Concrete Products

AUG 2018

Concrete Products covers the issues that attract producers of ready mixed and manufactured concrete focusing on equipment and material technology, market development and management topics.

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Page 51 of 71

50 • August 2018 FEATURE BY VICTORIA SICARAS We are living in a digital world in which the average person can use their smartphone or tablet at any given time to check their bank account, book a trip, shop for supplies and then track the status of their orders. As a result, many concrete contractors are expecting more from their ready-mix suppliers than in years past. They want to place orders from the jobsite without having to make lengthy phone calls. They want to know, to the minute, where concrete trucks are and when they will arrive. They want to review their order histories, change volumes or reroute trucks as jobsite conditions change—with just a few swipes of a finger. Many concrete producers are answering this demand for enhanced service and data by placing mobile apps directly into customers' hands—so they can view the information they need, when they need it, and make any necessary adjustments. Some producers are taking this visibility to the next level by implement- ing a fully integrated, cloud-based concrete dispatch system. By giving both dispatchers and customers real-time access to order information, the entire process of placing and fulfilling orders becomes more collaborative. "We all have supercomputers [smartphones] in our pockets. With them, we can now use one application to pull all the infor- mation we need to keep customers updated and concrete deliveries running smoothly," says Doug Smith, president of Smith Ready Mix Inc. in Valparaiso, Ind. The producer has already given many customers access to a mobile app developed by BCMI Corp. that allows them to request and track orders as well as view and download his- torical information for their own reports. To further improve customer interactions and its own operations, Smith Ready Mix is currently rolling out an integrated dispatch system from BCMI that stores data in a secure cloud server (note sidebar, page 52). Because the new system is fully integrated, it connects with other software the company uses to harvest all sorts of data—from product and pricing information to concrete mix designs to truck tracking and plant activity to customer history. With all relevant information immediately available, dispatchers have a 360- degree picture of each job, so they can schedule load deliveries and troubleshoot issues more efficiently. However, since Smith Ready Mix customers can keep an eye on their own orders via mobile app, dispatchers can now spend less time troubleshooting. "The new dispatch system frees up our staff," says Smith. "Instead of spending valuable time hunting down job tickets or relaying infor- mation on truck and load statuses, which customers can see easily through the app, we can spend more time building meaningful client relationships. They can focus on educating customers about our var- ious mix designs and value-add services or alerting them about bid opportunities. They can even perform predictive scheduling, in some cases, based on customer history." The Future of Dispatch Data is becoming the most important ingredient in concrete. The more information concrete dispatchers have at their fingertips—and can share with their customers— the more streamlined, accurate and profitable the process becomes. Many concrete produc- ers equip employees and customers with mobile apps that provide re- al-time data and "mobile office" capabilities. The quoting system devel- oped by BCMI (left, top) can be used on a mobile device, while integrating with a producer's dis- patch system. Users may prefer viewing certain features, such as a project opportuni- ty map (left, bottom), on tablets instead of smartphones. The larger screen makes it easier to view information and enter data. Producers and contrac- tors can also view an or- der timeline (right) on a smartphone or tablet.

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