The dawn of a new era for the aggregate industry

By |  February 13, 2024
Kevin Yanik


Autonomous vehicles. Artificial intelligence. Electric haulers.

These were merely ideas a generation ago. Maybe even pie-in-the-sky concepts.

But now, leading aggregate producers are embarking on exploratory projects to understand the possibilities with autonomy, AI and electric power for industry applications.

The latest exploratory examples to surface involve CRH, which detailed its plans to collaborate with SafeAI on autonomous haulers and Caterpillar on electric off-highway trucks and charging solutions. It’s exciting to see another major producer come forward with a desire to discover the possibilities for an application (hauling) that is central to so many aggregate operations.

Producers like CRH and Luck Stone, which is exploring autonomous hauling with Cat, probably have more questions than answers at this stage. But producers everywhere are surely eager to learn what pilot projects uncover.

One question I’d love to have answered is how widespread autonomous vehicles, AI and electric haulers will become in the industry. I’m operating under the assumption that leading producers and their manufacturer partners will prove the viability of such technologies for aggregates, and that commercialization will follow.

Still, will autonomous vehicles and electric haulers make sense for every producer? I’m guessing they will not and that lines will be drawn in terms of which size producers can sensibly adopt the technologies and which cannot.

Maybe we’ll fully get there for everyone in the decades to come. There are skeptics who argue the technology will be too expensive or inherently unsafe – and maybe they’re right – but progress isn’t achieved by sitting still. The CRHs, Luck Stones and other producers that follow should be applauded for taking on the most difficult task in this realm and attempting to pave paths ahead for others.

M&A updates

As the magazine went to press this month, this column was the very last piece of content that needed to be assembled.

So rather than disrupt other pages that were designed and prepped for the printer, I’m utilizing this space to share two developments on the merger and acquisition front that emerged during our last days of production for this February 2024 edition.

One development was Martin Marietta’s acquisition of Colorado’s Albert Frei & Sons, which has been a fixture in the Denver market for more than a half-century. I had the opportunity to visit Albert Frei & Sons’ Walstrum Quarry in 2017, and it was one of the most impressive operations I’ve seen in my 11 years on Pit & Quarry.

Additionally, Summit Materials shared that it completed its merger of Argos USA. The $3.2 billion combination significantly boosts Summit’s cement and ready-mixed concrete footprint in the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Texas.

Featured Photo: P&Q Staff

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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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