All posts by Tim Dwyer

Streamline Business Processes by Integrating ERP With Sysdyne Cloud Product Suite

Streamline Business Processes by Integrating ERP With Sysdyne Cloud Product Suite

With over 40 plus years of servicing the ready-mix industry as a technology provider, we have witnessed the vast amount of resources and effort concrete suppliers devote to system integration. The benefit of fully integrated business platforms is obvious: it increases efficiency and reduces costs, boosts cash flow, and improves customer service. After all, it’s almost impossible to grow a business with outdated, disconnected, or manual-driven processes. However, it’s no easy task to integrate different technology platforms and have them speak together to automate the entire business process cycle, or is it? As some companies spend hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars integrating and maintaining multiple technological platforms, there exist elegant solutions to help streamline data workflow using the latest in technology. These standalone platforms include Concrete dispatch, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), CRM (Customer Resource Management) and payroll systems. Ready Mix producers face the daunting challenge of aligning raw material orders with production schedules, updating inventory in real-time, managing payrolls, and expediting the billing process while reducing potential invoice disputes. In fact, today’s senior management executives expect easier access to financial and business reports, based on real-time information to make important decisions.

 

Sysdyne’s development team uses the latest in cutting-edge technology
to ease the pain of integrating multiple vendor platforms.

 

Sysdyne is proud to help concrete producers, big or small, streamline their business processes while reducing the cost of integration. Our development team uses the latest technologies to ease the pain of integrating systems from different vendors. Our open API enables different software vendors and technology platforms to communicate and share information seamlessly. This creates huge value for the end-users who are no longer forced to purchase all their technology from a single source or vendor. Concrete suppliers can choose the best-of-breed technology that best meets their needs without worrying, will this work?

The integration between ERP and Sysdyne’s product suite, allows concrete producers to track material inventory in real-time and streamline payroll management. It also cuts invoicing time from days to minutes. Paperless tickets eliminate the cost of collecting and processing paper tickets. Accounts receivable can then easily access PDF versions of the tickets with a simple click of a button and attach them directly to the invoice.

The integration between systems allows concrete suppliers to break down inefficient work silos and become more agile in the way they manage and view information to make decisions. This means less time trying to consolidate data and more time taking advantage of real-time information to track, adjust and optimize operational performance. Faster, easier access to information from multiple sources reduces delays, improves decision-making capabilities, and allows producers to better project demand so they can deliver more with the same number of trucks. It also allows producers to keep their fingers on the pulse of their operations, from the time the order is taken to the time the invoice is emailed and collected from the customer.

Consequently, automating data movement between dispatch and ERP systems increases the company’s ability to gather precious insight into their operation’s performance and company’s profitability. By gathering information from dispatch and streamlining it into their ERP, it offers owners and operators the ability to track everything from wait times, driver utilization, and a host of other KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) that directly affect the bottom line. Consequently, productivity is improved and billing processes are simplified by leveraging the best that both dispatch and ERP platforms have to offer. By exploiting the unique features embedded in each system, producers are guaranteed strong results. Ready Mix dispatch will continue to do what it does best, allowing producers to optimize scheduling, ordering, and fleet performance. By combining the unique features of a proven ERP system to handle billing, AR, and accounting, producers are able to take full advantage of the specialized toolsets from each platform to drive profits higher.

Sysdyne has made it easier and less costly to integrate specialized software for concrete operations with ERP systems. These integrations allow ready-mix producers to gain significant efficiency and better insights to manage their business more effectively. The days of disparate systems not being able to communicate are gone. New integration technology is allowing our industry to break free from single vendor reliance and is paving a way into the 21st century.

Cloud Batch Saves Costs Using Real-Time Inventory: Blog by Henry Lee

Cloud Batch Saves Costs Using Real-Time Inventory

A Blog by Henry Lee


Henry Lee started working in the ready-mix industry back in 1996. He began as a field service engineer, installing batching systems across the different continents, and then moved into sales. With his engineering background and years spent in the service department helping customers, Henry knows what customers in the ready-mix industry need and expect.

The Evolution of Technology

Over the past 25 years, I had the opportunity to visit ready-mix operations in over 45 different countries. I have seen technology evolve at a rapid speed, with some countries adopting faster than others. The same can be said for ready-mix producers – some have embraced technology faster than others for various reasons.

“The enhanced ability of Cloud Batch to control the concrete batching process in real-time creates tremendous value and savings.”

– Henry Lee, Sysdyne Technologies

Technology has evolved from DOS operating systems to Windows, from dial-up modems to high-speed internet, from on-premise servers that can fill out a whole room to servers about the size of a normal CPU, from software installed on a local server to cloud-based solutions. However, even with the rapid acceleration of technology, the ready-mix industry faces one common problem and that is how to better manage material inventory (How to have real-time and accurate inventory control? How to have good inventory control to prevent the plants from running out of materials without overstocking?)

