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 54 of 71 August 2018 • 53 FEATURE READY MIXED DATA-SHARING CREATES LOYAL CUSTOMERS On the customer service side, adding a mobile plat- form to a legacy system may provide contractors with some visibility into their order statuses, says Yeack, but many times it will not allow them to place or adjust orders. "They would still need to make a phone call to communicate changes and troubleshoot delivery issues. And they won't be able to take advan- tage of current and future advancements like BIM, self-quoting or artificial intelligence." When that information is stored in "the cloud," it can be accessed from anywhere via desktop computer or mobile device. This allows producers to give cus- tomers more insight into their order activities than ever before, thus reducing unnecessary phone calls to dispatchers. "Concrete producers who provide their teams and customers with easy access to their data offer cus- tomers real value," says Clyde Companies' LaNette Andrews. "Value that can increase our customers' revenue or help them cut costs. We're confident that this enhanced level of service binds our customers to us. They will see us as their go-to materials supplier." Doug Smith of Smith Ready Mix agrees. Although the producer is still rolling out its cloud-based dis- patch system, he has already witnessed customers using BCMI's mobile app to improve their perfor- mance, adding: "We've seen general contractors with multiple crews use the mobile app to benchmark their performance and ensure they are working efficiently. They can view when loads are ordered, when trucks arrive, if trucks have to wait or be turned away and if more loads are ordered. All this information can be easily analyzed to determine whether crews are mea- suring and ordering concrete correctly, and if sites are suitably prepped for pours when trucks arrive. From there, they're making adjustments to their own schedules and workflows." FUTURE OF DISPATCH, TECHNOLOGY Some concrete producers envision the future of dis- patch as mirroring the airline model; the price you pay for concrete depends on demand, with peak and off-peak prices. Some expect customer self-service to be the next step, with customers placing orders online. One thing is clear: Data is becoming the most important ingredient in concrete. The more informa- tion dispatchers have, the more streamlined, accurate and profitable the process becomes. Investments in technology will need to be made to effectively deliver that data. "Integration is key," says Andrews. "The previ- ous trend has been to continuously invest with one vendor or jeopardize workflow capabilities. But we need to be able to take advantage of all new technol- ogies without being limited to the offerings of one software vendor." To be truly impactful to all producers, she adds, technological innovations also need to require fewer hardware investments and more virtual solutions. "Producers are wary to invest in expensive hardware roll-outs that could easily be outdated before achiev- ing full return on investment." Smith sees cloud-based software solutions as a game-changing alternative to the more expensive in-house systems. "It's much easier to tap into tech- nology when you don't have to buy hardware or pay The BCMI product suite includes Truck Demand (middle) and Materials (above) mod- ules, and can run on any computer with Internet access. Its mobile apps give pro- ducers, their customers and vendors access to companywide data from smartphones and tablets. SCREEN CAPTURES: BCMI Corp. somebody to maintain it," he says. "The barrier to entry is much lower." Instead of large fixed costs, producers can budget for monthly subscriptions and maintenance fees. Smith also sees mobile technology as a critical next step for producers. Eventually, he says, operations will go completely paperless and mobile tools will be used to eliminate invoicing and calls to dispatch. "As we see generational changes in our customers, they will demand it more." Armed with more ways to tap into and share their data, materials producers like Clyde Companies and Smith Ready Mix are ready to meet this demand. — BCMI Corp. (Bulk Materials Construction Initiative),, Bellingham, Wash. Victoria K. Sicaras is a freelance writer based in Countryside, Ill. She has 13 years of experience as a writer and editor serving the construction industry. The BCMI dispatch system incorporates data from a producer's entire operation, in- cluding customer history, plant activity and billing.

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