Concrete Products


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 48 of 73 August 2019 • 47 FEATURE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY Concrete Supply Co. equips account managers and customers with mobile apps to ensure concrete deliveries run smoothly and issues are dealt with as they happen. CEO Henry Batten wants to give drivers real-time analytics straight to their cab or iPad to better understand how their performance is affecting the next scheduled load(s). "Our sales and operational managers now use mobile devices and laptops to manage the quoting process anytime, from anywhere. They can review orders on their screens and send a quick text to dispatch with notes attached to the order," says Batten. Just as important, the more simplified workflow freed up dispatch- ers' schedules—and phone lines—as they no longer had to act as gatekeepers. Instead, they could concentrate their efforts on sched- uling deliveries to maximize truck usage and navigating the hurdles that can impact timelines and load performance. Like bad weather and traffic congestion. Another issue was that customers averaged seven phone calls to the company per order, including calls to check on truck and load statuses. Those status checks added up, taking account managers and dispatchers away from higher-level work and stealing valuable min- utes from contractors working in the field. Concrete Supply was able to reduce the number of calls by placing a mobile app in customers' hands, giving them the transparency needed to monitor their orders from batch to pour out. Customers can look up job tickets and track their concrete orders—and the trucks delivering them—in real time. "We've given them a window into the logistics of their order and how it's being executed at any given moment," Batten affirms. GROWING WITH TECHNOLOGY "Everything we've done has been incremental and has depended on the technology available to our industry," says Batten. "We started with fine-tuning our internal processes, and as the technology evolved and new vendors came on the market offering more options, we shifted our focus externally to enhance how customers can interact with us." As an example, the first mobile app the company used gave cus- tomers visibility into their orders, but it did not allow them to place or adjust orders. Concrete Supply has since migrated to a fully integrated application that lets customers complete transactions from their smartphones and tablets. Contractors can compare ordered versus actual truck spacing and reschedule trucks as job conditions change. Or, when the app sends an alert that the last load is on its way, the contractor can take measurements to determine if more concrete will be needed. If so, an order can be placed immediately, through the app. "From there, it will take us a minute to make that change," says Batten. "That's a lot faster than having to step away from work to make a phone call. The speed at which a bump load order can be placed and delivered is important because the crew is standing idle waiting to finish the job and the concrete that has already been poured is drying." Next, Batten plans to focus on driver performance. The company issues tablets to all drivers so they can view job tickets and sched- ules and communicate with dispatchers. The end goal, however, is to give drivers the tools to understand expectations for each load and how slow turnarounds and delays affect the performance of the next scheduled load(s)—and the contractors waiting on those loads. "If we give them that understanding of how they can help improve business, and supply what they need to be successful, they'll do it." According to Batten, many companies will give drivers weekly printouts measuring their performance against industry benchmarks. "I don't think that's useful. I want to give them real-time feedback on how they're performing during their workday so they can make adjustments as needed—or communicate to dispatch why the job is being held up. I want them to visually see where they are in the cycle. The technology is not there yet to provide those real-time analytics in the cab or on the tablets, but it's coming. We're working with our provider to develop a solution." Continued on pages 48 PHOTO: Concrete Supply Co.

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