Being a Materials Coordinator is a challenging and rewarding career. There is nothing like the feelings of accomplishment from getting material to a construction site. Especially in those unimaginable situations when things are in short supply.
And, being the Go-To guy is a feeling like no other. It’s a feeling that every coordinator longs for. And you should too. You need to believe there is no situation that can’t be solved. No matter how big or small. Because, what you do makes a difference. You could be the one that could help solve problems. And, by doing so you get another sense of accomplishment when the results are tallied.
I remember the first time I was approached by a construction manager. In saying the least, his attitude was a little stressful in nature. When he spoke, it was almost like I was expected to read his mind. Besides that, he didn’t offer a definitive list of materials. And, there were no descriptions to run from either. To make things worse, even quantities were vague.
I can still hear his voice demanding those materials. And, the words he used. “I need that material now.” As I walked away, I kept thinking about what he said. “My workers are sitting on their asses waiting on you. Do you know how much that is costing me? It is far more than what those materials cost…and my schedule is at risk!”
He wasn’t concerned about the process either. I had to figure that out too. Because, that was my job, Getting materials onsite, and controlling them, while adhering to the Materials Management process.
So, I needed to get back to my desk. And, it would be an understatement if I said I walked rather briskly. While doing so, I ran scenarios through my brain. Almost like I was trying to figure out how to launch a rocket. Things like, “What material? He didn’t specify what? Did I miss a request? Did I forget to have his material moved? “Was it my fault the material didn’t arrive? Did I miss unpacking a shipment? Maybe his material was on that load? Maybe my manager knows what he’s talking about?”
Whatever the case, I had a deadline to meet, I had one hour before he called me back. Not to mention the added risk of having to explain to him why a shortage existed. If in fact that was the case.
When I got back, I couldn’t focus on anything else. He needed those materials. “Now!”
Everyone else who came to my desk were either told to wait or were shunned away. I needed to focus on this task. And focus I did.
But, that created a backlog. It also created more problems for me. Because, my other customers were also waiting for materials. And being inexperienced, I couldn’t manage. I was knew to this. Multitasking was a skill I needed to learn, but had no time to do it right now. The clock was ticking…
Instead, I was destined at the time to take the journey of the inexperienced young buck…and panic!
Be good at what you do
Now, many years later, I can say I am a lot better at my job. All as a result of working through the many situations I dealt with throughout my career.
For those more seasoned veterans, I am sure you can appreciate what I was going through at the time. As you know, there are many ways to manage this situation. For instance, having the knowledge of the overall scenario. Not to mention, a good sense of inventory. Which in itself, could have helped alleviate the concern in the first place.
And, the aspiring Coordinator can get better too, if you continue to learn, keep listening, and most importantly, be diligent.
How you can learn
- Scheduling Materials
Knowing how a construction schedule works allowed me the chance to stay ahead of the game. Because, I knew every schedule has a detailed list of materials. It outlines when materials are required, according to the engineering model. To be thorough, you should analyze your schedules on a weekly basis. Afterwards, you would know where to store materials. When preservation and storage is required. In addition, you would know the sequence of when materials are going to be installed.
Besides that, I also gained an understanding of trends. Which changed, especially when a schedule was updated. The reasons for those include construction delays. Some reasons for that would be due to damaged material or changes in engineering design after project start. Weather conditions can delay a project as well however, working extra shifts, for instance, could alleviate this concern.
Some of these factors affect the overall timeframe related to the completion of a project. You can gain additional details by having a look at Managing Materials is your Bottom Line. This provides more details about how you can use your schedule to help organize your materials.
- Understand your Min/Max
Gaining an intimate relationship with inventory levels is very important to customer satisfaction and cost savings. Especially when the risk of potential shortages are concerned. Because, there is nothing like the feeling of having to answer the question of “Where is the material?” That is why the Materials Coordinator should review stock levels daily.
Knowing the heartbeat of the warehouse is equally important. Because knowing when and where material is stored could save you heartache. Maintaining a close relationship with Warehouse managers could make a difference too. Unless you think the alternative of having no inventory is a better scenario. Take a look here for more details on how you can avoid being out of stock.
- Learn the Pick Pack Ship process
Warehouse workers know optimizing Pick, Pack and Ship processes makes for a more efficient operation. Every warehouse has many aspects related to how long material gets stored for instance. Customer orders get filled on a daily basis, but sometimes there is the potential for errors and omissions.
As a Materials Coordinator, you should understand the true nature of picking stock, properly packaging it and efficiently shipping the material. That way, if someone asks, “where is my material?”, you would know if it is being picked, packed or ready for shipment. Please have a look at this guide.
It is true, being a Materials Coordinator is a wonderful career. To be a great one takes time, dedication and experience.
What have you learned over the years? Did you have an experience that could help? Please share your thoughts below?