All posts by Tim Dwyer

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.”

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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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Nelson Bros Ready Mix and Sysdyne – A Success Story

Nelson Bros Ready Mix

How Moving to the Cloud and Paperless Ticketing Drives Real Value for Concrete Producers

Nelson Bros Ready Mix is a family-owned concrete company held by local residents of Lewisville, Texas and is celebrating its 70th year. NBR currently has 5 locations and over 86 mixer trucks with plans to expand. NBR made the “jump” to the cloud by adopting Sysdyne’s ConcreteGO cloud Dispatch and iStrada Cloud delivery management system to improve their operations and the company’s bottom line. We sat down with Nelson Bros Vice President Don Desch to talk about how switching to cloud dispatch and paperless ticketing improved their business and put them in a stronger position to compete.

Tell us about yourself, Don?

My work background is typical for this industry, I started off as a driver progressing into dispatch, concrete sales, operations manager, and ultimately ended up Vice President for a concrete company in Denver, Colorado. I took several executive positions over the years and eventually made my way to Las Vegas, San Antonio, and now Dallas/Fort Worth where I am currently the Vice President at Nelson Bros Ready Mix in Lewisville, part of the DFW Metroplex.

What drives you to be part of this industry?

I have been in this industry for close to forty years now. Continuing relationships with customers/vendors and employees is gratifying. Looking back on my time in the industry, every step of the way, from mixer driver to my role today, I was fortunate to have great mentors. Mentorship is an important part of my job that I enjoy.

What has been your experience switching to the Cloud using Sysdyne’s ConcreteGO Dispatch and iStrada delivery management?

It has been a year since we went live. Initially, we ran ConcreteGO parallel with the old dispatch system for roughly 6 weeks, placing orders into ConcreteGO and getting trained on the features, until the old dispatch system failed just before the transition. We weren’t necessarily ready to jump into ConcreteGO full-time. We were about four weeks away from our planned go-live date for ConcreteGO, but were able to seamlessly transition over and ship concrete the same day. We had a very good positive experience being on the cloud, if we had not been on the cloud that day, we would have really struggled to get concrete orders shipped to our customers. Sysdyne showed us the value of using a hosted service that is not in our office, it allowed us to satisfy our customers on that day. Due to the virus going around, our dispatchers are scattered a little bit, the beauty of the cloud is some of our guys are working from home and all they need is a web browser to get into ConcreteGO and start their day. Another advantage of the cloud is that information is easy to grab, which also ties into paperless ticketing. Dispatch and delivery information is easily accessible at any time so we can track performance and make decisions that best serve our customers. We try to be innovators and offer exceptional customer service. One part of providing great customer service is having a robust system and cloud technology which allows us to offer added-value services. Again, I think back to the day our old dispatch server went down and we were forced to prematurely rely on ConcreteGO though we were weeks away from our official go-live date. As a result of this experience, we felt confident that we would be successful when we implemented ConcreteGO. Hats off to both teams for making it a very easy transition.
 

We had a very good positive experience being on the cloud, if we had not been on the cloud that day, we would have really struggled to get concrete orders shipped.

 

How has using iStrada’s PaperlessTicketing impacted business?

We believe that we were one of the first suppliers in our market to transition to paperless tickets. It used to be a very arduous task for our back-office staff to pull up the orders from the prior day or days and have to type the information in manually to create customer invoices. The way ConcreteGO works with our accounting now cuts that time in half. The invoicing and ticket management side is now very simple. When we used to get done with deliveries for the day, the batch plant would have to put all the tickets together and have them couriered to a central location. Someone from the back office would then have to retrieve the stacks of tickets and take them to the office where another person would prepare them for invoicing. In all, we would have the driver, plant manager, courier, and accounts receivable all touching the tickets. When the paper tickets were being sorted by the clerk to give to accounts receivable, there sometimes would be missing tickets. They would then have to sift through stacks and stacks of boxes of tickets that could easily consume about half of the clerk’s day prior to getting the information to accounts receivable.
 
