Taking advantage of new aggregate technology (Part 2)

By |  April 25, 2023

The following conversation was edited for brevity and clarity from one of two concurrent Jan. 25 discussions at the 2023 Pit & Quarry Roundtable & Conference. Part 1 of this conversation can be found here.

Says Capital Aggregates’ Jamie Jones: “We’re pulling in so much data, but what do you do with it?” Photo: PamElla Lee Photography

Says Capital Aggregates’ Jamie Jones: “We’re pulling in so much data, but what do you do with it?” Photo: PamElla Lee Photography

PIT & QUARRY: For the producers here, what cutting-edge or transformational tech are you currently exploring? For suppliers, how are you incorporating technology into your equipment offerings?

JAMEN MCDERMOTT (SENSATA TECHNOLOGIES/PREVIEW RADAR): Our focus right now is to bring everything together – all the offerings we have, [including] IoT, radar – in one package and have an offering that is basically a one-stop shop. The idea is to have a simplification for everybody to not have to go to so many suppliers to get the parts they need.

NICK PEARMAN (ROGERS GROUP): People are collecting data from sensors, scales and everything else, and they’re building trend lines to identify issues. The management of data and applying that is one of the biggest challenges, though. With the workforce being less skilled, equipment that kind of ‘counteracts’ what’s lacking is huge.

DAMIAN MURPHY (PECKHAM INDUSTRIES): I talk to my CIO about several different things when it comes to technology. One is making sure we’re operating every hour of every day, and how do you make us more efficient in operating? We’re a growth-oriented company. We want to do deals, and we want to integrate new businesses. But we also want to differentiate ourselves with technology. We’re trying to find ways to do that. Some of that’s with software. Some of that’s with hardware. Some of that’s with automation. Another piece is protecting. Cybersecurity is a big deal for us. We service a lot of government agencies. We’ve got to be on our game with cybersecurity.



PATRICK MESSMORE (KLEEMANN): Smart, safe and sustainable is kind of the direction we’re going with the design of equipment, mainly for when you have a less skilled labor force. That way, the machines are easier to operate. They react on their own so the operators can’t necessarily do something wrong. We kind of drive a focus there because of the labor shortage to create efficiencies in equipment.

SHAWN BONNINGTON (VIZALOGIX): I gave a presentation in October, and it was all about the walls and the moats that are being established within this industry. I think the OEMs now recognize the real value of data is ultimately downstream, helping their dealers to sell more parts, service and labor. So, when they create these condition-monitoring systems, they’re valuable – especially for that local dealer – to create and forge a stronger relationship with the producer.

Still, if you take 50 steps backward and look at it from the producer’s standpoint, you’ve got a wall and a moat over here with data; a wall and a moat over there with data; a wall and a moat over there – and there’s no bridges that connect all of that together that say ‘great health data, good productivity data, great autonomous data over here.’ None of it says: ‘Here’s what you’re actually doing from a productivity side.

Telematics is really good at determining where my truck or loader is and what’s its hour meter. But for the production side of the house it’s: ‘We’re not going to log in anymore.’ Because all they got were a bunch of text message alerts that might ask them to reset.

JAMIE JONES (CAPITAL AGGREGATES): We’re pulling in so much data, but what do you do with it? Our goal is to have our IT team build a dashboard to sort through that so employees can focus on what they need to see, filtering out all of the other data. It gets overwhelming, especially with our workforce in the field. They may not necessarily have the skillset to understand or sift through the information.

Says Syntron Material Handling’s Brent Walker: “As an OEM, we have to look at how we connect the data to the customer.” Photo: PamElla Lee Photography

Says Syntron Material Handling’s Brent Walker: “As an OEM, we have to look at how we connect the data to the customer.” Photo: PamElla Lee Photography

BRENT WALKER (SYNTRON MATERIAL HANDLING): I think the things that have been lacking are from the OEM and end user sides. It’s about connecting the dots. We send you a mound of data, and we’re going to tell you what to do with it. It’s that engagement and interactivity that’s the bridge. Those things have to get easier. Otherwise, there’s 15 different systems to do one plan, and it becomes so diluted that either an interest is lost or certainly the value of it is lost.

As an OEM, we have to look at how we connect the data to the customer and then how do we build a common platform so the data is used full cross – whether it’s our equipment or somebody else’s equipment – so that the data is not only easy to interpret, but you can take action from it.

AMY ASSELIN (JOHN DEERE): When we talk to our customers, I would say we’re hearing different needs and priorities based on who you’re talking to. When we talk to the top level of the aggregate producing companies, all of this is a priority. They have a lot of sustainability goals, and so there’s a lot of interest.

When we are working with the operations, the No. 1 need we’re hearing about is alleviating skilled labor needs. That starts with automating: How do I make a new operator more skilled faster and make them highly productive? It’s about jobsite safety: How do I put in the right type of vision-detection system?

When we look at those two different areas, I think that’s what’s motivating a lot of investments. The challenge is customer dashboards are all different. So how does everybody agree on one way to measure productivity?

JEFF SIKORA (HAZEMAG): I’ve been part of this industry for 40-plus years now. We have a good group of competitors in this industry that has good products. What separates one from another is innovation and technology to help companies produce safer, more efficiently and more reliably. I think this has got to be the driving factor for a lot of companies now. We make crushers – and they’re good crushers – but what can we do to make our machine more efficient, safer and more user friendly?

ALEX KANARIS (VDG): I remember about five years ago the trend was to go with more technology, data loggers and analyzers to analyze your machines. So, we did that. We were making black boxes, basically, for our drum motors that are 100 hp and up.

But at one point, the operator could not understand the data coming through the black box. Basically, the only thing the black box was doing was getting things like standardized temperatures. So, from that point forward, we eliminated [the technology].

The more you pile up technology, the more things can go wrong. And you’re depending on somebody to read the numbers you’re getting. Technology is good, but maybe the industry isn’t yet to the point where it can accept that technology.

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