The procurement of building materials has been an ongoing headache for real estate construction firms over the past several years, and the problem has only gotten worse in recent months due to the surge in prices fueled by inflation and supply chain disruptions. Indeed, according to a poll conducted by Dodge Data & Analytics, approximately 70% of civil contractors say the dramatic cost increases affecting construction materials — such as lumber, asphalt and metal joists — have affected their timelines for the completion of projects. So much so, more than 3 in 4 are worried about the extent to which rising prices will affect their work schedules in the months ahead.

Contractors remain hopeful, however, that state-of-the-art technology will enable them to locate the suppliers that have the items they need, so projects can get off the ground and completed in a timely fashion.

The tech tools builders are using
One such company leveraging tech is Graham Construction & Engineering. As reported by Supply Chain Dive, the Calgary, Ontario-based developer, which builds both in Canada and the United States, is using a tracking solution that's produced by SAP. Called, the software allows users to identify where they can go to find the resources their project calls for in the appropriate quantity. Most of the structures that Graham Construction & Engineering builds are for commercial use.

Matt Gramblicka, who serves as vice president of information technology and enterprise applications at Graham Construction & Engineering, told Supply Chain Dive that the solution helps to eliminate guesswork by increasing transparency.

"It's really about having visibility into where that market shift is, and making sure that we have the right connections with people to actually get the supply in the first place," Gramblicka explained.

He added that previously, you had to actually talk to someone to get the materials, often in person. Being able to do it all electronically now is a game changer because "you know where things are and how it is getting there."

Lumber prices have skyrocketed, and certain types are difficult to locate.Lumber prices have skyrocketed, and certain types are difficult to locate.

Construction Intelligence Cloud Service
Another developer finding success with tech is Pepper Construction. Headquartered in Chicago, Pepper Construction has experienced the longest delays with materials such as precast wall panels and steel bar roof joists; the demand for these items exploded in 2020 and it continues. However, the Midwestern developer has been able to procure these materials through an intelligence cloud service from Oracle. Called the Construction Intelligence Cloud Service, Oracle's latest innovation helps builders and project managers identify where materials are in the supply chain and what companies have had them available in the recent past.

Oracle Vice President Burcin Kaplanoglu said the solution gives construction companies more options and context so they can make smarter buying decisions.

"You can look at their relationships with suppliers, see how much they communicate, even see the amount of requests for information they've had. Those are the tools our customers are starting to use," Kaplanoglu told Supply Chain Dive.

While these technologies may not completely resolve procurement problems, users say they're helping them cope with economic realities so they can work more efficiently. 

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