How Can Businesses in the Cement Industry Drive Higher Revenues and Compete Effectively? By Streamlining Operations

October 12, 2018 Karli Langner

Remove Redundant Steps to Improve Efficiency

Many of us have a saying that rings true when it comes to our workflows: "time is money." A small business can achieve several financial and operational advantages from streamlining operations. You can save time, reduce costs, attract more customers through faster response and delivery times, increase profits, and outsmart the competition.

What Does This Look Like for the Cement Industry?

Automating the delivery process begins with a sale. Customers can order products virtually anywhere by using an online device such as a computer, tablet, or smart phone. Companies can collect the signature for the order on the device and let the customer know when they can expect delivery/pickup using an online tracking schedule or tool. Another option is for the customer to log in to a portal and place orders for the delivery/pickup of cement.

This has provided cement companies with a low-cost solution for managing the order process, reducing overheads, and increasing efficiency. Better management of the process has facilitated the smooth scheduling of deliveries or pickups of cement, which in turn has allowed plants and terminals to gain better control of their inventories and pickup times, therefore reducing costs.

Using an internet dashboard for customers to order a product, or cast out for freight pricing from freight companies, provides the input link for managing product distribution in a timely and efficient way. Once the orders are processed online, the plant/terminal can be prepared for the loading process, whether it is self-serve or operator loaded. Although the main financial component of most cement companies centers around SAP-style financial packages and large databases, which can mine the data for management review, many firms have made use of the third-party packages to manage the loading, scheduling and processes for the final load point of cement. 

RFID equipment tags are used to identify each vehicle as it arrives at the site. Tags can be either truck-mounted or can be swiped at a terminal or kiosk mounted at cab height. With truck-mounted tags, the vehicle is identified once it passes by the tag reader and the system can automatically control a “green light” to direct the driver to proceed to the kiosk.

At the kiosk, the driver can confirm his assignment on the terminal, or contact the loadout operator for changes. Once confirmed, the system will capture the tare weight and communicate the load ID and target weights to the loadout system. The system will update remote displays to direct the driver to the correct loadout lane.

The loader operator uses their Wireless Loader program to view all vehicles onsite to be loaded. The program provides all the information needed to load the vehicles from a touch PC or Blackberry mounted in the loader. After loading, a vehicle proceeds to the outbound scale and the vehicle’s RIFD tag is read again. The system captures the gross weight and initiates a “green light” for the driver to proceed to the remote printer stand to retrieve their ticket.

At the same time the ticket is printed, the Scale Watcher module captures video footage and a still image of truck license and side door view, with an overlay of key ticket information. These images are stored with the ticket, eliminating the need for driver signatures. All of this is done without the driver leaving the vehicle, without the scale person physically handling tickets, and without the loader operator handling paperwork or calls. The driver stays safe, the scale operator concentrates on servicing customer calls and managing the truck process, and the loadout operator remains focused on loading accuracy.

Connecting All the Moving Parts

Apex automation streamlines the business processes and operational tasks necessary to ticket and scale bulk products. Drivers can check-in, load, and ticket trucks without interruption. Advanced-scale ticketing software works in conjunction with simple site-automation technologies to deliver impressive improvements in the speed, efficiency, and safety of operations.

Connect your processes for sales, office, and dispatch when you combine the Apex ticketing, rail, and vehicle/order dispatch modules with a full range of tools for quoting, billing, reporting, performance analysis, and transportation management.

Site-automation technologies ensure seamless truck throughput with automatic truck recognition, driver kiosks and display, remote print enclosures, video verification of scale loading, antitheft modules, wireless loader systems, and more.

Anything you do in the office, you can do on the go. Sales and back-office modules for quoting, invoicing, receivables, inventory, reporting, and business intelligence ensure that information flows quickly and easily across your enterprise. All your processes are connected—from sales through dispatch and to the office.

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