“Users can simply log in using any internet-connected device to monitor and adjust any load of concrete both easily and securely.”

– Henry Lee, Sysdyne Technologies

Cloud Batch can offer predictive maintenance interoperability with sensors to lower plant downtime. Users can manage mixes, constituents, customers, projects, orders, and tickets all in one place using a single powerful database for dispatch and batching to power advanced analytics that help decision-makers take action to improve their bottom line.

Real-Time Inventory

Most of the batch control use interface technology designed over 20 years ago have had very minor improvements during this period.

“This technology has prevented real-time access to valuable information in the batching system, including manual material consumption and incoming material receipt. Sysdyne understood the problem and wanted to help the industry to overcome this problem, hence the creation of Cloud Batch.”

– Henry Lee, Sysdyne Technologies

We knew if we could bring cloud technology to the batching system would resolve this problem, but we needed to overcome the roadblocks of delivering a reliable cloud batch solution that can work in all kinds of environments. I am extremely excited to say after years of R&D time, Sysdyne was able to overcome all the roadblocks to bring this project to the finish line. Pioneer Cloud Batch is the first batching system based on cloud technology, and it is the first system allowing users to connect from anywhere at any time without the need of VPN or remote desktop applications. Pioneer Cloud Batch gives you total control of your raw materials in real-time. Inventory is automatically updated as batch operators record material receipts and load concrete.

Future:

The evolution of the traditional batching system has been stunted by limiting access to the valuable data that resides within the system. The future of batching demands opens API access to database tables, easier access via a cloud connection, and a powerful database to track performance.

“Cloud Batch is revolutionizing the way we batch concrete. Soon, I can see complete process automation on incoming material.”

– Henry Lee, Sysdyne Technologies

For example, using our Cloud Batch API, raw material suppliers can send an eTicket of the delivery to the batching system and once the delivery truck traverses the destination plant geofence it will automatically register that delivery. Resolving inventory problems is just the tip of the iceberg of what Pioneer Cloud Batch can offer. I also see concrete producers in the future incorporating AI (artificial intelligence) to help with plant performance, plant predictive maintenance, and tracking worker behavior. The future of technology in the Concrete Ready-Mix industry is very exciting and I couldn’t be happier being part of such a great team who really do want to make a difference and push our industry forward.

Benefits of BIM (Building Information Modeling) for Concrete Producers

Benefits of BIM (Building Information Modeling) for Concrete Producers

Building information modeling, or BIM, is an intelligent 3D-model-based process and digital data workflow that provides professionals in the construction industry the tools and insights to be more efficient and collaborate on projects on a larger scale. In essence, BIM is a methodology that helps minimize delays and increase profits by leveraging digital forms of data to reduce re-work and save costs.

“The tools and technologies that support this process include cloud-based databases and mobile platforms to enable better communication and collaboration between project stakeholders.”

BIM touches every aspect of the construction lifecycle from the design to maintenance of buildings and infrastructure. Digital information can be shared among project stakeholders using cloud-based online portals to ensure timelines are met and budgets are respected. This intelligent process leverages the latest in technology and in some cases, reduces the human resources needed to operate smoothly. Location tracking using a concrete delivery management platform like iStrada allows BIM users to connect directly to the most recent concrete delivery data and make real-time decisions based on the most accurate and up-to-date information possible. Online KPI dashboards allow producers, contractors, and DOT inspectors to keep track of the delivery process and adjust their workforces accordingly. The electronic documentation created throughout the process including tickets, test results, and delivery performance metrics are stored in the cloud for easy access.

“The BIM process relies on reliable electronic data to work. Technologies such as Sysdyne’s Cloud Batch system supports this process by capturing both batch and dispatch production data to generate important business insights using reports and dashboards.”

The data itself is easily accessed using any mobile device with an internet connection. Strategic KPI or key performance indicators, measure production and delivery performance and feed into the same database that is easily queried in the cloud. The BIM digital loop is achieved using a single source of truth approach to storing electronic data on the cloud and accessing it either natively or using API technology.
Construction projects tend to deviate from the proposed budget, resources, and schedule. The value of BIM grows when project stakeholders collaborate using easily accessible online portals to not only track concrete delivery progress, but documentation as well. E-ticketing or Paperless ticketing helps create a digital workflow that increases efficiency, transparency, and accuracy. Delivery data on the ticket can include important information such as water added at the plant or job site, batch weights, and delivery cycle times.

“The transparency of the BIM process allows the producer and contractor to track the work, identify issues and adjust quickly to changes in resources and scheduling.”