So now what happens, accounts query the accounting system and sort by the customer and then send an email invoice out to our customers directly. It’s very seamless and very accepted in the market. In fact, if customers want the delivery tickets with their invoice, we can offer that easily too. All the information is in digital format, so that part has worked out really well; nice and clean. Our current integration with ConcreteGO Cloud dispatch and iStrada Paperless ticketing has cut our invoicing time down by 2/3.
 

Our current integration with ConcreteGO has cut our invoicing time down by 2/3

 
The drivers have gotten used to using Sysdyne’s iStrada delivery management in getting the signature and putting in notes like adding water at the plant or job site onto the tablet. We have a wide range of commercial and residential customers, and the market acceptance has been good with only a few municipalities looking to continue using paper tickets. Initially, many of the customers were apprehensive and still wanted the paper version, but that has changed over the years. For example, let’s say we have 75 orders today, we will probably have one customer who still wants a paper ticket. Even then, we recommend getting the ticket emailed, it’s so much faster and so many people have grown accustomed to receiving tickets by e-mail instead.
 
As an added value, we also provide our customers the option to download their tickets online using the iStrada portal. We have had a high level of success with customers who we have invited to log in to use the iStrada App to see how things are coming along in the field using the mobile dashboard. The dashboard offers a lot of key insights into the delivery process including, yards poured, yards delivered and yards remaining. Other customers prefer to get SMS text and email notifications. There is a really neat feature in ConcreteGO where when the truck leaves the geofence of the yard, it sends a text to the customer in the field with the order number, truck number, number of yards on the truck, and where we stand on total yards delivered to the job. The information is real-time, and the customers get what they want. It saves on the phone calls coming in to dispatch but it also shows we are trying to take care of the customer.
 

We are excited about all the new things you have to offer. We will be a one-million-yard company is not far too long and without people like you, we can’t get there

 
With iStrada, we have the ability to pull up the map on our phone and see where all the trucks are in real-time. The other fun part is there is no latency. When it says the truck is a mile away from the job site, it is. It’s very accurate. If you have never worked in this business, some of this might not look like much, but when you have been in the business for as long as I have, and you know what is out there, you really appreciate these tools and how it makes the job a little easier.
We would like to utilize the tablet more fully, such as taking pictures if there are issues at the job site. The photos taken on the tablet are tied to the delivery ticket and time-stamped. The trick is the constant training with the drivers, much like anything else, it takes a little time to change habits, but we are much better off than we were a year ago. Using iStrada and Paperless Ticketing is a lot more convenient and efficient especially when it’s done right, it’s a great tool to have.

How is 2021 shaping and how important is the need to use business intelligence and forecasting for Concrete producers?

We haven’t really taken advantage of all that yet, we know it’s out there and we do want to take advantage of statistics. Right now, we are focusing on taking care of driver times and delivery performance which is huge in our industry. But you have to be careful, I have worked with companies that hired 2-3 people to work on statistics, but what I found is that if you don’t take action on the information, it’s not of much use. So, we are looking to capture and use more business intelligence but more importantly, we will be looking to leverage the information that makes the most sense for our business. Another thing we look forward to doing is to take advantage of Sysdyne’s new Pioneer Cloud batch and become a 100% cloud-based concrete business. I look forward to learning more about Pioneer Cloud Batch and seeing it in action sometime soon. As we grow in size and sophistication, we require systems that are easily adaptable to our business needs and those of our customers, and we find this with Sysdyne.

What has been the overall experience working with the Sysdyne team?

We have always had an open line of communication with Sysdyne about how and when issues would be taken care of, and they always follow through. The Sysdyne team’s response time is well above average and courteous. After a year of working with Sysdyne, we have still not explored all they have to offer, and there are still some things we could be using more of, but overall it has been a very positive experience working with Sysdyne.
 

