Here in the mid-Atlantic region, new construction of homes and industrial facilities is a very common sight. But before those new structures are standing tall, the materials used to build them, like lumber and OSB boards, are typically stored in a warehouse. And if you’re looking for a warehouse for construction materials, working with a third-party logistics (3PL) provider may be a better option for your business than handling warehousing on your own. In this article, we’ll look at services that your 3PL can perform both inside and outside of the warehouse.
Warehousing for construction materials
Many 3PL providers specialize in the storage of lumber, OSB boards, solar panels and other heavy industrial products. When you partner with a 3PL for warehousing, there are two basic options. With public warehousing (or “shared warehousing”), you share a 3PL’s warehouse space and services with other companies, and you pay only for the space and services you need. With contract warehousing (or “dedicated warehousing”), your 3PL will dedicate an entire facility to your operation. With both models, your 3PL partner will manage your inventory, receive incoming product, and prepare outgoing product.
When it comes to the warehousing of lumber and construction products, there are a few key considerations in finding the 3PL provider best equipped to handle your products.
- Space: These products take up room – lots of it. As such you’ll need to find a 3PL that has ample warehousing space to support your operations now and in the future. Some construction materials can be palletized, while others like bundles of OSB boards are typically placed on runners and stacked upon each other, with the runners in between each bundle allowing for easy forklift access.
- Equipment: Depending on your products, your 3PL may need specialized equipment to handle it properly. For instance, the OSB boards often require a forklift with specialized forks that are thin enough to slide into the runners supporting each bundle.
- Experience: Heavy products are dangerous, especially when they’re stacked high in a warehouse. As such, you need to make sure that you’re working with a 3PL that has proven experience storing your products safely as well as adequately trained personnel to avoid personal injury and damage to your products.
Additional 3PL services for construction materials
In addition to warehousing, construction material companies can rely on 3PL providers for the following services.
Transportation services. In addition to storage and inventory management, a 3PL partner can help you get your products into and out of the warehouse and on the move to their final destinations. Such services include drayage, in which your 3PL receives your containers at the port and transports them to its warehouse for storage or to the final destination.
3PL transportation services, including flatbed trucking services, can also move your product between the warehouse and job sites. If inclement weather is expected, your 3PL can tarp lumber and climate-sensitive products to protect them from the elements. At Kanban Logistics warehouses, we can back flatbeds right into our facilities to keep product covered during loading or unloading.
Rail transloading. A construction material warehouse can be served by lower-cost rail as opposed to over-the-road trucking. At Kanban, for instance, our distribution campus in Rocky Mount, North Carolina is served by CSX rail. Our warehouse has rail siding to handle incoming or outgoing freight directly between the warehouse and rail cars. We also have a transload yard in which freight from center-beam cars can be unloaded or loaded.
While products are in transit, we can track rail movements through the CSX system. This allows us – and our customers – to stay informed as to when empty cars are coming in to be loaded and when loaded cars are coming in to be emptied so that we can perform either action quickly and return the cars to avoid demurrage.
Outdoor warehouse storage. Outdoor warehouse storage is storage of very specific types of products outside of the four walls of a warehouse, but on a warehousing provider’s property and under its care. This doesn’t mean that products are haphazardly thrown ‘out back.’ It means that the 3PL you’re working with has prepared space on its property to store certain types of products that can withstand the elements.
The main benefit of an outdoor warehousing that it’s cheaper than regular indoor storage. It’s also a good solution for large, weather-resistant products that require limited touches by warehouse associates (e.g., fiber optic cable, treated lumber, and certain types of metal-based products).
Lean on Kanban Logistics for East Coast Warehousing
With over 1 million square feet of warehousing space in Eastern North Carolina, Kanban Logistics has the space you need to store and protect products large and small. We specialize in the warehousing of large construction and industrial equipment like lumber and solar panels, and our ISO-9001 certification ensures that all our processes comply with the strictest quality standards. To learn more about partnering with a 3PL for the warehousing of your construction materials in the mid-Atlantic, contact Kanban today.