Concrete is everywhere. It constitutes our literal foundations and keeps our infrastructure structural, so we can roll, walk, and live comfortable lives. It’s not surprising then that concrete is a huge industry, with Fortune Business Insights putting the global ready-mix concrete market at 633.4 billion dollars in 2019, with projections indicating that by 2027, we’ll be looking at a 1.2 trillion dollar market. With that much money on the table, you begin to hear dollars and cents tumbling ‘round the inside of the cement drum, but the industry continues to suffer from a few bad habits that need to be addressed if those dollars are going to make it all the way to the final pour.
The concrete industry and their respective fleets remain largely disconnected, and the integration they do have is fragmented at best. This often includes a scattering of different construction software that are incompatible and create their own problems. With this kind of disjointed adoption being the norm, it’s no wonder that the construction industry in general is one of the least digitized sectors, seeming to have a death grip on outdated, analog methods that are holding many operations hostage. It’s a world where you might be doing your DVIRs digitally, while using Excel spreadsheets to track job variables, and still having your crew fill out paper time cards. It’s a nightmare, one that’s putting concrete producers in cement shoes, so to speak, and keeping businesses from maximizing profits.
More concerning is that the digitization deficit for some companies is becoming a gap that will soon be too great to overcome. The distance between the digital haves and have-nots is widening daily, with operations that have adopted things like Clue’s all-in-one management platform seeing advantages that are hard to outclass. If your crew is spending even a single second manually entering their hours, that’s time that could be put back into the project. Clue lets you completely automate timecards with geofencing and site-activity trackers, letting you know when and where your crew is working to minimize downtime.
Trying to communicate with multiple crews across multiple platforms is not only frustrating and confusing, but it also costs us more time and more money...Now [with Clue] we can report maintenance issues in real-time, keep track of our equipment and crew, and even predict potential maintenance issues in the future...I could see the savings instantly, and we increased our efficiency practically overnight!
- Darrin Sheriff, Director of Equipment and Purchasing, Palmetto Corporation
As Darrin can attest, many issues can plague a job site. Sometimes, those issues are technical: the cure was off, the weather turned and now the concrete is sweating or scaling, or you were suddenly dealing with the literal onset of a global pandemic. Some things are out of your control. That said, these issues often stem from larger, systemic problems. That “bad mix” might have been because you didn’t have the right materials at the job site. The environmental issues could have been avoided if you had the telematics data alerting you to the changes and prompting a course of action. That cure didn’t need to be off if you had your timings dialed in from real, ground truth data. The global pandemic...okay. That one is definitely not on you, but you get the point.
Managing a concrete project efficiently and transparently is hard. The variables at play are manifold and multiply as one job site becomes ten, becomes a hundred. Clue makes that easy. Being able to manage all of your assets in one place is a game changer, yes, but even more powerful is Clue’s AI (Artificial Intelligence) bringing you actionable alerts on your projects with concrete (pardon the pun), data-based insights into your fleet. Clue gives you regular updates on fleet productivity, utilization maintenance, work orders, and performance analysis – no matter the make, model, year, or composition of your fleet. It allows you to get ahead of problems you didn’t know you had by auto-generating preventative maintenance schedules and minimizing the downtown of all your prized assets. Speaking of prized assets, this brings us to the most important problem facing concrete today…
3. The people you have and the people you won’t have
With concrete looking to expand over the next 5 years into a trillion dollar industry, having and keeping skilled labor is more important than ever. Yet, 70% of construction companies nationwide are having trouble finding qualified workers, according to the Associated General Contractors of America, and that includes the concrete industry. As the saying goes, “a good crew is worth its weight in gold,” and keeping the people you have safe is a top priority.
We touched on this in a previous entry, but working on highways is a dangerous business with a 67% chance that the driving public will crash into your work zone. Training your crew to handle the likely, and possibly sudden, incursion of the community is just a start. Geofencing in situations like these is particularly effective, giving your team mobile alerts when they transition into particularly hazardous areas. You want to keep the people you have because, like it or not, they’re getting harder to replace.
This also means giving certain members of your team a little peace of mind. You know what roller operators' number one complaint is...people crowding the machines: “People love watching me compact the mat.” Carlos says, a decade veteran of the asphalt trade. “But god, it’s nerve wracking!” And dangerous! Your people shouldn’t be crowding those machines. Period! Clue can help with that. With GPS integrated into your operations, Clue will send the foreman an abnormal activity alert if your crew members are deviating from daily operations. Better yet, Clue will generate danger zone alarms if anybody other than the operator is too close for comfort when a machine is in operation.
The concrete industry is on a fast-set and the world isn’t slowing down. Getting a handle on these problems now is how you decrease your costs, increase your productivity, and get your assets working more efficiently.