Last edited 17 Mar 2021

Construction inventory

An inventory is an itemised list or record of all current goods, materials and other assets which exist in a particular location at a particular time. It may also include their value.

The term inventory is more commonly used in the USA and Latin America than in the UK, where it may be referred to as ‘stock’ or ‘stockholding’.

In construction, inventory management is a means by which construction companies and suppliers can keep track of goods and materials, workforce, equipment, plant and so on. This is particularly important when a construction company has multiple projects to manage, as efficient scheduling of resources can be very complicated.

Numerous software packages are available to facilitate the process of inventory management; they can save time and effort, and so contribute to the profitability of contractors and suppliers.

A well-managed inventory can be critical to profitability as delayed, misplaced or lost items can incur avoidable delays and unnecessary costs. A project timeline, planned in advance, with a full inventory including the required materials, labour and equipment is a vital part of the project planning process.

This might also include:

For more information see: Logistics management.

NB The UN Procurement Practitioner's Handbook, produced by the Interagency Procurement Working Group (IAPWG) in 2006 and updated in 2012 defines inventory as: ‘Any material, component or product that is held for use at a later time.’

The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) Glossary of procurement terms, defines inventory as: ‘The stock of goods, materials or products.’ It defines inventory management as: ‘The process of ensuring the safe and efficient storage and control of stock, including managing demand and movement.’

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