The logistics of construction supply chains: the builders' merchant perspective

Christos Vidalakis (School of the Built and Natural Environment, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK)
John E. Tookey (School of Engineering, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand)
James Sommerville (School of the Built and Natural Environment, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Publication date: 11 January 2011



The purpose of this paper is to consider the applicability of logistics management in construction and facilitate a better understanding of construction supply chains by studying the logistical functions of builders' merchants.


Given that logistics application in construction is still in its infancy, conceptual understanding of the problem is a prerequisite. Thus, a grounded theory approach is followed utilising pre‐existing data as a means of building a model faithful to evidence. The model is analysed by following a discrete‐event simulation modelling approach.


This research demonstrates that examining supply chains from a logistics viewpoint can provide significant insight into the performance of construction supply chains. The analysis also shows that logistics costs are exponentially related to the levels of material demand and number of vehicle movements.

Research limitations/implications

The developed model has to be further investigated and tested for different scenarios. Supplementary refinements of the model are necessary in order to allow the generalisation of the results and the development of an analytical planning tool.

Practical implications

This research illustrates the increased potential of construction for benefiting from an improved capability within logistics which can lead to further developments within the field of logistics in the industry.


This paper considers the significant function of builders' merchants in the supply chains in order to balance the contractor‐centric research efforts that dominate existing literature and take into consideration the holistic nature of supply chain management and its operational aspects.



Vidalakis, C., Tookey, J. and Sommerville, J. (2011), "The logistics of construction supply chains: the builders' merchant perspective", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 66-81.

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