How to Reduce Material Wastage in Construction

Published on May 30, 2024
construction project planning and scheduling
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Reducing Construction Waste: Optimizing Construction Material Management

According to the UK Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), up to 13% of materials delivered to construction sites end up as waste. This statistic highlights the significant amount of material inefficiency in the construction industry. Research conducted by Bimhow shows that the construction industry is responsible for 50% of all natural resource extraction worldwide, underlining its considerable environmental impact.

Improper material handling, storage, and usage can lead to substantial waste, not only inflating project costs but also contributing to environmental degradation through the excessive use of natural resources and the disposal of unused materials. For construction companies striving to stay within budget and schedule, reducing material waste is crucial.

In this blog, we will explore the causes and effects of material wastage in construction and provide practical solutions to minimize construction material waste and improve efficiency.

Causes of Material Wastage

  1. Over-ordering of materials: One common cause of construction material waste is over-ordering. This happens when there are inaccurate calculations or when extra materials are ordered as a safety buffer. For example, if a construction project needs 100 bricks, but 130 are ordered just in case, the extra 30 bricks might end up as waste if they are not needed. This over-ordering can lead to unnecessary costs and wasted materials that have to be stored or disposed of.
  2. Poor Storage: Improper storage is another factor contributing to construction material waste. When materials are not stored properly, they are at risk of becoming damaged, spoiled, or unusable. For instance, if wood is left exposed to rain, it may warp and rot, making it unsuitable for construction purposes. Likewise, storing cement bags in a damp environment can cause them to harden and lose their usefulness. Poor handling and storage practices ultimately lead to the wastage of materials that can no longer be utilized in the project, resulting in higher costs and a negative impact on the environment.
  3. Site mismanagement: Poor management of construction sites contributes to the wastage of materials. This includes issues like theft, where materials are stolen from the site, or misplacement, where materials are lost and can't be found when needed. Incorrect usage of materials is also a problem, such as using the wrong type of material for a task or using more material than necessary. These issues lead to wasted resources, increased costs, and delays in project completion.
  4. Design changes during construction: Changes in design that occur during the construction process contribute to material wastage. Sometimes, unexpected alterations must be made to the original plans, leading to multiple change orders. These adjustments often require the use of different or additional materials, rendering previously ordered materials unnecessary or unusable. This not only results in wasted materials but also adds additional expenses and delays to the project.
  5. Poor Communication Between Project Stakeholders: Inefficient communication among project stakeholders can also contribute to construction material waste. When architects, engineers, contractors, and suppliers fail to effectively communicate, misunderstandings and errors can occur. For instance, due to a miscommunication, a contractor may receive incorrect quantities or the wrong materials altogether. This can result in ordering too much or the wrong type of materials, which then go to waste.

Consequences of Material Wastage

  1. Increased project costs: One major consequence of poor construction material management is increased project costs. When materials are wasted, it means money has been spent on items that are not used in the project. This unnecessary expense can add up quickly, putting a burden on the project budget. Buying extra materials that end up being thrown away or not used at all leads to higher costs and can impact the overall financial health of the construction project.
  2. Project Delay: Material wastage leads project delays. When materials are wasted or mismanaged, there can be shortages, which means you might run out of necessary supplies. This can stop the progress of the construction project while waiting for replacements to be ordered and delivered. These delays can push back deadlines and disrupt the entire project schedule, making it hard to complete the project on time.
  3. Environmental Impact: Another significant consequence of material wastage is its impact on the environment. Construction waste adds to the amount of garbage in landfills, taking up space and contributing to pollution. When materials are not used efficiently, they often end up as waste, which can harm the environment. This waste can release harmful substances into the air, water, and soil, causing long-term damage. Reducing material waste is important not just for saving money but also for protecting our planet.

