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The Basic Concept Of Materials Management Construction Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Construction
Wordcount: 3989 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The basic concept of materials management or MM is that the system can helps to reduce cost and delays on site where the work is performed due to the poor performance done by the management teams on how to handle different materials at the right quantity, source and time. Materials management also can be defined as a process where it shows how the building was designed and materials are estimated. From the initial phase of planning until the completion phase that is waste management, the materials management will need to be efficient in order to avoid any delay and extra cost. ‘Materials’ can be in the forms of raw materials, components, consumables, capital goods, spares, furniture and etc. In the management teams has to have a Project Manager to lead and responsible for the teams. Then come in a Planning Engineer and Material Engineer to prepare a material schedule, list out materials that need to be order, monitoring and control of materials consumption used at projects and etc. Choosing of right sources especially nature materials like aggregates and stones will be the job of Quality Control Engineer. He also needs to be in charge of sampling and testing materials that are received on site accordance to the given specification. Lastly, will be the Store Manager duty to follow up with the vendors, receiving and issuing the right materials and etc. The example case study of MM can be seen on the following scenario. AlmatabSdn.Bhd. is carrying out a housing project which is semi-detached houses and double storey terrace in Johor. The construction site layout has been prepared as shown in Figure 1 which illustrates the layout equipment, building materials and access roads for the erection of the building. As a new site manager, you are requested to study the site management to be applied for the project and give some comments and advices on the layout.


2.1 What is Materials Management?

There are different definitions that are provided by different researcher/author for materials management throughout the years. Ballot (1971) defines materials management as the process of planning, acquiring, storing, moving, and controlling materials to effectively use facilities, personnel, resources and capital. Tersine and Campbell (1977) stated that materials management as a process that provide the right materials at the right place at the right time in order to maintain a desired level of production at minimum cost. Beekman-Love (1978) indicates that a materials management structure should be organized in such a way that it allows for integral planning and coordination of the flow of materials, in order to use the resources in an optimal way and to minimize costs.

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Chandler (1978) explain that materials management systems should be implemented to plan, order, and check deliveries, warehousing, controlling the use of materials, and paying for materials. Ammer (1980) defines materials management as the process in which a company acquires the materials that it needs to achieve their objectives. Bailey and Farmer (1982) define materials management as a concept concerned with the management of materials until the materials have been used and converted into final product. Gossom (1983) indicates that a materials management system should have standard procedures for planning, expediting, transportation, receipt and storage to ensure an efficient system for materials control.Cavinato (1984) stated that materials management involves in the control of the flow of goods in a firm. It is the combination of purchasing with production, distribution, marketing and finance. Arnold (1991) defines that materials management is a function responsible for planning and controlling of materials flow.

2.2 Scope of Materials Management

1. Material Planning and Controlling

This function is based on the sales forecast and the production plans of a company. The activities of the function are:

Estimation of materials requirements.

Preparation of materials budget of the company.

Estimating the levels of inventories required in the company.

Scheduling the orders placed with the suppliers to ensure availability of material.

Controlling by monitoring of production sales.

2. Purchasing

The purchasing is one of the major functions for materials management. This function contains the following activities:

Identification and selection of possible suppliers.

Finalizing the terms and references of purchases that are to be made.

Placing the purchase orders this activity may be staggered as per the inventory control function.

Managing the purchase orders till delivery of materials.

Giving clearance to payment of received good

Analyzing the performance of the suppliers and rating them.

3. Stores and Inventory Control

This function helps in physical control of materials. It has the following list of activities:

Minimization of material losses due to obsolescence and handling. This activity controls the timely disposal and efficient handling of materials.

Maintenance of stores records along with proper location and stocking of materials.

Physical verification of stocks and reconciling.

2.3 Phases of Materials Management Process

Bidding Phase

The contractor identifies the materials needed as well as any special requirements or special materials to be used in the project. Quantities needed are estimated and a bid package is put together and submitted.

Sourcing Phase

This phase involve inselection of thereputable suppliers and manufactures. The selection of suppliers is critical and the performance of a supplier can decide between a successful project and a project full of delays. Therefore, the contractor needs to verify that the supplier is capable of delivering the right material.

