Logistics is the commercial activity of transporting goods to a customer. This is a simple definition, but while a manufacturer’s value should lie in solving its customers’ problems, neglecting the efficiency of its supply chain could make them worse.
This is particularly relevant for heating and ventilation product manufacturers and the contribution they make to successful construction projects. Whether it is a new build or refurbishment, inefficient logistics can potentially derail a project and keep it from fulfilling both deadlines and customer expectations.
Too many HVAC manufacturers fail to embrace the importance of logistics; if the end user is dissatisfied, it could potentially lead to irreversible damage to reputations and a loss of future business for all concerned.
But what should contractors, engineers, project managers and end users look for in a HVAC product supplier? The answer is a manufacturer that makes their job easier.
The best way to approach it is to understand the customer’s goal – which is to have the fastest, cheapest and safest delivery of goods with the least headache and potential for things to go wrong.
Trucks delivering products around the country is just the final phase of a communication trail that ideally begins in the design process.
As soon as the HVAC supplier is involved, it should proactively understand the intricacies of the project. What materials are being stored and where? How and where are they being installed? How many phases are there? Can deliveries be split?
The expression “time is money” is particularly relevant to the construction industry. Because there is often a limited window of opportunity to complete installations, delivery needs to be punctual yet flexible in light of unforeseen circumstances that could cause delay. The obvious dilemma if a whole system is delivered late is that valuable hours could potentially be wasted – putting a significant strain on a project’s budget.
The “Amazon era” has had an effect on customer expectations, too. Customers now expect across the board quality and reliability from their delivery services.
Contractors and engineers are entitled to expect fully tested heat emitters and ventilation systems delivered exactly when they expect, supplemented where required by onsite commissioning support to prevent potential product faults that then result in costly delays.
Pre-assembly might not be the most desirable solution in all cases. Contractors often do not want stock cluttering the site before it is actually needed; it is a risk to health and safety, it could be damaged and it is a potential hindrance to the general efficiency of the project.
Manufacturers should allow customers to use a split delivery option so the site team can receive what they need in batches.
Brackets and heat emitters could be delivered early on in the build for immediate installation, before the radiators’ protective casings are delivered later on, as and when they are required.
HVAC manufacturers often fail to appreciate the value customers place in logistics – often to the detriment of their bottom line. The measures above should be instilled in the minds of engineers and contractors, providing a complete logistics solution to streamline purchasing, installation and commissioning.
How quickly and reliably goods are delivered can be the difference between retaining customers and losing them. Customers are entitled to be aggrieved if it is a service that cannot be provided.
Phil Marris is managing director at Jaga Heating Products UK