Beyond the contractor, BIM provides a direct connection between the decision-makers and those who execute those decisions on the construction site. Onsite staff can track concrete arrivals using iStrada’s digital map and monitor the progress to stay on schedule and reduce delays. Paperless Ticketing is a key component in creating and tracing digital documentation. Inherently a paper-based process, digital tickets offer many benefits to both producer and contractor. Concrete producers can more easily retrieve ticket information to invoice clients quicker and reduce their DSO (Days Sales Outstanding), while contractors can enjoy the ease of use of downloading digital tickets themselves online. The amount of valuable information that can be captured and stored on a Paperless or digital ticket is exponential.

“The future of BIM, Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing is quickly converging on the construction industry allowing project stakeholders to imagine a more connected future where technology really can make their lives a little easier.”

In this new world of doing business remotely, strong communication and collaboration will remain key. The construction industry has only just begun to scratch the surface when it comes to leveraging the power of BIM to its full potential, but when project stakeholders adopt BIM processes throughout every stage of the building process, from design to construction to permitting, they can stay on track, hit budget goals and keep the entire team safe.

Innovation in the Construction industry: How Using Big Data Can Benefit Ready-Mix Producers

Innovation in the Construction industry: How Using Big Data Can Benefit Ready-Mix Producers

 

Let’s Begin With the Question: What is Big Data?

Big Data is a term that describes the large volume of data – both structured and unstructured – that inundates a business on a day-to-day basis. The volume of data is so large that it’s difficult or almost impossible to process using traditional methods. By taking advantage of the detailed information available through Big Data, Concrete Producers are provided the ability to generate better business insights and improve their bottom line. Big Data drives the ability to better understand business processes, operational efficiency, and customer interaction.
Big Data

Coupled with analytics, Big Data provides the power needed to make well-informed business decisions.

In the Construction Industry, Big Data typically refers to large quantities of information that is stored as historical data but continues to grow in size. The data itself can come from people, computers, machines, sensors, and any other data-generating devices.

Think of the amount of historical data that gets processed to then be shelved away in boxes over time – Has this data lost its value? The answer lies in our ability to easily access and analyze the data’s relevance to make an informed decision. For example, analyzing historical bid information and correlating the results with other data sets like competition and job location to build estimates that have a higher percentage of winning. Another example is using Sysdyne’s Cloud Batch database for both concrete Batch and Dispatch. Using a single database to house scheduling, delivery, and batch performance data to measure efficiency and profitability provides tremendous value to Producers. Other considerations, such as monitoring material consumption using real-time inventory, allows Concrete Producers to track and anticipate material shortages and make adjustments to save material costs. Inventory is automatically updated as batch operators record material receipts and load concrete using Cloud Batch.
 

As IoT (Internet of Things) becomes more prevalent within the construction industry, all data generated needs to be organized and stored in an accessible location for it to yield any real value.

A further example of leveraging Big Data in the concrete industry is the growing popularity of installing dashcams in concrete mixer trucks to track driver behavior. These large volumes of data made of video events and alerts offer tremendous value when cross-referenced with information from other data sets like concrete delivery metrics and using paperless ticketing. Combining Delivery KPI information and video intelligence on the digital ticket provides easy access to actionable data to help improve fleet safety and concrete delivery performance.

Using collaboration platforms like Sysdyne’s iStrada Lytx machine vision and AI-powered fleet dashcam solution, producers can monitor driver behavior, monitor delivery performance metrics including yards poured/delivered/remaining, and track job acceptance on paperless digital tickets. As data gets bigger and bigger, the need to boil it down to the actionable essentials gets bigger as well. Big Data sets like video logs from dashcams and live feeds from sensors on plants or trucks can add up quickly. This is where tackling Big Data becomes vital; cloud computing coupled with robust analytic platforms to crunch the data and provide value is an important part of the solution.
Big Data
The variety of inputs in Big Data allows better levels of certainty about status reports and production forecasts. The analytics can provide more helpful indications of risk levels before a threshold is exceeded and an alert generated. For example, using IoT (Internet of Things) to place sensors on plant equipment can offer endless possibilities in preventing mechanical failures that would otherwise shut the plant down and stop production – Hence the idea that of preventive plant maintenance can begin to take shape powered by analytics in the batch software to alert production managers of potential problems before they happen. Much like using GPS to track trucks on a digital map has, the next wave of industrial sensors to power our thirst for real-time data to better manage our assets will become the norm. Harnessing Big Data will continue to offer insights that traditional methods and systems simply cannot.

Traditional methods are good at compiling and storing data about everything from production statistics to delivery metrics and profitability. However, they are limited in their ability to work with unstructured data like free text, printed information, or analog sensor readings. The idea of harnessing Big Data is to gain more insights and make better decisions by analyzing a wide variety of data sets to draw practical conclusions. In fact, Big Data, much like truckloads of bricks or bags of cement, isn’t useful on its own, it’s what you do with it that counts.