Material Procurement

The generation of a material requisition schedule. Once a material requisition schedule is in place, individual requisitions are generated from the construction site by either the foreman or the project manager. When a release form is generated, suppliers are contacted for procuring the material needed. The type of material needed, quantities, time when the material is needed and delivery location are specified to the supplier.

Construction Phase

This phase involves in receiving, storing and distributing the material on site. The receiving process involves inspection of the material when it is received to verify that the type of material delivered is the one ordered, qualities received against quantities ordered and quality of the delivered material.

Post- Construction Phase

After the installation of the materials in place, the EC has to manage any surplus material. The surplus is handled differently depending on the type of material and also whether or not the contractor has a warehouse. If the company has a warehouse, the surplus material is stored in the warehouse for use in the future projects.

2.4 Classification of Materials

Raw materials: Example; plastic granules.

Purchase components

Work- in- progress

Finished goods


Consumables: Examples; Coal, paints, mineral oil,etc.

Machinery and equipment: Examples; lathe machines, electric motors, etc.

Inflammables: Examples; petrol, kerosene, etc.

Chemicals: Examples; carbides acids and nitrous gases.

Furniture: Examples; chairs, tables, etc.

Scrap materials: Examples; waste materials.

Packaging materials: Examples; boxes, bottles, wax and grease, etc.

Fuel stock: Example; coal, etc.

General stores: Examples; soap, brooms, stationary, etc.

2.5 Participants in Materials Management

1. Pre – construction Phase


Need to designs for best use of standard sizes, for multiple applications and for their recyclability.


Ensures appropriate structural component dimensions, quality and spacing for use of standard fasteners and materials for multiple applications and recyclability.


Use the latest materials takeoff technologies and exercises accuracy in estimates.


Has to plans purchases and deliveries in order to reduce surplus and to balance materials maintenance during on-site storage versus transportation energy consumption.

Construction Site Phase

Site Construction Management

Applies the materials management plan to the site and oversees its implementation.

Site Materials Manager

Keeps track of new materials, cuts and used materials, organizes and stores them for availability in accordance.

Subcontract Management

Need to communicate with site management and Materials Manager regarding the types of materials that able to use for various purposes.

Trade Workers

Use materials properly, store new materials properly, handle and cut them carefully for maximum use or minimum waste.

3 Off-site Phase


Use recyclable packaging and returnable containers and pallets, and accept the returned containers and pallets or informs the site of others who will accept them.

Recyclers & Haulers

Provide containers for convenient materials storage and retrieval if appropriate. Instruct the site personnel in separation and quality requirements.

2.6 Advantages of Materials Management

An effective material management system can bring many benefits for a company.

Better accountability on part of materials as well as other departments as no one can shift blame to others.

Generally materials management is handled by single authority, it can result a better coordination, as it becomes the central point for any materials related problems.

Materials management department make sure that better quality material is supplied on time to the requesting departments. This can result in better performance of the company.

A materials management system is typically controlled through an information system, thus can help in taking decision related to material in the company.

One indirect advantage of material management is that good quality material develops the ethical and moral standard in the company.

2.7 Challenge of Handling Material (supplier relationship)

It is almost impossible to maintain a good relationship with the suppliers during construction as there will always be a barrier between the buyer and suppliers. A good relationship with suppliers is important for the materials management process as it will make sure that schedule is on time. This is how the management teams can do to improve the relationship with the suppliers.


Courtesy and promptness should be shown to the supplier’s representatives whenever they visit the buyer’s office. Even if they visit without prior notices, they should be treated nicely and perhaps could probably request to call again at other time.


When sending out enquiries, full details of the required materials, delivery time, and etc., should be given to avoid unnecessary correspondence and clarification.


Strict impartiality should be observed in according orders and all unfair practices should be avoided.

Lead time

Adequate time should be given to the suppliers to affect deliveries and rush orders should be kept to the minimum. Reports in delay in delivery and unsatisfactory quality should be politely convey on no account rude letters should be sent or discourteous words spoken from the buyer’s side.

