, lumber, steel beams, nails, etc. as well as construction equipment between construction sites. If you’re a construction company that handles multiple projects, you can easily manage and allocate your inventory across all job sites using your inventory management solution. If one job site is running low on cement, for example, you can reallocate several sacks of cement from other sites that have extra, while awaiting delivery from your supplier. You can even use the software to generate purchase orders for depleted construction materials.
There is also the third-party integration feature. Most of today’s construction inventory software are designed to seamlessly integrate with third-party systems that you may already be using in your construction business. You can easily integrate your inventory management system with your purchasing solution, service billing, job costing and other accounting tools in your software stack, although there are construction inventory management solutions out there that provide these functions as built-in or native features.
Construction inventory software is a management solution designed for businesses in the construction industry. Although inventory management is often offered as a built-in feature in platforms like construction management software, there are good standalone inventory management systems that are also tailored for contractors, construction firms and even construction supply companies.
Construction inventory management solutions are equipped with features and tools that make life easier for contractors and site managers, especially when it comes to tracking inventory levels in real time, avoiding over- and under-stocking, generating in-depth reports, streamlining workflows, as well as optimizing inventory, schedules and project timelines.