OnSpace: An Effective Platform for Construction Material Management

OnSpace helps you minimize waste through efficient material management. Here's how:

  1. Real-Time Reporting and Analytics: OnSpace provides real-time reporting and analytics tools that enable you to make data-driven decisions. With just a few clicks, you can generate detailed reports to analyze and identify trends in material usage. By closely monitoring material usage on your construction projects, you can pinpoint areas where waste is occurring and implement strategies to reduce it. Whether it’s identifying over-ordering patterns or construction mistakes, OnSpace’s reporting capabilities empower you to take proactive steps toward more efficient material management. With access to real-time insights, you can optimize your construction processes, minimize waste, and ultimately save both time and money.
  2. Project Budgeting and Cost Tracking: OnSpace offers insightful project budgeting and cost tracking features to help you closely monitor your project's finances. With our construction material management software, you can keep track of your project budgets in real-time and quickly identify any potential cost overruns related to materials. By tracking costs accurately, you can see where your money is going and ensure that you stay within your budget. This helps prevent unexpected expenses and allows you to make adjustments before small issues become big problems. OnSpace’s cost tracking ensures that you are always aware of your spending, helping you manage your resources efficiently and avoid unnecessary waste.
  3. Collaboration: OnSpace provides real-time communication within the forms to ensure everyone involved in the project is on the same page. This means that all stakeholders, including architects, engineers, contractors, on-site workers and off-site managers can easily communicate and share updates instantly. When a change order is sent, all users are notified immediately. They can access these change orders anytime they need to refer to them, ensuring that everyone knows what changes have been made and why. Constant communication is crucial in construction to avoid misunderstandings and keep the project running smoothly. By keeping everyone informed and connected, OnSpace helps prevent mistakes and ensures that the project stays on track.
  4. Mobile Data Capture: OnSpace allows you to capture material usage data directly at the construction site using mobile devices. This can be done by taking pictures of the materials being used or by filling out forms on your phone or tablet. This feature makes it easy to keep track of materials in real-time, ensuring that you have an accurate record of what is being used and when.

    With mobile data capture, you can quickly and easily document material usage, reducing the chance of errors and helping to manage resources more efficiently. This real-time data entry also enables immediate updates to the central system, ensuring that all team members have the latest information.

    By using OnSpace construction material management software, you can improve accuracy in inventory tracking, streamline the workflow, and make informed decisions promptly. It helps to prevent material wastage, reduce costs, and keep the project running smoothly. OnSpace's mobile capability ensures that you maintain control over your resources and project progress, even when you’re on the go.
  5. Inventory Management System: OnSpace offers an Inventory Management System that allows you to track material stock levels in real-time across different project locations. This system helps you know exactly how much construction material you have on hand at any given time. By keeping an accurate count of your inventory, you can prevent over-ordering, which often leads to waste and increased costs.

    With real-time updates, you can quickly see when you need to reorder materials and avoid running out unexpectedly. This ensures that your projects stay on schedule and that you make the most efficient use of your resources. OnSpace’s inventory management helps you maintain control over your materials, reducing waste and ensuring efficient project execution.
  6. Forecasting and Planning Optimization: OnSpace helps you refine future material estimates and project planning by using data to reduce construction waste. This means you can review past projects to see how much material was used and adjust your estimates for future projects. For example, if you notice that you consistently order too much concrete for similar projects, you can adjust your estimates to order just the right amount next time. By analyzing this data, you can plan more accurately and avoid over-ordering, which saves money and reduces construction waste. This kind of planning ensures that your projects run more smoothly and efficiently, with fewer resources wasted.

Reducing material wastage is essential for both cost savings and environmental benefits. By reducing waste, construction companies can significantly lower project costs and lessen their impact on the environment. Efficient material management not only cuts down on unnecessary expenses but also contributes to more sustainable construction practices.

OnSpace promotes efficient material management by offering real-time reporting, project budgeting and cost tracking, enhanced collaboration, mobile data capture, and inventory management. These features help construction teams use materials more wisely, reduce waste, and ensure that every project runs smoothly and sustainably.

Discover the advantages of efficient material management first-hand. Start your free trial of OnSpace today and see how it can transform your construction projects into more cost-effective and eco-friendly endeavours.

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