Mutual understanding

It also an advantages to be aware of supplier’s manufacturing problems and raw materials difficulties and to extend help to resolve them if possible.


The buyer should ensure that payment of supplier’s bills is not unduly delayed.

Personal visit

Occasional visit to the supplier’s plant often contribute to better understanding between the buyer and supplier. Good relationship often brings benefits for both parties.

2.8 Problems of Materials Management on Site

Materials management can be divided into five categories:

The measurement and specification;

The procurement and purchasing process where the order is transmitted to thesupplier;

Delivery to site and logistics of checking the order, off loading, and storing onsite;

The administrative and financial process of payment;

Using the materials in production on the job site and removing the waste.

Some common problems on construction site are more obvious which are namely:

Failure to order on time which delays the projects;

Delivery at the wrong time which interrupts the work schedule;

Over ordering;

Wrong materials or error in direction of materials requiring re-work;

Theft of materials from delivery into production;

Double handling of materials because of inadequate material.

2.9 Importance of Materials Management

Materials constitute the biggest single element of cost. Generally more half the cost of any production system is due to materials alone. Therefore reduced materials cost is vital for improved productivity. Non-availability of materials are resource input leads to production shut down, project delays etc. hence timely availability of material is vital for production efficiency. Below is the list of the importance of materials management.

Lower prices for material and equipment.

Faster inventory turnover.

Continuity of supply

Reduced lead time

Reduced transportation cost.

Less duplication of efforts.

Elimination of bulk- passing.

Reduced materials obsolescence.

Improved supplier relationship and better records and information.

Better inter-department cooperation.

Personnel development.


Temporary Road


Figure 1: Existing Site Layout

Double Storey Terrace


Temporary building

Waste materials


Scaffold store



Semi-detached houses



Concrete batching plant

3.1 Evaluation of Existing Site Layout

Site entrance and exit

If the site entrance and exit is not place properly then it will causes confuses to the contractor, visitors, workers and supplier that deliver materials as they will simply use an open road to enter or exit and maybe can make the site more pack with vehicles.

Security hut

The security hut is important to put in the site layout as it can help to keep the site safe from intruder that want to steal the materials or equipment and also to keep outsider from trespass the construction site.


The materials name is not specified.The materials are being cramp in one place. This will lead to a delay in the schedule as the materials are not placed properly and label according to their classification.

Water and power supply

A construction site cannot be operate if there is no water and power supply as those supplies are indeed for sanitary purpose and lighting in the jobsite.


It really unreasonable for the canteen to be left out or not included in the site layout as it provides a place to eat and rest for the workers and contractor.

Site office

The location of the site office must be free from those storage of materials as it can lead to noise pollution or hazardous to the worker that work inside an office for all day long.

Car park

A place for car park is important as it needed for the contractor or visitors to park their car in a safe place compare than just simply park beside a dangerous jobsite.

Water Drainage / Sewer line

Water drainage or sewer line must be included in the site layout as it will be a big help for sanitary purpose and for clean up the waste after the works is completed.

Problems of Poor Planning Site Layout

1. Wrongly located the materials.

Materials cannot be placed too far from work area or stocked over a drainage line. Their delivery was wrongly phased and not needed until much later.

2. Wrongly located the plants and equipment.

Storage for aggregates such as lime stones, stones and fine sands are not sufficient on site. Plants such as fixed cranes are unable to reach all parts of the works if wrongly placed on the jobsite.

3. Insufficient space in the site.

Materials may be stacked on roadways that can cause hazards during construction period. Working areas become too cramped with the poor planning of site layout.

4. Wrongly located the site office.

Site office that located near noisy activities such as mixer or too near the roads and it can cause disturbance to the people that working inside the office.

5. Poor communication

Communication is one of the key for a successful materials management on site as it can help to give correct information about materials. Relationships between suppliers also need to be fixed as it can give benefit to the management teams.