How Networking Plants Using Cloud Batch Benefit Concrete Producers

How Networking Plants Using Cloud Batch Benefit Concrete Producers

Maximo Ares Garcia has been working in the construction industry for over 7 years. He began as a sales consultant for concrete equipment with a variety of concrete companies in Latin America. He was responsible for helping and guiding them to maximize plant production output from their equipment and getting the best return on investment. Maximo knows concrete batch equipment, and in his opinion, the new Cloud Batch from Sysdyne is changing the way we batch concrete.

Cloud Batch Benefits Concrete Producers
What is the real value of Cloud Batch for Concrete producers, especially those with plants in rural areas?

Traditionally to perform batch plant maintenance and system upgrades, resources are dispatched to go onsite to each individual plant, costing man hours and a loss in production revenue. For producers with plants in rural areas, this is especially a problem. It forces the plant to shut down and production to stop which cost money, not to mention the cost of sending people for the day or in some cases several days to install, troubleshoot and test new batch software updates.

“With Cloud Batch, plants are centrally networked so any update or upgrade can be done remotely from a central location. It’s simple, straightforward and reduces plant downtime significantly.”

How many concrete producers have held off updating batch software to avoid the headache of shutting down the plant? Using Cloud Batch, software upgrades are carried out without moving resources or shutting down production. A backup of the plant’s data, including mix design information and plant configurations, is already available in the cloud, so loading the information is seamless. As part of SaaS (Software as a Service), the batch software is updated smoothly and continuously on a regular basis. In fact, if the physical batch computer were ever to go down, the batch man can easily switch to any other device, whether it be a computer, tablet or even their phone and continue batching within minutes. The data is cached or saved both locally and on the cloud, so production can continue to push forward regardless. No more waiting days for proprietary computers to arrive, then wrestling with data back-ups to get operations up and running. The future is friendly and this is a great example of how technology is working FOR concrete producers and not the other way around.

What about predictive plant maintenance using Cloud Batch, how would that work?

Every ready-mix plant requires some level of maintenance, however if you see the problem coming before it forces a shut down, that is money saved. Using IoT (internet of things) and sensors on the plant, Cloud Batch could possibly run diagnostics to detect potential operational failures before they happen. This would avoid forced plant shutdowns that not only cost money and loss of production but also reduce maintenance bills for replacing parts on the plant.

“Being connected using Cloud Batch gives producers, especially those with plants in rural areas, the chance to keep their fingers on the pulse of their batching operations to reduce operational costs and maximize output.”

As Sysdyne’s Cloud Batch rolls out on the market, concrete producers will also benefit from having access to both batch and dispatch data in one central location. The single database for batch and dispatch information will dramatically improve any concrete producer’s ability to track and measure performance and monitor costs more effectively from the palm of their hand.

Ready-Mix operations will be able to train new batch men easily online or organize refresher courses to ensure they are using all the key features properly and getting the best return on their investment. Using the cloud, all plants and personnel can be networked as one.

Additional capabilities like monitoring production volumes from mobile dashboards and consolidating inventory and material consumption as it happens in real time, is a game changer. All these benefits are only possible by connecting batch systems to the cloud and managing a single database for the entire operation. Once installed, Cloud Batch will give Ready-Mix producers unprecedented access to the information they need, when they need it, so they can run their operations more profitably.

Online Collaboration Platforms Benefit the Concrete Delivery Ecosystem

Digital Collaboration: An Integral Part of the Concrete Delivery Ecosystem

Best practices can be shared collectively across a variety of different industries. Over the last year, many businesses have had to adapt to a more hybrid approach to working remotely and learn how to work more effectively and efficiently. As a result, Ready-Mix Concrete producers have found that using digital collaboration platforms like iStrada have dramatically improved the way project stakeholders exchange and communicate with each other within the concrete delivery ecosystem. Ready-Mix suppliers are quickly finding out that some of these new digital workflows have positive benefits beyond employee health and safety during the pandemic, including strong returns on investment such as reducing costly delays and creating more efficient data workflows using better communication tools.
construction technology
The major trend in the Concrete industry is the digital transformation of batch, dispatch and concrete delivery management powered by the cloud and online collaboration platforms. Endless numbers of exchanges between dispatchers, contractors and DOT inspectors can be handled by simply logging into Sysdyne’s iStrada App to visualize concrete delivery status and performance data as it happens. Stakeholders can download digital copies of the tickets and inspection reports anytime, anywhere using any mobile device. The enhanced ability to share information from a central online location cuts down on miscommunications and promotes more efficient ways of being able to act on information throughout the day. Due to the heavy demands on Ready Mix Suppliers to manage and anticipate order delivery times, the use of integrated collaboration platforms like iStrada have been helping improve the delivery process for all stakeholders by making data more easily accessible.

