While price and product play important roles in staying one step ahead of the competition, they’re not the only two differentiators that business leaders should stay focused on. Unfortunately, most leaders in the Heavy Building Materials industry aren’t taking full advantage of the benefits a top-notch customer experience can bring to their company. One reason why returns have been tough to come by for most companies is the challenges presented by cultural and operational changes.
Digital tools enable a personalized experience and help companies to adopt a data-driven mindset to eliminate silos. One Command Alkon customer implemented several technologies that helped to reposition their organization as customer-centric to reap the rewards of a top-notch customer experience.
Ultracem is dedicated to the production and marketing of cement and concrete with presence in Colombia, Panama, Honduras and Guatemala. The company is an innovative organization, highly committed to meeting the needs of their customers and business partners.
Ultracem and their product is the product of choice by most large contractors. They currently have concrete production plants in Barranquilla, Santa Marta, Cartagena, and are present in the large infrastructure projects of Columbia. In fact, their products were used on the largest highway infrastructure project in Colombia, the Pumarejo Bridge.
In 2017, Ultracem received the business merit award that recognizes it as one of the best companies in the industrial sector country-wide, awarded by the Simon Bolivar University; and was also recognized by FENALCO for its social responsibility programs which have allowed the development of the communities where the company operates, benefiting more than 13,000 people.
Automation Helps to Create the Perfect Batch
All of their plants are fully automated with COMMANDbatch, Command Alkon’s automated batching system. The system has the ability to alert staff members when a batched material is out of tolerance, or an operator has added too much water to the mix, and has exceeded the maximum allowable water/cement ratio. COMMANDbatch systems use a sequencing engine that is unparalleled in the Industry, making each load more accurate and efficient.
Efficiency Realized with Innovative Technology
But, even with fully automated plants, Ultracem faced great challenges; qualified personnel, improving plant efficiency, loading times, product compliance, resistances and concrete optimization.
With Command Alkon’s support, Ultracem has made significant improvements in overcoming these challenges. It’s not only about the automation of the plants, it's also about changes and improvements to their processes to be able to get the best out of the software and assets.
Ultracem improved the quality of their product with the help of sensors that are part COMMANDbatch’s Precision Water System. The Precision Water System (PWS) is a solution that combats the issues that excess moisture in aggregates can have on the quality of concrete. PWS can help to eliminate wet loads, keep a history of moisture samples and bake-out pairs, reduce in yard time, and avert risk and waste. This technology allowed Ultracem to be more precise when batching and arrive to the slump required by the customer.
Command Alkon Solutions Make a Huge Difference in Ultracem’s Lines of Business
Ultracem quickly learned that they needed to implement a system that would streamline their operation and meet the requirements of their customers. They adopted COMMANDseries and were able to integrate their business and commercial systems, as well as obtain a complete view of their operation. The system allows them to share data across all aspects of the enterprise in order to improve their efficiency. Now, tickets flow through to their billing and receivables systems automatically, which enables them to make more timely decisions. Ultracem is also able to integrate their COMMANDbatch plant automation systems and their COMMANDqc quality control solution with COMMANDseries.
With the help of COMMANDseries, Ultracem is able to offer a customer-adjusted schedule and ensure their trucks arrive on time to the job sites. Today, they keep record of all the indications and recommendations agreed with customers, technical or quality support commitments, time restrictions, download permits, and all other relevant information for optimal operation and customer service; and all corresponding notifications are known to dispatchers and drivers through mobile solutions.
Logistics and Reporting
Ultracem’s goal is to arrive on time to their customers, and with truck tracking and telematics, 96% of their drivers arrive at the promised time. With TrackIt, they monitor their trucks, fuel consumption, travel speed, the clocking in and out of their drivers. They can keep track of the drivers’ work hours; hours and cubic meters per trip, per customer, per mixer and per project. They can also determine the productivity of their trucks.
“We have significantly improved the fulfillment of timely arrivals and in turn the satisfaction of our customers; at such level, that they prefer us over the competition given the punctuality of our services.”
- Luis Oviedo Conrado, Director of Concrete Scheduling and Dispatch, Ultracem
Other solutions that they have acquired include MOBILEticket, MOBILEcommerce, and MOBILEjobsite. MOBILEticket helps Ultracem reach their environmental and administrative efficiency goals through electronic invoicing and removing paperwork. In 2015, they adopted MOBILEcommerce to allow their customers to schedule their orders through their computers, know the status of their orders, locate their delivery on a map, know which concrete is being carried, arrival times, loading times, etc.
In 2018, they added MOBILEjobsite to further complement MOBILEcommerce. MOBILEcommerce gives their customers access to information and MOBILEjobsite allows them to access it via their smartphones. This visibility has been extremely beneficial for their customers, but also benefits Ultracem’s operation because it allows them to have access to scheduling information of all of their customers, records, flexible reports in Excel of the past, present and future, notifications, loading reports, loading times, etc. all from their mobile devices.
In 2015, Ultracem invested in COMMANDqc with concrete and aggregate sampling modules. In 2016 they added modules for management and mix adjustment. With this, they can make design adjustments and raw material changes practically in real time, achieving greater reliability and record-keeping for analysis and optimizations. In 2017 they purchased the mix import module to bring the mixes from Excel to COMMANDqc. This step allowed them to fully migrate to design management through COMMANDqc, closing up any possibility of making manual adjustments and achieving optimal efficiencies and reliability. Finally, in 2018, they implemented the Production Analysis module.
“This tool has a world of possibilities. Every day, the tool becomes more useful for solutions from a quality standpoint. When the parameters applications are really defined, COMMANDseries in conjunction with COMMANDqc becomes a versatile tool for any company in the market that employs these applications.”
- Ronald Ruiz, QC Manager and Luis Oviedo, Director of Concrete Scheduling and Dispatch, Ultracem
The system has allowed Ultracem to handle variation coefficients of less than 10%, which allows them to reduce costs significantly. COMMANDqc helps them to advance in their path of optimizing and improving designs, while making their operation more cost-efficient.
Ultracem and Command Alkon’s Relationship Fosters Abundant Opportunities
“We’ve constantly seen results since we started working with Command Alkon’s support; it took us 2 years to reach the level of development that we have today. There were many changes and adjustments in the way we've been doing things, implementing good practices and training. All while knowing that Command Alkon had our backs.”
- Susana Maria Pena Vega, Supply Director, Ultracem
New opportunities and new projects are always on the horizon for Ultracem. They are constantly learning about the possibilities offered by each software that Command Alkon helps them to implement. Ultracem’s decision makers are constantly thinking of proposals, changes and what Command Alkon can provide as improvements to the operation. This allows them to remain at the forefront of technological proposals.