Hi Jason, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
My family has been in the Ready-Mix Concrete business for over 70 years. I graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in Management Information Systems. Since graduating 28 years ago, I have been working in the technology aspect of construction material software. I have had various roles in the software business along with working with customers in all states and 47 different countries.
What are some of the potential benefits in using a single unified database for both dispatching and batching?
Consolidating both batching and dispatching into a single database, well it offers unlimited possibilities to generate better business insights by having all the data in one place. Imagine being able to track multiple batch and dispatch performance metrics in real time that would otherwise take days to compile. Also, being able to monitor material usage in real time while consolidating inventory is a game changer. It can help save significant money on material costs. The simple fact of not having to reconcile is a large advantage.
Based on your experience, how do ready mix producers manage their inventory and track material consumption and material costs, and has it been effective?
Based on what I have seen? A wing and a prayer. The producers that do it well track incoming and batched materials on an almost real time basis. The simple answer is providing a common system that measures both, and the less back and forth between two systems the better. In this case, less is better by having to deal with a single system that will provide real time, accurate data to help manage material consumption and ultimately save costs. That is why a cloud batch fully integrated with dispatch vs. interfaced with dispatch is an important consideration – A single database with real time access is the key to the castle
We all agree that plant downtime costs money. If we could shift from reactive to proactive maintenance of the plants, what would be the impact?
This is a great example of IoT or internet of things coming into play. Installing remote sensors at the batch plant can identify performance issues at the earliest stages and repairs can be made to the equipment before it breaks down and triggers production downtime… It is all about being ‘connected’. If the system is online then the options of monitoring the plant are endless. Consider not only the downtime, but the travel time of sending people out to the plant, sometimes several hundred miles away to upgrade software or adjust something they could have done if the plant was centrally networked using cloud technology.
In your opinion, what would be some of the main benefits of being able to manage plants that are networked and gaining access to batch data as it happens in real time using the cloud?
Decreasing plant downtime is huge, any time trucks are not on the road delivering concrete is money lost. Using online predictive maintenance tools and remote sensors at the plant can save substantial money on maintaining the plant also. Think of it this way, you can quickly address problems before they become expensive problems. Networked plants are easier to manage as well, everything is done centrally and pushed out to the individual plants automatically. All you need is a device with an internet browser to access plant data as things are happening during the day and if the main connection goes down, all it takes is a hot spot to be up and going again. You can track plant performance, make necessary adjustments and follow material consumption using your phone or tablet while you are miles away at a job site. Having access to plant data in real time gives owners better visibility into their operations and allows them to make critical adjustments without having to actually be on site. This gives owners and operators more control where margins are already slim.
With multiple systems and databases, how can producers consolidate their information to gain better business insights? Is it an easy process?
Traditionally it has not been an easy process. The systems we use in our day to day operations were not necessarily designed to work together. We have had to deal with developing interfaces and custom programming to get things to speak to each other, which is clunky and expensive. What we need to gain better visibility into business performance is by keeping things simple. Leveraging a single unified database for dispatch and batch will produce better results. One source of the truth is easier to manage than having to dig through multiple excel sheets, paper reports or database tables to get what you really need. What producers want is an easy way to get a single consolidated view of how the business is operating, where changes can be made and how profitable they are so they can make the appropriate decisions.
What is the future of digital transformation in the ready-mix industry, how will cloud platforms shape the way we do business in the future?
The traditional client server environments are expensive to maintain and also risky from a virus standpoint. I believe true cloud solutions are the future. The investment by larger companies such as Microsoft and Amazon to protect data is significantly more that any single company can create via their own server environment. The cost of ownership on an ongoing basis is also significantly less from an infrastructure and personnel standpoint. The future is going digital, the ones who have the foresight to start now will create a competitive edge for themselves and position their companies to meet new challenges for years to come.
Sysdyne has been innovating the Concrete Ready-Mix Industry for over 40 years, having introduced the first cloud-based dispatch system to reduce IT costs and improve access to critical information throughout the enterprise. By introducing the latest in cloud computing technology, producers have been able to improve operational performance and efficiency significantly. Our innovative approach to concrete dispatching, batching and delivery management, has revolutionized the way concrete producers run their operations and interact with their customers.