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E-ticket systems gaining traction across industry

By |  May 31, 2022
Scale house operators aren’t the only stakeholders who benefit from e-ticketing systems, as value is felt throughout aggregate operations. Photo: P&Q Staff

Scale house operators aren’t the only stakeholders who benefit from e-ticketing systems, as value is felt throughout aggregate operations. Photo: P&Q Staff

Information is everything. But what happens when it isn’t readily available?

In the construction materials space, a lack of information leads to remarkable inefficiencies. Consider an aggregate producer’s traditional method of managing tickets.

“That end user is typically working with many suppliers and many trucking customers,” says Patrick Stewart, co-founder and CTO at BulkSource. “Go back five years ago or even look at companies today, and those end users are aggregating tickets from dozens of sources in different formats. For them, it’s extremely challenging with a paper ticket to get any consistency to reconcile what’s happening.”

As Stewart further describes, the old way of managing tickets often leads to more questions than answers. End users, for example, may want to know how much of an order was fulfilled? Or, how much do they owe a trucking company?

The answers to these questions are easier to pin down, he says, with a digital solution such as an e-ticketing system.

“With e-tickets, you’re going to save hours of your day,” says Stewart, whose company offers an enterprise software solution enabling business-to-business e-commerce for bulk materials. “I think everybody would rather leave the office at 5 rather than 7 so they don’t have to manage tickets and they can make it to their kid’s soccer practice.”

Solution to a key shortcoming

Matthew Valle discussed the National e-Ticketing Task Force during a presentation at AGG1 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo: P&Q Staff

Matthew Valle discussed the National e-Ticketing Task Force during an AGG1 2022 presentation in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo: P&Q Staff

The shift to e-tickets makes even more sense considering the labor constraints producers face today. Matthew Valle, vice president of industry relations at HaulHub Technologies, says as much.

“We’re getting the kids out of high school [and] out of college,” Valle says. “They come to an asphalt plant, [where] papers are hanging all over the place … and information is going to a project manager’s desk where they can’t do anything with it and then, obviously, it’s ending up in the place where information goes to die. This is the reality out there at the plants and at the jobsites. So there’s got to be a better way of doing things to help address some of these workforce challenges and setting up the foundation for the next generation of workers coming in.”

BulkSource’s Craig Holman agrees wholeheartedly that digitization is a means to shore up the industry’s labor pool.

“We’re seeing a number of quarries we talk to say it has been very hard to staff full time,” says Holman, co-founder and COO at BulkSource. “Because of that, they’re exploring remote and unmanned scale houses to offset labor constraints.”

What happens, for instance, when several employees walk off the job at once? The pain that sets in can be excruciating, but these sorts of events prompt producers to explore technology solutions.

“With the labor shortage, a lot of operators learned that if they’re going to survive as a business, they have to evolve their tech and do more with the same amount of resources or less,” Holman says. “We’ve heard: ‘My scale house guy just left. How hard is it for me to install a remote scale house?’”

Still, scale house operators aren’t the only ones benefiting from e-ticketing. Stewart says the value is felt throughout producer companies.

“A lot of general managers tell us they don’t even know how many loads and tons they shipped yesterday, let alone today,” he says. “That can be frustrating. Management might be in a centralized office and might be managing different sites. They don’t have the time to remote log in to some server in the scale house.”

BulkSource, for one, sees customers buy into the concept when they realize they can log onto a single platform from their phone or computer and view ticket fulfillment in real time at all locations.

“Accounting loves it because, instead of jamming that information in by hand, they have real-time access to data,” Stewart says. “They can connect the way it looks, the way it’s formatted.”

Customer driven

Additionally, Stewart says e-ticketing is increasingly determining who end users do business with and who they do not.

“If you’re a supplier and not providing this as a service to your end customer, that is part of the decision for the customer in terms of who they are going to source materials from,” he says. “Price is a factor and quality is a factor, but more and more electronic ticketing is going to be more in discussion with contractors.”

More Departments of Transportation across the U.S. are calling for e-ticketing systems and driving the shift, Holman adds. A variety of hurdles still need to be cleared, though.

“One of the things you have to understand about government is that every municipality, every county and every state has their own opinion on how their particular area of government should be run,” Holman says. “You’re going to have a hard time finding all 50 states, all 3,000 counties and all 19,000 municipalities agree on a singular e-ticketing vendor or process. Because of that, it creates a ton of space for the likes of BulkSource, HaulHub [and] TAC Insight.”

E-ticketing also makes sense because of how fragmented the industry’s supply chain is.

“There’s such discontinuity between trucking, aggregate and construction,” says Clay Bowman, director of business development at TAC Insight, whose company offers Fast-Weigh as a system supporting dispatch, loadout, scale ticketing, billing payment and delivery. “The construction guys order the rock. They have this stack of paper tickets, pick up the phone and say: ‘Hey, I need more rock.’ But they don’t have the ability to communicate directly. With Fast-Weigh, they do because it has vertical app integration.

Managing editor Jack Kopanski contributed to this article.

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry magazine. Yanik can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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