Construction businesses are being tasked to provide similar experiences that consumers receive when ordering from large eCommerce platforms. Today’s truck tracking and telematics systems show owners and operators all kind of information at the palm of their hand. With just a click of a button, they can understand the geographical location, engine diagnostics, and provide workforce management capabilities that simplify delivery professional workflows and optimize fleet operations.
Chandler Concrete Company
In 1973, a concrete construction business called R.F. Kirkpatrick was bought by Tom Chandler, placing the foundations for what we know today as Chandler Concrete Co. Inc. (Chandler Concrete). Ever since their start in 1973, Chandler Concrete has been a family-owned and operated business. Now, they have 41 concrete plants and 2 block and hardscape plants in Virginia. They also have one building supply operation in Salisbury, North Carolina, extending their services to three different states; North Carolina, Virginia, and Eastern Tennessee are their main operating areas.
One Single Point of Control to Meet Production Requirements!
For several years, many of Chandler Concrete’s plants were running old versions of batching software. Most of their locations in Virginia were running with Eagle batch systems and their other locations were running with Alkon Spectrum batch systems.
Peter McDaniel, Communications Manager, is responsible for all of Chandler Concrete’s communications, as well as everything that pertains to Command Alkon’s products and services, whether that be COMMANDseries, COMMANDbatch, or TrackIt. He is on the front lines of installations, updates, and upgrades. In the last 2-3 years, Peter and his team have done 20 batch upgrades, just recently finishing 10 Eagle conversions. Now, all of Chandler’s 41 concrete plants are running with the latest version of COMMANDbatch automated batching software. Chandler Concrete’s tolerances that they set for themselves are tighter than what is required by the state. With COMMANDbatch, it’s easy for them to maintain those tolerances.
Now that they are using the latest version of the system in their plants, they have seen a difference in their throughput speeds, cycle times, and precision – especially in their new plants. They recently put up a new plant just outside of Burlington, and with COMMANDbatch they are able to batch a 10-yard load in under three minutes. They are shooting to extend this kind of efficiency across all of their ready mix operations.
Around 2010, Chandler Concrete decided that their operation could benefit substantially by implementing a GPS and telematics solution to keep up with the volume of trucks and materials that were leaving their plant. Since they use COMMANDbatch for their automated batch controls and COMMANDseries to schedule their orders, it just made sense to integrate with Command Alkon’s solution for truck tracking.
Improving Efficiencies and Effectiveness with GPS Solutions
About 200 ready mix trucks and 40 other support trucks makes up Chandler Concrete’s fleet. In 2011, Chandler Concrete was using old push button status boxes and two-way radios to track the status of their trucks. One channel on the radio was for voice, and the other channel was for data. Each time a delivery professional pushed a button, the radio would switch from the voice channel to the data channel to send the status and then switch back to the voice channel. This method caused a lot of issues because if a radio got on the wrong channel, then they would hear the data on the voice channel and would not be able to hear the voice at all. A GPS solution proved to be the most logical solution.
When Chandler Concrete first implemented TrackIt back in 2011, they bought flip phones from Verizon, loaded the TrackIt application on it, and let the app do its thing. The implementation and training processes were both easy because at the time there wasn’t much to it.
They moved from the flip phones to Android smartphones – purchasing about 200 Android smartphones for the ready mix side of their operations. They have around 40 tablets in their transport trucks, block delivery, and building supply vehicles.
Chandler Concrete is always looking to improve their operations with the latest technologies. They are currently in the process of switching out the 200 Android phones to tablets in the cab of the truck in an effort to go paperless through the use of mobile ticketing.
Visibility Benefits Dispatch, Delivery Professionals, and Customers
The Time & Attendance module for TrackIt was something that really attracted Chandler Concrete to the solution. In 2011 they were still using time clocks but were looking for a better, more streamline approach to managing time. All hourly employees now have the capability of clocking in and out using a company owned mobile device or from a pc in any of Chandler’s offices or plants. The Time & Attendance module saves Chandler Concrete a lot of time, effort, and money.
TrackIt helps them keep tabs on where their ready mix delivery professionals are at all times during their deliveries. Once the ticket is created and assigned to a truck in COMMANDseries, the delivery professional can see the ticket information from their mobile device. Now if the delivery professional is sitting in the truck or the break room and has their mobile device, they instantly know that there’s an order that needs to be delivered.
Chandler also uses TrackIt to track all of their transport trucks, tankers, block delivery trucks, building supply trucks, and some of their plant maintenance vehicles. Electronic logs and reporting on HoS compliance increases their delivery professionals’ productivity and reduces or eliminates excess paperwork and processing times.
Like most in the industry, Chandler Concrete is having a difficult time finding qualified people. Fortunately, their demand is still high, meaning the current delivery professionals – as well as all other employees – are having to work extremely hard to support the volume of orders that Chandler Concrete receives on a daily basis. A tool like TrackIt keeps trucks moving so that there is less idle and waiting time and helps cut down on administrative time so that everyone can get back home as quickly as possible after their shift.
Having more visibility into the location of their trucks is the biggest benefit that Chandler Concrete sees with TrackIt. Their dispatchers, salespeople, and managers can pull up TrackIt and see how many trucks are on the job and where the trucks are rather than just guessing.
“The old joke was whenever you call a ready mix company and ask where your truck is, the standard answer is it's on the way. Now, we really do know where the truck is. We can give the customer good, accurate information.”
- Peter McDaniel, Communications Manager at Chandler Concrete
Planning and scheduling is easier for dispatch when they can look at the TrackIt screen and see how many trucks are on the way back, where they are going to, how far they are going, where they are and when they will return. The tool makes it easier to make changes on the fly, which happens daily in the ready mix industry. Since Chandler Concrete has many plants spread out over a large area, they can see if their trucks are closer to a different plant to get loaded out of for their next delivery. They move their trucks around often, but they wouldn’t be able to without a solution like TrackIt.
Now that all of the batch upgrades are out of the way, Peter is placing his focus on moving everyone who uses TrackIt over to tablets. Soon, they are going to implement Command Alkon’s MOBILEticket solution, which will remove the need for delivery professionals having to fill out paper tickets and their next ticket is displayed on their tablet as soon as they submit the existing ticket. With real-time access to ticket data in the cab, delivery professionals can easily note additions and changes, and they don’t have to go back and enter the data into the billing system.
For those that are not using MOBILEticket, the solution creates an electronic document that is distributable via email without scanning. Customers receive an email of their ticket immediately in the office alerting them that the material has been delivered so that they aren’t waiting on jobsite personnel to capture electronic proof of delivery.
MOBILEticket provides seamless integration with other systems, allowing data to be routed from dispatch to the delivery professionals, removing the need for delivery professionals to contact dispatch for questions on their tickets. The reduction in radio traffic increases delivery professional efficiency and allows dispatch to focus on coordinating schedules and getting orders into the system.
Keep up with Chandler Concrete by visiting their website.