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How to safely transport equipment & materials on-site

Transporting heavy machinery, equipment and building supplies to a construction site is inherently dangerous. Any minor oversight could jeopardize your project’s success. However, deciding which route to take is just one small component of the overall strategy. An effective transportation logistics plan begins as soon as your construction contract is signed.

Setting the Stage

Before any jobsite can be activated, it is essential to set the stage. Communicating and coordinating with all the subcontractors who will be transporting your essential equipment and materials cannot occur unless you have a fully executed plan that takes into account each project’s unique issues. And there are always issues.

Once the initial drawings have been reviewed, it is time to map out the plan for safely transporting all the essentials to the jobsite. This planning process should be a mix of technology, along with a traditional “boots on the ground” inventory.

 

 

At the onset of any project, superintendents and project managers walk the site to personally access the best ingress and egress methods, internal road development plans, trailer locations and equipment storage. Special attention is always given to potential problems and hazards, followed by planning meetings to design feasible workarounds. Utilizing drone aerial photos is beneficial for more complicated jobsites.

The resulting map is highly detailed and provides subcontractors with clear directions for transporting your equipment onto the site. Working with your building information modeling (BIM) team will also increase your efficiency, especially when dealing with tight jobsites, which can lead to equipment transportation and storage safety issues. The following are a few steps to setting the stage:

  • Evaluate the site.
  • Determine the sequence of how the buildings will be constructed.
  • Create a plan to for how to stage your materials.
  • Identify your pinch points.

One final aspect to set the stage is neighborhood relationship building. This can make or break some projects and needs to be taken very seriously. Often, a tight jobsite will require cooperation with adjacent building owners.

Current Builders recently had a project where the only road in or out of the jobsite was owned by the corporate offices next door. Through negotiations with the owner, the team was able to create a comprehensive system to utilize the road to transport equipment and materials while maintaining a safe route for the adjacent building’s tenants.

Inbound & Outbound

Creating transportation routes within your jobsite is just as important as figuring the best routes to take to the site. Not having internal roads built before your big cranes and cement mixers arrive can cause this heavy equipment to get stuck in soft soil, leading to safety issues and lost time.

 

Another aspect of planning for your equipment arrival is determining where the trailers, cranes, tunnel forms and other equipment will be placed once delivered. Your BIM team will be fundamental in mapping out the space available and updating the site logistics plan throughout the process.

Like all major construction firms, Current Builders has long-term relationships with the subcontractors who deliver big equipment. These licensed, insured and respected firms typically know the project locations very well. However, Current Builders always supplies them with the detailed maps and information from the BIM team, which highlight potential hazards like powerlines and height restricted areas.

For more complicated jobsites, never rely solely on maps, but instead require the driver or operator to personally visit the jobsite ahead of construction to assess the challenges that could cause potential problems in the future.

Once all these preliminary matters are addressed, the delivery schedule can commence. The web-based tool Touchplan has become a very beneficial program for coordinating all the varied deliveries from both subcontractors and Current Builders’ internal concrete division, CB Structures.

While subcontractors handle the secure loading and delivery of the majority of equipment deliveries to the jobsite, the CB Structures team has their own equipment, including large tunnel forms and rebar that must be transported from the storage area. Local trucking companies handle the delivery of this equipment.

 

However, the CB Structures team has a multistep securing process and inspection plan to make sure each piece of equipment is firmly fastened and adheres to all height restrictions for the route to the site. The following safety protocols must happen before transportation commences:

  • Wash all machinery, as clean items are much easier to evaluate.
  • Disconnect the batteries of any machinery.
  • Latch all doors so they do not open while in transit.
  • Wrap all breakable parts.

Of course, before the trucks can hit the designated route, all permits have been filed and any temporary lane closure coordinated with the Department of Transportation. But what about your site flaggers? Some states do not require flaggers to be certified, but it is not recommended under any circumstance to use uncertified people in this role.

Certified flaggers are an integral part of your safety protocol; guiding the transportation of your equipment and coordinating with motorists who are navigating around your project. Not everyone has the disposition to become a flagger, as it’s a highly stressful job, but candidates who have the temperament can gain certification through programs like the American Traffic Safety Services Association.

On-Site Safety

Transporting big equipment onto a site and setting it up can be fraught with hazards. Therefore, you must communicate with your crew daily. Morning toolbox talks create an informed team, leading to a safe site with minimal conflicts. A detailed activity hazard analysis will keep the team apprised of the dangers of the day and will pinpoint areas to avoid. Using Touch Plan and coordinating with your BIM team can help circumvent on-site transportation safety issues, such as:

  • Blocked entrances and exits
  • Unavailable loading zones
  • Conflicting delivery arrivals
  • Encroachment of a safety radius

A newer aspect of on-site transportation safety that has emerged since the onset of COVID-19 has to do with the handling of shared tools, equipment and vehicles.

 

While most employees have their own personal tools that they bring to the site and are locked in construction sheds during downtime, there are items that are transported to the site that have been used by others.

The required use of gloves by all employees and the disinfection of community items have been implemented at Current Builders since the pandemic.

 

An effective construction transportation plan is indispensable part of every project. A smart, well-communicated strategy will reduce costly delays and ensure not only the safety of your workers, but also the community at large.