“The enhanced ability to share information from a central online location cuts down on miscommunications and promotes more efficient ways of being able to act on information throughout the day.”

The returns from leveraging collaboration platforms are generally broken down into two categories, quantitative such as improved delivery times and the more qualitative metric such as more streamlined and accurate information workflows. By measuring delivery times, producers and contractors can better understand the variables that impact idol times, material production and delays at the job site to make the proper adjustments. By leveraging an online collaboration platform, contractors can access truck locations in real time on a digital map to better manage work crews and reduce delays at the job site. The ability to monitor delivery performance metrics using KPI dashboards on the iStrada platform, both producers and contractors can save significant time, minimize delays and reduce costs. Inspectors can access ticket information such as water details, batch weights easily online and input test results directly using any mobile device. The key to successful collaboration is first centralizing the data on a single platform, almost like creating a data repository, then making it easily accessible to the entire ecosystem using an online portal that is easy to use and effective. The result is a more robust communication channel where all stakeholders can access critical delivery performance data in real-time. This “single source of truth” approach simplifies data sharing and allows stakeholders to be more proactive in mitigating risks, managing work crews and reducing delays.

“The ability to monitor delivery performance metrics using KPI dashboards on the iStrada platform, both producers and contractors can save significant time, minimize delays and reduce costs.”

In analyzing the return on investment in more quantitative measures, stakeholders are quick to point out that enhanced communication is the largest return, though more challenging to measure and attribute a dollar amount. The improved communication workflow can directly impact savings on manpower, fewer unnecessary phone calls and more accurate data that makes their job a lot easier. Contractors can anticipate delivery times more effectively and manage their crews accordingly. Inspectors can enter test data and view ticket information from the safety of their vehicle at the job site. Producers will manage fewer unnecessary calls allowing dispatches to focus on getting ‘mud’ out the door. The iStrada online collaboration platform promotes transparency, trust and efficiency. Centralized access to delivery also data eliminates the notion of ‘where’s my concrete’ and makes everyone’s lives a little easier.

“The improved communication workflow can directly impact savings on manpower, fewer unnecessary phone calls and more accurate data that makes their job a lot easier.”

Advanced features such as Online Ordering will continue to push the envelope of what is possible in the Ready-Mix Industry. The technology is tried, tested and approved and has never been more easily accessible to any size Ready Mix organization. The ability to collaborate online with customers using an integrated platform is quickly becoming the new norm. The business benefits for the entire concrete delivery ecosystem which include; producers, contractors and inspectors are already being felt as more digital projects are being approved and piloted by the FHWA and state DOTs.

Digital Transformation in the Construction Industry: Job Site Technology That Is Here to Stay

Digital Transformation in the Construction Industry: Job Site Technology That Is Here to Stay

concrete cloud solutions

The construction industry has been integrating technology at a growing rate over the past decade. In 2020, like many other industries, the adoption of technology was significantly accelerated on construction job sites, and some of the changes are here to stay. The benefits of cloud-based job site technology are constantly growing and will continue to shape the way we work for many years to come.

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, years of technological change were compressed into months. While some contractors were able to adapt quickly to the vastly altered landscape in 2020 because they had already been using cloud-based software, others were held back by drastic changes in operation. Now that this shift has taken place, tech firms anticipate the trend to continue.

“The point here is that businesses have realized that investing in technology is not something that you should do in a reactive way, but something that you proactively look at – This is not just about being distinguished.”

COVID-19 has standardized the remote work environment, and made it a must-have to be in the cloud. Although the pandemic was disruptive for the current clients of ERP developer Acumatica, it was not crippling. “They were able to ask their employees to basically, ‘Take your laptop and work from home starting tomorrow,’” vice-president of Platform Strategy at Acumatica.

At the same time, many of those who lacked the proper tech resources were able to easily move from their legacy systems to platforms such as Acumatica to keep their job sites going and dialed in by their remote employees.

Similar adoption patterns were seen by construction management software provider InEight as the need to communicate remotely bumped up.

The chief product officer of InEight said that the pandemic intensified what had been a “creeping” movement towards digitization in construction.

“The pandemic was kind of an urge to urge them into those changes, but now that they’re there and they see all the benefits of it, I don’t see them moving off of it”

About a year into the pandemic – and at least a few months until an operating environment resembling normal starts to re-emerge, the tech tools contractors and those in construction implemented have already been embraced, making it very unlikely for them to return to their pre-pandemic methods of operation.

More specialized segments of the tech market have also seen rapid uptake during the pandemic.

safety first

With few areas requiring as much attention as health and safety, the co-founder and CEO of SafetyTek says the company has more users and daily app interactions than ever. The firm’s paperless safety management platform helps contractors collect data from the field, allowing health and safety managers to create custom forms to meet disparate reporting requirements in different jurisdictions.

