Appian Empowers Building Suppliers to Optimize Their Operations

This content is made possible by our sponsors. Click here to add your content.

Appian Building Supply

Across the last year, building suppliers have faced a wide range of new and complex problems. From supply chain disruptions and material scarcity to labor shortages and increased costs, construction projects have taken hits from all angles. Even as builders start to catch up with demand, the average time it takes to start a new construction project has skyrocketed. According to Reuters1, in September, “the backlog of homes yet to be started increased 3.7% to 251,000 units, a record high,” and, “single-family homes yet to be started were near a 15-year high.”

- Sponsor -

On top of that, although the reported high prices of lumber have come down significantly, the costs of many other building materials and goods have increased dramatically. According to Construction Dive2, between January 2020 and January 2021, iron and steel prices increased by 15.6% and between January 2021 and August 2021, copper and brass mill products have increased prices3 by a whopping 23%. And prices continue to rise unpredictably, leading many contractors to employ more stringent contracts that account for the volatile markets and enforce escalation clauses4, allowing them to pass price increases on to owners or save them money; a rare practice in the past.

For building suppliers, the impact of these industry-wide  issues is compounded by underlying operational challenges. Scheduling is ad-hoc, time-consuming and poorly optimized. Inefficient routing means unnecessary miles, delays and customer dissatisfaction. Leveraging cost, performance and system data to gain vital analytical insights is an afterthought without the right structure and technology in place. And a lack of operational centralization and streamlining makes it difficult to address these problems even one at a time. All the while, dispatchers are run ragged trying to keep things on track, drivers encounter delays, and the cost of wasted resources adds up on top of prices.

As demand for materials continues to increase and market conditions stay volatile, it’s more critical than ever that suppliers deliver quickly and efficiently, and at the lowest cost possible. How can building suppliers already stretched thin navigate this difficult period and turn adversity to advantage?

Adopting modern technology solutions purpose built to the task is key. For a long time, dispatchers have depended on older methods and technologies to manage operations, track their fleets, and ensure on-time deliveries. But the challenges of today demand faster tools capable of optimizing your organization’s activities. Manually tracking your fleet’s activities is time consuming and introduces opportunity for unnecessary errors, and manual route planning might mean longer drive times, increased fuel consumption, and decreased productivity.

Appian5, from Trimble MAPS, is an all-in-one fleet routing and scheduling solution designed for distributors, private fleets and manufacturers. It’s built from the ground up to address the challenges building suppliers face, with a focus on strategic planning, optimized routing, and a variety of dispatcher tools that give real-time, analytic insight from departure to delivery.

Appian simulates a traditional back office white board or spreadsheet, but incorporates key data from throughout your organization to streamline operations in several important ways. Orders, vehicles and routes are easily edited, selected and assigned to dates and times of your choosing with a simple drag and drop interface. Vehicle maintenance and driver availability can be integrated into the calendar, so you can more quickly choose trucks and personnel for a route. Appian brings all of your most important operational details to the forefront in an easily navigated interface, so you don’t have to hunt down answers to important questions.

No matter who accesses the system, the data presented will stay current and consistent. Stakeholders across your organization will gain clear visibility on unloaded orders, route progress, and ETAs in a software environment purpose built for building suppliers. When a driver requests PTO, the dates will be logged in Appian as unavailable for that driver. As ETAs are adjusted due to changes on the road, the new times will be proactively updated in Appian for dispatchers. If a specialized vehicle requires maintenance, the down time will be accounted for so routes that require it can be scheduled for when it returns to your fleet.

But successfully planning and executing building supply deliveries depends on reliable commercial map data drivers can use to arrive at the right place the first time, every time. In addition to robust planning tools, Appian is built on PC*MILER map data, which includes more than 85,000 commercial locations. You can use Appian’s geocoding and Point of Interest (POI) capabilities to navigate your vehicles to building sites that might not yet have official addresses. And when your drivers finish unloading their cargo, electronic proof of delivery is automatically generated for stakeholders and customers, saving your team and customers unnecessary confusion. And tying it all together is our routing and scheduling algorithm, trusted for 30 years to analyze and consider every relevant factor to provide you the most efficient and cost-effective route schedules.

By tracking and optimizing so much information, Appian is able to give you a clear view of your fleet’s resource utilization, average service time, driver performance and more, enabling you to make changes where necessary and avoid unnecessary expense. The challenges of the modern building supply industry demand solutions built with intimate knowledge of how it works and how to support the fleets operating within it. Managing your fleet’s operations has never been easier than with Appian.

Click below to learn more and schedule a no-obligation consultation with an Appian specialist.




Stay Updated

Get our email newsletter with LBM industry trends, data, new products, and best practices.