6. Poor security

Security in construction site is important as to protect the materials and plant on the site from theft and malicious damage. It also can ensure that the public are stop from trespassing to the site and thus endangering their safety.

7. Temporary weather protection


Water Supply

Scaffold Store

Site OfficeProtections are including the workers, materials, building work and equipment during construction work. Materials that are delivered to site must be placed in a correct position for weather protection. Example: brickwork needs protection from rain.



Cement Store

Site Exit

Site Entrance

Equipment Storage

Steel Storage





Waste Materials

Aggregate Storage

Power Supply

Line Sewer


Temporary Road

Concrete batching plant

Semi-detached houses

Double Storey Terrace

Figure 2: Improved Site Layout

3.3 Suggested improved Site Layout

Security hut

There are two security huts in the layout. Security is need to be enforce on the site as it will help to prevent any intruder that come to steal materials and outsider that enter site without permission.

Site entrance and exit

Site entrance and exit is located easily as it near the security hut.They are placed in place where it will be easier for the vehicles to move in or out without giving any disturbance to others.

Site office and car park

The site office has been located near the site entrance. The reason was simple as the location is far from any hazardous that can harm the health of the contractor’s staff or visitors.Car park also is placed near office for connivance purpose.

Materials labels and storage

All the materials have been specified and located accordingly as it make the finding process of the materials easier and can prevent any delay in the schedule of materials management.


A place that is needed for the workers to eat and rest as this also can help them to gain more energy and perform better after a hard work in the jobsite.

Water and power supply

This is because the site must have clean water for sanitary purpose while the power supply is to give electric power for lighting and equipment purpose.

Concrete Batching Plant and Waste Materials

Concrete batching plant has been moved near the site exit as it will be easier for the aggregates and cement storage to place beside it. While the location of waste materials must be considering the safety of the workers and can be avoided by placing at the back of the layout.

Line Sewer

The line sewer is one of the important items in a layout and is added for drainage and waste purpose.


4.1 Elements of Materials Management on site


Fire prevention: Fire is a major cause of damage on construction site.

Medical services: On construction project a first aid kit is a must.

Construction safety clothing: Basic safety supplies like safety shoes, hard hats, gloves and goggles must be used by workers.

Delivery access

The access need to be available from time to time as any particular materials may be need to use for the work that on process.

Material storage

The location and sizes of space for any particular material need to be consider by calculating the area required and relevant factors before selecting a suitable area as the storage.

Access roads

Although there is no structure was constructed as temporary road, an access must be provided on site.

Material handling and lifting equipment

The use of proper equipment for material handling can result a direct cost and time savings.

Personnel movement on the work area

There must be a sufficient space allow in the work area so that the job site won’t be too cramp for any movement.

Temporary facilities related to project requirements

After selecting the temporary facilities that are needed on site, the size required for them must be estimated.


Based on the case study, wecan conclude that it is important to apply a proper material management system to the construction site as it can properly organize the materials, equipment and plan on site.TheProject Manager has to take lead by enforcing his/her power to monitor materials schedule on all projects. The management teams have to keep trying to use various materials management technique on construction projects as it progress. Relationships with the supplier also need to be fixed as it can affect the overall process of materials management. The site must have a good security in day and night to ensure that the materials are protected from theft or pilfering. The surplus materials also need to be taken in consideration as all projects can expect a certain amount of surplus and it has to be well conceived and executed. Any wastes materials that are produced during the construction also need to be disposing properly avoid any hazard that can causes health problem to the environment. This is because a good planning of materials management can help to avoid any delays of works on site and reduce any extra cost for a project.

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Although the materials management scope stated everything that is needed to be achieved for a project but in reality problems still occur till today as lack of project information given to the management during the construction period. Most of the management teams of projects tried hard to satisfy with the needs of construction and yet still achieved poor results in return. Even if the materials management process is practiced for every construction project, it still has many flaws that have to be improved.Importance rule that must be kept in mind is that: your results are directly shown due to how much effort that you pour for it.Therefore, every participants or team members of project need to play their role accordingly as it takes more than a single person responsibility to make it possibly successful in the future.


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