Along with diverting the process to the cloud to minimize staff on-site, SafetyTek’s solution helped tackle one of the novel health challenges COVID brought to the surface.

“If you get injured on-site, you can go home and go to your family and not worry about harming them, but if you get a virus on-site, you can go home and spread that – That is what’s really put health and safety on a pedestal, I would say, especially in the construction area where most people are a little more cautious now about how they interact with folks on-site.”

Like their counterparts in other operational roles, health and safety managers were acting from a reactionary position in 2020. In the coming months, he expects to see that change.

“2021 needs to be the year where we can take a calibrated approach to implementing solutions so we don’t get put in this position again,” he said.

In addition to logging mandatory safety forms and related information, SafetyTek is also coaching clients on how to make the best of their data. With metrics such as incidents and near misses on-hand, contractors can glean insight on how to better manage their safety programs.

Likewise, InEight is looking to help the industry utilize the stores of information now at its disposal.

“We’ve got this wealth of data sitting there, so now the opportunity becomes how do we turn that information into something that makes everybody on the team smarter,”  said the chief product officer.

Driven in part by the pandemic, digital transformation throughout construction has likely now moved past its halfway point. The industry’s use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to increase productivity on job sites, on the other hand, remains in its infancy.

Using both industry and company-specific benchmarking to optimize job sites will keep tech firms growing throughout construction in 2021 and beyond. This more nuanced approach to data will also help construction overcome a number of the barriers contributing to its so-called “productivity gap.”

Builders should also integrate the lessons learned during 2020 into their post-pandemic plans. In particular, as AI and other new tools like sensors and robotics filter into construction, contractors need to be willing to act quickly.

“Traditionally, if you go into a process of choosing a new platform and technology, it’s a large committee involved and it’s a decision by committee and it takes forever. Instead, as the pandemic took hold, construction companies were very scrappy about making adjustments. One of the key takeaways from this is that you could actually move fast – moving fast doesn’t mean you’re losing control.”

Link to original article

Hercules Concrete Delivers Big Using Online Customer App

iStrada® Fully Integrated Delivery Management, Concrete Producers, and Customers – a winning combination

Hercules Concrete is taking customer service to the next level using iStrada’s online customer collaboration platform. As part of the full-featured GPS Truck Tracking iStrada package, concrete producers can now share critical job and delivery information with their customers online using any mobile device to save time and build trust while promoting transparency.

“We want to promote transparency and trust with our customers, and using iStrada’s online collaboration platform allows us to do just that.”
Jim Plohg
Hercules Concrete LLC. , Senior Director


Concrete producers can give their customers access to important information including job status and delivery time by using iStrada’s customer portal, so contractors can manage their work crews more efficiently. Customers can view yards shipped, yards poured, and yards remaining for each job through the dashboard on their phone. Providing this information online with customers builds trust and enhances customer loyalty. This quickly becomes a much appreciated added value service and competitive edge in a fierce market where every dollar counts and customer service is essential.

“By giving customers access to the iStrada App, we were able to cut call volumes to our dispatch down by 15-20%”
Jim Plohg
Hercules Concrete LLC. , Senior Director

Jim explains how DOT inspectors can also be given access to the application so that they can query and download PDF versions of the tickets and batch weights without having to contact the office. This saves producers time and allows them to concentrate on delivering concrete to their customers. The online Map feature allows producers to track the location of their trucks using the embedded GPS system in iStrada, providing valuable insight into the concrete delivery process. These additional services have set Hercules Concrete apart from the competition and keeps customers coming back for more.

Delivering Superior Customer Service with Cloud-Based Technology

Delivering Superior Customer Service with Cloud-Based Technology

Patrick

Author: Patrick Stone, MBA Concrete Industry Management Candidate 2021

There is a lot of talk about the “Cloud.” Whether we hear it on Television, on our favorite social media site, or just in a conversation with our friends, the real question is not what the cloud is but what it can do for us. We use it every day and may not know we are using it. If I had to make one statement about cloud-based technology is that it makes our lives easier and more efficient.

Having worked in both the Ready-Mix Concrete Industry and Software Industry, I understand how important it is to use advanced, cloud-based technology to deliver superior customer service. The ready-mix industry is very fast-paced and customer-centric. Building a new business requires a strong emphasis on customer service and making their lives easier. Let’s evaluate the ways cloud-based technology can help deliver superior customer service.

One crucial aspect for both you as a supplier and your customer is creating an accurate record of what is being delivered and accepted for each concrete delivery. With the use of a web-based eTicketing solution, you can streamline the process of delivery and acceptance, all while creating an accurate paperless ticket record. Because this ticket is stored in the cloud, it does not take up unneeded storage space in both your office and the customers while being easily accessible if needed. In the same respect, you can allow your customer to access their own web portal with direct access to their tickets stored in a safe cloud environment. Through this technology, you help your customers get paid quicker, save time and money by having their ticket information easily accessible without the need to dig through piles of paper to find one delivery ticket.

