Knight’s Septic Tank started out in 1969 with just one pumping truck and has evolved over the years to Knight’s Companies – a combination of Knight’s Redi-Mix, Knight’s Precast, Knight’s Trucking, Knight’s Pumping, Tekna Corporation and Sovereign Steel. For more than 50 years, they have demonstrated quality, product assurance, and dedication to customers by assuring their products meet expectation and that their staff is professional and involved throughout their customers’ experiences.
The company has been family owned and operated from the start and welcome their employees and customers as members of the family! Families take care of each other, so it’s no wonder that Knight’s Companies would make it their mission to provide perfection to customers and empower their 350+ employees with the tools needed to be successful. One of the ways they do this is by implementing innovative, next-gen technology solutions into their processes and workflows.
Customer Experience is the Pulse of the Business
A remarkable customer experience is crucial to the sustained growth of any business. Knight’s Companies hasn’t grown and expanded into new markets out of pure luck. A positive customer experience has promoted loyalty, helped them retain customers, and encouraged brand advocacy.
Today, customers have the power; therefore, Knight’s Companies makes it their priority to set themselves apart from the competition by delivering a product that creates confidence in their customer that they are receiving exactly what they ordered and that it is delivered in the time that they ordered it.
“One of our industry friends, Wayne Davis Concrete in Tallapoosa, Georgia, shared their experience with concrete telematics systems and how this solution has helped them to deliver a better product to their customer in the field, and improved their operations with plant managers and batch personnel,” said Rick Barfield, Quality Control Manager at Knight’s Companies. “We knew we could improve operational efficiencies and product quality with a solution like this, so we made the decision to roll it out to 90 of our trucks.”
Insights to Improve Operational Efficiency, Product Quality, and Rapport
The system, COMMANDassurance, captures real-time and historical material science data on the concrete properties of a load from the time of loading through placement, slump, temperature, volume, drum rotation, and other information that summarizes the overall workability of the concrete.
These notifications and displays indicate when the load is ready to leave the yard, when it is ready for discharge, how much water was added, and other key factors. The result is saved delivery costs for construction professionals and less time spent performing adjustments in transit and conducting tests while at the jobsite.
The data goes to the cloud and is then distributed to various users. When the batch system is loading the next load, it can make better decisions by using information from the prior load's slumps and how much water was added in transit. Historical and real-time data is readily available to all who have access to it, including customers.
Getting Going with A Little Help from Friends
Knight’s Companies’ homebase in Summerville and Charleston served as the testing ground for COMMANDassurance. Before implementation, the company was fortunate enough to spend some time with Wayne Davis Concrete to get some insight into effective implementation strategies. Wayne Davis has been a COMMANDassurance customer for a couple of years, so they were able to discuss some of the challenges that they experienced, such as driver push back, and provide some advice for how to get ahead of it.
They decided one of the best ways to do that was to implement lead driver committees two months prior to the first install so that they could discuss the solution in depth, what the goals are, what the solution will do for the company, what this solution means for their customers, and what to expect when training drivers. Having those initial onboarding meetings really helped them get buy-in from their drivers.
“When implementing COMMANDassurance, we were concerned that there would be more struggles with senior batch guys and senior drivers, but to our surprise, our employees were pretty accepting of the system,” said Rick Barfield, Quality Control Manager at Knight’s Companies. The product is proven, so everyone got on board very quickly and there were limited issues.”
Another surprise during implementation was how seamless it went despite one very distinct challenge. When it comes to COMMANDassurance, Command Alkon has more experience with rear-discharge trucks. Knight’s Companies is predominantly a front-discharge company. To accommodate their trucks, the probes were installed in the middle of the drum, rather than towards the back.
Decisions Supported by Data
They started out with using the solution for projects on the residential side, but as their familiarity and comfortability with the product increased, they began to roll the solution out to some of their commercial jobs.
Out of the gate, Knight’s Companies realized how accurate COMMANDassurance is in monitoring slump, temperature, volume, drum rotation, and water-to-cement ratio.
“One of the most surprising things about COMMANDassurance was how accurate it is, because with any new system, you always expect some inherent margin of error,” said Chris Dennis, Production Manager at Knight’s Companies. “When our QC did plant or load checks, the system would be within a quarter of an inch on slump, and it accurately tracked temperature of the concrete. That has come in handy because it allows us to make early calls on whether we need to add stabilizer, retarder, ice, chilled water – it gives us the real-time information that allows us to make those adjustments quickly.”
Consistent Product, Consistent Customer Service
Early on, Knight’s Companies realized the time saved through the point of load to the point of delivery.
“A lot of the benefit that we have seen so far have been increased proficiency at the plants, minimizing our wash down times, increasing driver proficiency in leaving the plant and on the jobsite, increasing turn times between jobs,” said Chris.
They have also realized value in having the materials arrive on the jobsite meeting the expectation of the customer.
“We had a lot of conversations with customers leading up to the implementation as to what we can provide to them while this solution is in work,” said Rick. “COMMANDassurance helps us not only as a ‘Knight’s tool,’ but as a customer tool also.”
Any changes that are made to the product while on the jobsite is fed back to production through the “Load Advice” button on their batch setup screen. The batch operator uses this data to make adjustments on loads for the same order so that they can eliminate time wasted on the jobsite. They fully expect that the reduction of time, lost loads, and materials will pay for the product.
“A major benefit of COMMANDassurance is that the information it collects flows throw production, to our QC technicians, sales, dispatch, drivers, and customers,” said Rick. “When discussions come up about what was delivered, what was placed, and who decided to add more water, the information is available in real time and having this at our disposal will give us an edge in the marketplace.”
COMMANDassurance is Everywhere Knight’s Needs It to Be
Knight’s Companies has eight technicians that cover three markets, and just eight people cannot be everywhere at one time. Thankfully, COMMANDassurance can be anywhere, which is an important piece of why Knight’s Companies decided to implement the solution.
Additionally, some of their customers are not always able to be onsite, so they are having to communicate with dispatch, sales, or QC technicians remotely. The ability to have timely, accurate information on a huge project puts Knight’s Companies in a good position because they are able to improve their operations, and their customers know that the product is going to be delivered in the specification that was called for, whether they are onsite or miles away from the job. There is always that assurance that they won’t waste time testing or lay concrete that has to be ripped up down the road.
“There’s benefits of the solutions that are more substantial – whether it’s a residential or commercial project – but at the end of the day, more so than anything, the solution allows us to deliver a quality-consistent product with having the data readily available to provide,” said Rick.
How could your operations be transformed with material science data at your fingertips? To learn more, visit www.commandalkon.com/getcommandassurance.