Overall, it’s been a very positive experience having you guys come on-board, easy to work with, responsive to our needs and you don’t give up

 

Check Out the Driving Force Behind Our Continued Success

Check Out the Driving Force Behind Our Continued Success

We want to take this opportunity to thank the people who supported us during this extraordinary year. Who worked with us to make Sysdyne a better company with better products and services. You are Sysdyne’s reason and purpose and we look forward to continuing our journey together in 2021. It is our goal to build superior Cloud software and deliver the best possible user experience to the Ready Mix Concrete industry.

 

 

We owe 100% of our success to our loyal customers, they have seen us grow into the leading cloud software provider in the concrete industry – we owe it all to them!
– Jill Zhang, President of Sysdyne Technologies

 

Sysdyne aims to give their customers the best experience possible, from the time they visit our website to when they go live with a project. We are indebted to our customers and will continue to innovate and strive to deliver the highest quality standards in technology and customer service.

 

 

Pioneer iStrada ConcreteGO

 
 

Sysdyne Ultimate Employee Photo Contest Results

Sysdyne Employee Photo Contest


With the holiday season upon us, we decided to have some fun and put together a photo contest that was open to all employees. The goal was to show off everyone’s picture taking talents and originality. There were First, Second, and Third place winners.

Winning Photos
boats

While reviewing the photo entries by both sales and technical teams, we noticed a trend among the sales team’s submissions, can you spot the trend? (Scroll to see the answer)

Sales Team Submissions:
So what was the trend?

That’s right, the answer is fishing! The exception to the trend was our Product Manager, Tim Doncaster, part of the technical team, who also enjoys a little fishing and caught an Amberjack off the coast of Orange Beach, AL.

Technical Team Submissions:
Congratulations to the winners and a thank you to all of our employees who participated in the contest! Happy Holidays!

 

Batching concrete will never be the same – Exclusive interview with Sysdyne’s Jill Zhang

Please provide us with a brief overview of Sysdyne

Founded in 1976 in Stamford Connecticut, Sysdyne has been dedicated to serving the concrete industry for over 40 years. Sysydne has a long history of leading the industry in innovation. We are one of the first in the country to develop computerized concrete batch control systems, the first to introduce Cloud technology to concrete dispatch, and the first to make concrete deliveries go paperless. With the debut of Pioneer – our Cloud Batch control system, we’ve become the first in the world to bring concrete batch controls to the Cloud. Sysdyne is now the only company in the industry to have updated their entire line of software – concrete dispatch, concrete batch, and concrete truck tracking with the latest in advanced Cloud computing technology. Sysdyne’s fully integrated suite of enterprise software includes; ConcreteGO Cloud dispatch, Pioneer Cloud Batch, iStrada delivery management software, and iStradaView online collaboration platform. These innovative tools were specially designed for concrete producers and have fundamentally transformed business processes for the better. The transformation helps reduce costs, free up IT resources, generate real-time business insights and build customer loyalty. It maximizes the return on investment by improving operational performance, communications, and production efficiency significantly.

As a result, we’ve been experiencing rapid growth in customer acquisition in the US and around the world, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. By leveraging Sysdyne products, managers, operators, and executives are able to monitor their business remotely in real-time using their mobile devices as the day unfolds. This allows them to react promptly and avoid potential problems at the job site. The iStradaView mobile collaboration platform improves communication with contractors and project stakeholders while reducing the need for physical interaction between drivers, inspectors, and the job site project managers by using paperless ticketing. Many concrete producers have adopted Sysdyne’s cloud solutions quickly to keep employees safe without interrupting their business.

In your opinion, what is the state of technology in the Ready-Mix concrete industry?

Having worked in the industry for almost 20 years, I still remember the days during which email was not even “our thing”. The Ready-Mix industry is notorious for its slow adoption of new technologies, and industry technology providers have to bear some responsibility for that. In some cases, software providers have enjoyed good margins by continuing to offer old technologies without investing in new ones, even though the benefits of new technology have become increasingly obvious. Cloud technology is a perfect example. It’s a technology that provides the highest uptime, can be easily be scaled up or down based on business volume, and allows users access anywhere at any time using any device. It doesn’t require capital investment, in-house IT infrastructure, or maintenance. Cloud architecture is the natural evolution away from the client-server architecture, just like Windows evolved out of the old DOS operating system. However, it has yet to be widely adopted in our industry even though it was first introduced over two decades ago. The primary dispatch software used by the majority of concrete suppliers is still based on the old client-server technology that demands a lot of resources to procure, maintain and upkeep.