Another way cloud-based technology can help deliver superior customer service is by increasing transparency. This transparency is based on giving your customers accurate and up to date information as it is happening. Through a cloud-based dispatch and GPS solution, you can provide your customers a clear understanding of their delivery status and the exact location of their truck. With a cloud-based Dispatch solution, you can also improve your internal transparency by giving critical members of your team access so they can have the same information your dispatchers have. This can drastically reduce the number of phone calls your dispatchers receive asking about orders and how much concrete is being shipped on a given day. With a cloud-based GPS solution, you will know exactly where your trucks are on route to your customer’s project-based and the route driven. So how does this technology improve customer service? Let’s face it, reputation and building trust with your customer is everything. Providing them accurate information never puts your credibility in doubt, and they can always count on the information you provide is precise. This technology also helps you as a concrete supplier by providing better data for improved decision making.

Cloud-based technology is here to stay and helping to eliminate antiquated programs and processes. Having a safe environment to store your information easily accessible for years to come no doubt saves you money and time while increasing efficiencies. It provides a way to make your business run more smoothly while making your customer’s lives easier. As you can see, cloud-based solutions can drastically improve customer service through better data capturing and the accessibility of the information. It also improves communication, transparency, and overall efficiencies. If you haven’t considered it in the past, you may want to now because your competitors will.

The Future of Construction: Ten Technologies and Trends to Watch in 2021

The Future of Construction: Ten Technologies and Trends to Watch in 2021

The amount of disruption that construction faced in 2020 was staggering. Amid the lockdowns, delays and restrictions caused by COVID-19, construction stakeholders demonstrated their resilience by adapting to the challenges and changing standards. When considering these obstacles, it is impressive what construction workers accomplished and the speed at which adjustments were made in the face of struggle. In 2021, many will build on lessons learned, potentially in these 10 ways.

1. EXPANDING DIGITAL TWIN ADOPTION

Digital twins inform the preconstruction and design process to prevent costly rework and mistakes. While extremely useful, the technology was underutilized over the past decade. In 2016, the technology had little market share, holding a small 20%. In 2018 this percentage grew to 57%.

In spite of construction starts falling, digital twin adoption continued this trend of growth as remote capabilities were no longer a “nice to have” but an essential component to preconstruction strategies. Data from Juniper Research projects that the overall market will grow by 17% in 2021. Many unfamiliar with digital twins will continue to realize its value, and as COVID-19 continues to loom over the industry, digital twin adoption will likely increase.

2. DIGITAL CONSTRUCTION GROWS

COVID-19 forced an industry-wide digital transformation. Like the digital twin market growth, digital construction practices including CAD, BIM and VDC received an increase in interest due to the global pandemic. In a recent forecast from ResearchAndMarkets.com, this will grow the industry’s value to 8.8 billion by 2025.

Further analysis from McKinsey suggests that the growth of digital construction could pull the industry out of its four-year economic slump plagued by rising costs and labor scarcity. JLL found similar potential in BIM and CAD, arguing that the pandemic caused a boost in usage, could cement the technology as a foundational component to the industry, and spark economic growth.

In addition to the remote benefits, BIM offers contractors with a way to coordinate the entire construction lifecycle. Clashes are detected and eliminated before occurring in the field, removing the obstacle of project delays and unforeseen costs. The pandemic caused digital transformation sparked growth in this sector that will likely continue in 2021 and beyond.

3. CONSTRUCTION INVESTIGATES AR AND VR MORE SERIOUSLY

The pandemic’s constraints and the necessity of remote capabilities have also driven interest in AR and VR technology. Using interactive experiences, construction professionals can examine trade designs and coordinate changes without visiting the site.

While there is a lot of potential, widespread adoption will likely take time. A survey by GlobalData found stakeholders are concerned by the technology’s cost, equipment and connectivity. As sites evolve to become connected IoT ecosystems, and the free market drives headset pricing down, construction will likely consider the technology more seriously in 2021, but large-scale use will take more time.

4. INCREASED USE OF DATA AND ANALYTICS SOFTWARE ON SITEY

While construction operations have improved dramatically in the past decade, capturing accurate data and analyzing it is still a struggle for many. FMI research shows that this information gap is responsible for costing the industry $177.5 billion annually.

As remote operations increase across the industry, preconstruction and construction execution software usage will also grow. In a November TechCrunch article, Bain Capital Investor Allison Xu spoke to this coming disruption, “With so many different parties both in the field and in the office, it is often difficult to relay information from one party to the next.” She went on to point out that poor data accounts for 48% of rework on construction sites. Project leads can no longer rely on their physical location to track progress and will need data to analyze the build no matter where they are.

