(by Mike Sheehan)
As a CSI Professional, when you plan an extremely large concrete placement, have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes to get the product there efficiently? Take for example, a large commercial floor placement that equates to 40 loads of concrete delivered to your site. Do you imagine 40 trucks lined up with specific spacing to service your order that day? Actually, a concrete supplier with a 30 truck fleet can service you AND other customers. How can that be? Let’s take a look.
Like everything else in life, we have computer programs in the concrete industry to help us stay organized. Concrete Dispatching, like Aircraft Dispatching, is a game of logistics. If you have information made available to the Dispatcher that helps him or her anticipate “the next move”, you can keep your fleet moving fluidly from one job to the next, which is so important when you supply a product that undergoes a chemical reaction as soon as it enters the truck. So what is the information and how is it provided?
Concrete dispatchers need to know the mixer trucks “status”. Things like “location”, “loading”, “washing”, “to job”, “on job” and “pouring”, are key status’s that help the dispatcher plan their next move. This information is made available from switches placed on different locations of the truck which are transmitted back to Dispatch via Satellite Tracking. This not only gives real time updates to the Office, but also allows the driver to focus on the task of driving and minimizes radio calls. The tool also assists the Driver, providing GPS Mapping for each delivery, and contains directions, as well as specific ticket information.
With proper planning and accurate information, a good dispatcher will utilize his fleet efficiently, and can calculate the truck demand for each job. The example I gave earlier, of a 40 load project, might only require 15 trucks cycling from 1 or 2 plants. That leaves 15 other trucks available to service other customers.
The Ready Mix Concrete Industry, in some ways considered low tech, has taken advantage of the technology made available by software designers who specialize in our specific needs, and it’s taken us to a new level both with product quality and delivery efficiency. Oh, and when the power goes out and the generator fails……we still know how to use a pencil and paper.