How digitization is transforming the loadout process

By |  October 28, 2020
Photo: Bart Ronan, TRUX


Amazon customers have a reasonable expectation of when packages will arrive from the time they place orders. Shouldn’t those ordering construction materials from a local quarry have a similar idea of when they can expect deliveries?

In this day and age, TRUX CEO Bart Ronan says that’s a fair expectation.

“I’m sitting here in Boston in the pandemic getting plastic dinosaurs for my 6-year-old from Amazon,” says Ronan, whose software company touts itself as one that brings technology to the people that technology left behind. “I see in real time where that delivery is. I get a picture from Amazon when it’s left on my doorstop.

“That’s become part of our society’s expectations,” he adds.

The construction industry, however, has been slower to transform digitally. Citing the Boston Consulting Group, Ronan says construction is the second-slowest sector to digitize – ahead of only agriculture and hunting.

“On average, construction invests 1 percent on technology,” Ronan says. “Compare that to manufacturing (14 percent), banking (10 percent), health care (6 percent) and education (4 percent), and I think that lack of investment relative to other industries is about productivity issues and poor production transparency.”

Needless to say, TRUX sees an opportunity to digitize construction. This transformation undoubtedly includes aggregate producers, who have a series of digital opportunities available to bring key components of their businesses into the 21st century.

“There’s opportunity through software and digitization to have a pretty transformative impact on your business,” Ronan says. “[Producers] can reduce their freight costs through efficiency gains and increase the end customer experience through better delivery.”

New mindset

Offering real-time visibility on haulers is one approach aggregate producers can take to enhance customer service. Photo: P&Q Staff

Offering real-time visibility on haulers is one approach aggregate producers can take to enhance customer service. Photo: P&Q Staff

According to Ronan, TRUX is built on two key pillars: logistics management and its online platform for truckers.

The online platform features an app that offers advantages up and down the supply chain, Ronan says. As he describes, dump truck owners can better manage their fleets, contractors can more easily track and find dump trucks, and material producers can enhance their cycle times and plant operations by utilizing the app.

TRUX recently added its 20,000th driver to the online platform, which is available in more than 25 states.

“We’ve been very fortunate to find early adopters and champion the product,” Ronan says. “Our growth has been a testament to their success.”

One of the biggest gains those utilizing the app experience is better asset utilization, he says. In Ronan’s estimation, 90 to 95 percent of hauls go out full but return without a load. That’s a poor approach to manage costly assets.

“Delta would never do that with their airlines,” he says.

Consider another common event that occurs throughout the day: Haulers are sometimes idle because they don’t have a destination at every moment.

“Because drivers are more highly utilized, they can accept lower rates,” says Ronan, adding that haulers can also expand their coverage area by being a part of the online platform. “But they earn more on a full-day basis. You’re getting reduced cost from the demand side and higher earnings on the supply side, which is a win-win.”

Additionally, the TRUX platform provides real-time visibility on the location of haulers.

“If I’m running a paving crew on I-95, I expect to be able to see where my materials are in route,” Ronan says. “We have a product called the Order Delivery Tracker. As soon as a load is dispatched, the end customer gets an SMS text. They see all their deliveries and the ETA for their deliveries.”

Compare that to the alternative of a contractor calling up a dispatcher for an update. Will the dispatcher pick up the phone? Will he or she have a real answer on the whereabouts of the delivery?

Maybe, maybe not. But real-time order tracking, at least, provides instant answers.

Other opportunities

Customers can keep an eye on their deliveries through TRUX’s Order Delivery Tracker, which offers ETAs on individual loads. Photo: TRUX

Customers can keep an eye on their deliveries through TRUX’s Order Delivery Tracker, which offers ETAs on individual loads. Photo: TRUX

Another area producers can shore up is ticketing. The pandemic elevated producer interest in electronic ticketing, Ronan says, because contactless solutions were sought. Now, many are realizing the benefits.

“Paper tickets can be easily misplaced,” Ronan says. “They’re harder to submit for invoicing, contain nonstandard information and also miss key details. Also, no tracking or historical data can be accessed.”

Additionally, producers can reduce back office costs by consolidating invoices.

“We estimate that we save our customer, on average, 13 hours per week,” Ronan says.

Doing a deep dive into available data can present insights producers might not originally think about, he adds.

“We have one customer who was doing cycle time analysis with a clipboard and stopwatch outside of a quarry,” Ronan says. “That is now all being done in real-time using heat maps and modern technology.”

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Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or

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