5. STAKEHOLDERS EXPERIMENT WITH ROBOTICS TO ALLEVIATE LABOR SHORTAGE PRESSURES

The skilled trades gap was a topic of conversation before COVID-19 and will likely continue to be one. The often-discussed Great Recession lost the industry 1.5 million jobs. In a 2019 interview, Rob Dietz, the Chief Economist at the National Association of Home Builders, said recovery has been sluggish at best. “The skilled labor shortage has gotten progressively more challenging as this lengthy growth cycle has continued.” As the COVID-19 crisis has caused dramatic layoffs in more than one geographic area, the global pandemic has perpetuated the gap’s growth cycle.

With the cycle’s continued pressure, the industry will need to adjust and recover but is dealing with more complexities than before. Construction companies trying to bring employees back to work are now also dealing with decreasing construction starts, forced shutdowns, and virus concerns. Robotics will likely begin assisting construction workers by augmenting small and repeatable tasks to alleviate some pressure.

Contrary to common fears, where robotics is applied, they have multiplied human ability and allowed for increased productivity. A McKinsey analysis supports this and shows that higher productivity and autonomy would add another $1.6 trillion to construction’s global value. Kevin Albert, the founder of the construction robotics company Canvas, believes the pandemic could be a wake-up call for the industry. “COVID-19 is making people step back and say, ‘hey, the way we’ve been doing things for a long time is just not sustainable,” he said in an interview with CNBC.

6. SUPPLY CHAIN DISRUPTION SPARKS BLOCKCHAIN INNOVATION

Along with labor shortages, the COVID-19 crisis caused materials shortages, disrupting historically trustworthy supply chains. According to the US Construction Chamber of Commerce, 71% of contractors are currently experiencing one type of materials shortage.

In May,Joseph Piro, Vice President of supply chain management at Gilbane Building Company, pointed this out. “We never really worried too much about tile coming from Italy or lighting coming from China or Mexico, or glass coming from South America, whatever it might be,” he said. “Those lead times for the most part were fairly consistent. But now, this happens and we have some plants that are shutting down.”

Moving forward, contractors will likely diversify their supply chains and prioritize trust and customer experience. An examination from Deloitte projects this could lead to stakeholders utilizing blockchain technology for the chain management. This would make recording the material’s price, location, quality and other important information transparent, traceable, and easier to management.

7. RECYCLED RESOURCES GAIN MORE INTEREST

The materials shortages could also further push construction towards choosing more readily accessible recyclable resources. Data collected by the World Resources Institute shows 40% of waste is generated by construction and building. Instead of sending these materials to landfills, construction could reclaim and reuse them. Recently, Los Angeles has committed to paving roads with recycled plastic waste created by TechniSoil. As supply chain disruption continues, and our world continues to look for ways to lessen the effects and contributing factors of global warming, more contractors might commit to using accessible recycled materials.

8. MODULAR CONSTRUCTION MAKES MOVES

At the beginning of 2020, two Coronavirus hospitals were built in less than two weeks with modular construction techniques. This impressive feat brought modular construction to the forefront of the industry and caused many previously dismissive of the strategy to seriously consider it. Later in the year, fast-food chain Chick-fil-A constructed its first modular restaurant in Roswell, Georgia. The speed and efficiency capable with modular construction practices cannot be dismissed and will likely be tested on more large-scale construction projects in 2021.

9. ADAPTIVE REUSE GROWS

When America’s stay-at-home orders went into place, about half of the US workforce began working remotely. This caused many to question whether office buildings would be a part of work life in the future. U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson encouraged cities to begin considering vacant office spaces for affordable housing in an interview with Fox Business. “Virtually all of the major cities have significant spaces that can be used, and we’re encouraging [city officials] in their planning now . . . to begin to take this into consideration.” As working from home continues, 2021 could include a wave of large-scale adaptive reuse.

10. DEVELOPERS LOOK TO MIXED USE AND OUTDOOR SPACES

The shutdowns caused by the pandemic will leave their mark on how developers design new construction in the coming years. Becky Zimmermann, president of Raleigh-based Design Workshop, projected that incorporating functional outdoor space and allowing for more than one building purpose will be a critical component to projects moving forward. “For our mixed-use projects we are designing outdoor space with maximum flexibility that will enable users to adapt for outdoor dining, outdoor workouts and outdoor retail.”

While it is possible to analyze and project, 2020 showed that it is impossible to predict with certainty what will happen in in the future. In the current climate of volatility however, one thing is certain, innovation is inevitable. Construction will continue to demonstrate its resilience through disruption and move forward with creativity and determination in the new year and beyond.

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