Consider Early Supplier Involvement (ESI) for Collaborative Project Delivery

When considering your design-build team, most professionals focus on two primary components for success: designer and constructor.

Some of the strongest DB teams are formed when key supplier and specialty members are incorporated into the team at the beginning. This is clearly counter to the accepted practice of competing “commodities” once design is complete and before construction starts.

Does the supplier bidding step during the design-build process truly generate best value for your clients and foster relationships for current and future projects?

Consider the time requirements and associated costs of dividing scope into bid packages, advertisement, pre-bid meetings and responding to questions, bid receipt, normalizing, scoring, review, and potential interviews, eventually resulting in contract negotiations. Corresponding costs are realized by the competing subcontractor and supplier community on each bid package as well.

When a supplier with an established inventory of common component needs can provide local, reputable managers and representatives committed to your project’s success, the benefits of early supplier engagement with a DB team can be infinite.

A multi-faceted distributor can add value to the following:

  • Pre-design concept layout and materials selection
  • Risk identification and mitigation relating to supply chain logistics
  • Expedited awareness of component availability and lead/delivery times
  • Materials staging and off-site inventory management for just-in-time delivery
  • Local knowledge of specifications, preferences, and history of product offerings
  • Significant cost and schedule savings by eliminating procurement steps while streamlining and optimizing materials management

An established supplier with a history of solid and reliable performance can be a valuable addition to your team and should result in early and frequent ROI throughout the process. This can range from additional perspective in challenging design concepts to take-off and estimating services that allow for quantity comparisons and accuracy. Suppliers and vendors will be some of the first to learn of key market indicators and influencers to future material cost increases or decreases. Reputable distribution is active and involved early in the design process and throughout every step of the project. They are not done until the last item is delivered, placed in service, and has met warranty performance requirements in accordance with the contract documents.

As we collectively aim to optimize collaborative-delivery processes and remove wasteful steps to maximize end-user value, it is critical to challenge some of our most widely used and expected processes, including materials procurement and supply chain logistics.

Design-builders have stated that the strong suit of a multi-faceted supplier/distributor is the depth and breadth of material options they can provide, in addition to familiarity with products and manufacturers. Reputable supplier partners can take control of supply scheduling, ensuring that materials are sequenced and available on-site as required.

For design-build success, focus early on how to utilize a multi-faceted distributor to help improve accuracy on budget numbers, and provide and educate DB contractors on alternate materials and VE opportunities. The distributor’s proficiency is in representing the DB team with multiple vendors to coordinate best value materials delivery practices, managing price fluctuations, new technologies and products, and adding true value from the supply side.


About Bob Vicini, Director, National Sales, Treatment Plant at HD Supply Waterworks

Topics: Collaborative Delivery, Core and Main, Design-Build.

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