Thought Leadership // Strong Foundation // Issue XIV
Strategizing Site Logistics
Utilities and permitting. Jobsite trailers. Roads and sidewalks. Dirt. Cranes.
Managing site logistics the right way early on is crucial to setting the tone for project success. Many considerations that need to be taken into account by the general contractor are driven by the project’s environment — is it an urban environment with a tight space? Is it isolated with minimal access to utilities? Is it on a military base? Is a balanced site achievable? These are just a few of the hundreds of considerations our MW Builders team analyzes before the first shovel hits the ground.
Much of this work starts in the preconstruction phase and then becomes even more important when turned over to the operations team. There are countless considerations when it comes to site planning and logistics. Taking the time to research, develop a planned approach, and communicate with the team about the site requirements, the city you’re building in, and the client can ensure a more successful outcome.
Utilities and permitting. Obviously, jobsites need power and running water at different times throughout the build. Prior to setting up shop on site, our team thinks through sequencing of all utilities. For instance, the site might have to utilize a generator for power for a period of time. If the power lines are miles away from the site, we work with a utility company to bring power to the building. Also, each city and county across the country has different regulations on what items must be in place prior to getting power, water, or gas working in a building. They also have different rules on permitting. So as a best practice, the MW Builders team always schedules meetings with the various city departments during the design phase to make sure we understand their unique regulations. This prevents challenges later during crucial phases of the project where utilities are imperative to the schedule.
Jobsite trailers. This is the nucleus of the entire project. The main “office,” where the project teams live throughout the project, must be a place where teams can be productive and hold regular meetings. It’s crucial that the jobsite trailers are placed in a location that provides visibility to materials and people entering and exiting the site. It’s also optimal that the trailer stays in the same location for the duration of the project and not placed in a spot that’s inconvenient to site flow. The site itself will determine what type of “office” can be utilized. For instance, if the site footprint is limited, a single-wide trailer should be used instead of double-wide. Or in some cases, the office will be built into an existing structure like the parking garage. And sometimes the only option is to lease a nearby office building. Whatever the case may be, it needs to foster productivity and accommodate the dynamics unique to each project.
Roads and sidewalks. For deliveries of materials and equipment, the project team may have to request a road closure. In those cases, the MW Builders onsite team coordinates with the city to understand what they allow and require. Additionally, if a sidewalk needs to be closed, pedestrian safety and walkway traffic must be taken under consideration. And just like with road closures, each city is different when it comes to their regulations for sidewalk closures. Sometimes the solution is to create a covered walkway, or in some cases, the sidewalk needs to be temporarily shut down for a short period of time. Above all else, the safety of others is of utmost importance when planning and coordinating access to and around the project site.
Dirt. If the MW Builders team is involved early in the project, we can work toward achieving a balanced site. Typically, our team uses existing soils to regrade the site without having to import or export additional material. However, on some sites, we don’t have the opportunity to engage in site planning or design, and therefore must adapt to the specific requirements of the project to build it efficiently. On a recent multifamily project, the MW Builders team performed blastings to create an underground parking garage, and the access dirt was hauled off because of the limited site footprint. Additionally, sometimes there’s contaminated material, so we perform abatement and remove the hazardous materials so that the environment and citizens in the area remain safe. Implementing efficient site work logistics and measures are of paramount importance to the overall project schedule.
Cranes. There are a variety of cranes, and the type of crane used on a project is influenced by access, space, and what type of materials need to be lifted as well as how high they need to go. For instance, crawler cranes are generally used when building light industrial buildings, but tower cranes are used for tighter sites. Just the coordination alone associated with tower cranes is an entire site logistics feat – you are essentially building a structure to help build a larger structure. The location of the tower crane is important so that it can reach the entire site; there are always city regulations about where it can be in relationship to other structures, roads, etc.; and then it must be assembled onsite.
These are just a few of the site logistics that are analyzed and determined prior to construction even starting, and there are many more that are just as crucial to project success. When developers are choosing a building partner, having an experienced general contractor that has worked in various environments around the country is key to making sure that all the coordination is handled in an efficient and successful manner. If even one of the puzzle pieces are out of place or missing, the entire sequence and schedule can be affected. Starting in the early stages of preconstruction, our team focuses on making sure the site logistics are nailed down, and the team prioritizes communication with the owner, the city, and the design team regularly and thoroughly so that all puzzle pieces come together.