“At Sysdyne, we see it as our responsibility to move the industry forward and pass along the benefits of new technology to our customers. That’s the very reason we pioneered the development of Cloud dispatch – ConcreteGO and now Cloud Batch – Pioneer” – Jill Zhang, President of Sysdyne

The adoption of new technology has accelerated in recent years. It’s driven by the desire of using mobile devices to gain real-time access to business insights, collaborate easier with project stakeholders, monitor and react quickly as business situations change, and accomplish functional tasks. Quickly evolving programming tools and libraries have made this adoption much easier. That is why we have seen technology startup companies quickly develop Apps and software to mine data from traditional dispatch software. To build intuitive charts, graphs, and reports that can be easily viewed on a mobile device. To a certain extent, they have fulfilled a market demand of acquiring much-needed business intelligence.

However, as the CTO of Manatt’s, Mr. Bridger Moreland once said: one big challenge remaining across the industry is the interoperability between systems – how to break down the silos to make information flow fluidly. Concrete suppliers need the information to gain insights all the way through, end to end, into what they are trying to produce. Otherwise, we have a lot of data we can’t do anything with and the business insights presented are only partial.

This is particularly true for concrete batch controls which have traditionally worked in a sort of silo with batch data more often hard to reach and underexploited. Sysdyne has taken on that challenge and applied IoT technology to concrete batch controls to provide a solution. IoT (Internet of Things) is a network of physical devices that are connected and capable of exchanging data over the Internet. So IoT devices are all about interoperability and breaking down silos. In fact, we have seen more and more smart devices in our industry built using IoT technology.

With data from the batch, dispatch, and delivery tracking more easily accessible using the Cloud, concrete producers can expect much more in terms of gaining access to business intelligence in real-time and keeping their finger on the pulse of their operations.

Another good example of the challenge with interoperability is the interactions between concrete suppliers and the supply chain of raw materials – how to achieve “Just in Time” results between raw material fulfillment and concrete production. We have yet to see a fully integrated solution to fulfill this important market need.

How did Sysdyne start with the development of Cloud Batch? What is the next innovation on the horizon?

Actually, what we just discussed about breaking down the silos and doing a better job at leveraging data is almost an afterthought. What triggered the development of Cloud Batch is the attempt to address the challenges of inventory and mix management. I’ve seen the struggle with inventory reconciliation when I visit our customers. Similarly, many concrete producers manage mixes at the batch panel level, which presents its own set of problems. It’s extremely difficult for Quality Control managers to make changes in mix designs if the batch panels are all stand-alone. And it’s almost impossible to manage material inventories. So, the thought process was “why don’t we make dispatch and batch one software package and make it accessible using the Cloud?” One database to become the single source of truth for material receipts and consumption. Managing mixes locally also means managing mixes remotely through dispatch. The need for an interface between batching and dispatch is therefore completely eliminated, simplifying and optimizing data fluidity at the same time. The Cloud offers more flexibility, better connectivity, and advanced visibility to interpret and analyze concrete batch data. The ability to monitor the entire batch processes in real-time and make adjustments remotely reduces reliance on batch operators. It also improves the consistency of concrete quality and productivity. The ConcreteGO Cloud dispatch open API represents a powerful tool to enhance data exchange capabilities in a more open environment. Predictive maintenance schedules based on data analytics will help further reduce costs and downtime at the plant.

Sysdyne thrives on developing and innovating, it’s in our DNA. We will continue to leverage the latest in technology in developing our products to help concrete producers grow their bottom line and improve productivity.

We have another big product release in Q1, 2021. Stay tuned!