Out-of-date methods tie up time, efforts, and budgets. Manual processes rely on human resources with human needs, making the process susceptible to operational bottlenecks. Automating processes decreases operational costs while increasing safety and product quality. Many tasks could be easily automated and further optimized. Yet, many operations are stuck in inefficiency because they aren’t aware of the alternatives available. Options are definitely out there – advanced technologies can do wonders for a business by minimizing downtime, increasing production and product quality, and reducing operational bottlenecks.
Hallett Materials, located in Porter, Texas, is a sand and gravel supplier. They have two facilities on the Trinity and the San Jacinto rivers, and a third facility in Hempstead. Their parent company, Rasmussen Group, is based out of Des Moines, Iowa, and specializes in asphalt, ready mix, bridge construction, windmill construction, and raw aggregates. The operation in Porter was established in 1981 to service concrete sand to the east side, Mont Belvieu, Houston market.
Streamlining Operations = Greater Profitability
Hallett Materials wanted to shorten the timeline between order and payment to speed up cash flow and improve customer service. They needed a comprehensive ticketing solution that could help them streamline operations from the scale house back to accounts receivable and payable.
Command Alkon’s Apex suite of products was exactly what Hallett Materials needed to close the gap between the scale and the back office. Apex manages business processes and streamlines the check-in, loading, and ticketing of trucks while connecting sales, office, and dispatch operations to improve efficiencies.
When combined with some site automation technologies, such as the Remote Printer Enclosure which enables drivers to stay in the cab of their trucks to pick up their ticket after it is printed, trucks can get back on the road more quickly, further expediting throughput. In Hallett Materials’ line of business, if a ticket is not signed, then that load is not getting paid for. To ensure each ticket has a signature, Apex offers a keypad that integrates directly with their scale ticketing. When the driver signs the keypad, his signature is automatically stamped on all four tickets. Now there is no debate when it comes to who is responsible for paying for the load, and Hallett Materials can produce a ticket immediately upon customer request.
Increase Speed and Accuracy of Loading Process
Hallett’s scale times have drastically decreased with Apex at play.
“We have been able to cut off about a minute and 15 second on scaling and throughput. For an operation that sees 300 trucks a day – that’s saving at least 300 minutes per day!”
- Wade Carroll, Sales Manager at Hallett Materials
They also implemented the All-Terrain kiosk in conjunction with the Auto ID module. This automation keeps drivers in the cab of their truck, making for a faster check-in time at the plant.
Now, there’s no need to enter the scale house to check-in. The Auto ID module supports attended and unattended ticketing operations, speeding up cycle times and freeing the weighmaster from routine ticketing tasks. With the All-Terrain Kiosk, all the driver has to do is swipe their card on the RFID reader or enter their truck number.
“It’s very simple for our drivers to get themselves checked in. They just enter their code, who they are hauling for, the customer, and where they are going. They are prompted to review the order and then sign a copy of the ticket. It's so much faster, and we don't have to wait for the driver to sign, give a paper back, then tear tickets.”
- Amber Strawn, Dispatch and Back Office Specialist at Hallett Materials
Much like New York City, Houston is a city that never sleeps, and there is a need for aggregate and other materials at all hours of the day. Because of the nature of their environment, Hallett Materials offers 24-hour service to their customer base, which sets them apart from the other materials providers in their market.
“We don’t have a large turn radius, and we would have trucks back up onto the county road, so we needed a solution to quicken our load times. We implemented the kiosk to streamline the check-in process, and that kiosk has allowed us to expand our operations to a 24-hour operation and helps us to space trucks out so that they are not sitting at the gate waiting for operations to start. We’ve been able to slowly spread that truck traffic out over a 24-hour period.”
- Wade Carroll, Sales Manager at Hallett Materials
With the All-Terrain Kiosk, Hallett Materials has seen their truck volumes increase at night because they have found that some hauling companies are optimizing their trucks to go pick up their loads at night and beat the Houston traffic in the morning time. Opening that avenue of productivity for their customers provides a win-win situation for both Hallett Materials and for their clients. It also simplifies the lives of their dispatch and back-office personnel.
“Our Dispatch and Back Office Specialist used to work five or six twelves a week. Now we’re able to improve their schedule and work-life balance.”
- Jake McCurry, Operations Manager at Hallett Materials
The process of exporting tickets from Apex is very fluent and adaptable to Hallett Material’s needs. They can see their tickets in PDF and Excel format and deliver them to inquiring customers. They can also transfer their tickets into their own systems on the back-end to review and edit.
Verification of the Weighing Process
The scale house at their new facility in Hempstead is completely built around Apex Scale Ticketing, Scale Watcher, and the All-Terrain Kiosk. They are also in the process of implementing the Scale Watcher feature of Apex at their Porter location.
Scale Watcher saves time and money by replacing the need to capture a signature at the point of sale. The system captures video and images of each truck, along with ticket data to verify that a truck was present at the time of pickup. Scale Watcher will act as an additional set of eyes on the scale and another way to reconcile a load at the Porter location, given that it is a high-volume facility and a 24-hour operation.
To learn more about our Apex suite of solutions, visit www.commandalkon.com/getapex.