Why e-ticketing represents the dawn of a new era

By |  March 15, 2021
A number of construction materials businesses are approaching dispatch these days through a digital lens. Photo: Tread

A number of construction materials businesses are approaching dispatch these days through a digital lens. Photo: Tread

Paperless ticketing that eliminates person-to-person contact was making its way into aggregate operations ahead of the pandemic. 

Now, a case can be made that e-ticketing and fleet management software are the trendiest tech tools currently surging into the construction materials industry.

“Right before COVID, we started to see things maturing,” says Noah Dolgoy, CEO and founder of Tread, which offers fleet management software for materials producers and others. “Then, COVID hit. Suddenly, we saw a massive uptick.”

Interest in contactless ticketing took off tremendously in 2020, Dolgoy says, and a number of industry businesses began to approach dispatch through a brand-new lens.

“They went from looking at it as a cost center to ‘I can become a better business,’” he says. “Watching those changes happen has been really exciting, although it’s sad [the pandemic] is the catalyst.”

Case in point

National Lime & Stone logo

The pandemic undoubtedly challenged businesses to find new ways to become more efficient. And one area where aggregate producers can make dramatic improvements the fastest is in fleet management.

National Lime & Stone Co., a construction materials producer with assets throughout the Eastern U.S., is an example of a company that ultimately saw an opportunity to achieve new efficiencies with its fleet. National Lime & Stone currently utilizes Tread’s integrated tracking feature to see where truck drivers are. The feature gives the company newfound visibility of its fleet, as well as the ability to identify which drivers are idling and which are active.

According to National Lime & Stone, its new technology offers a deeper understanding of how company resources are used. Additionally, the knowledge gained from Tread allows it to better calculate the number of trucks and the time needed for particular jobs.

“After a century in the business, we are no stranger to technology and have adopted a legacy of innovation throughout our operations,” says Ken Dinwiddie, group vice president of construction materials sales and marketing at National Lime & Stone. “Having worked with bulky hardware solutions in the past, we knew there was a better, fully-digital way to get results. Tread became the ideal partner for us to achieve this goal. Their truck management software and one-on-one support demonstrate that they are just as dedicated as we are to meeting our customers’ unique needs.”

New visibility on trucks is the factor that has driven most of Tread’s clients to the company, Dolgoy says. In Ohio, for example, where National Lime & Stone has a number of locations, producers rely significantly on contracted trucking. Because of this dynamic, Dolgoy says it’s difficult to deploy hardware solutions.

“The National Lime & Stone team uses our advanced reporting systems every day to drive cycle times for their drivers,” Dolgoy says. “Productivity analysts understand how to get that little extra bit out of each truck or project, so they can not only keep track of costs relative to bidding rates, but find those little extra wins that previously had not been visible.”

Those extra “wins” can add up fast, he adds.

“It’s simple things like ‘have we hired too many people to do a job?’” Dolgoy says. “Or, ‘do we have the correct number of vehicles to move this material in the optional fashion?’ We can start to derive much deeper insights, whereas previously [producers] would have to wait until after all paper tickets got processed. They’d have to wait days – or weeks, in some cases – to analyze a site.”

Now, producers utilizing fleet management software have the ability to analyze data instantly.

“In the past, all they knew was how many loads got delivered by how many trucks at the end of the day,” Dolgoy says.

That low level of data isn’t good enough anymore for many producers – particularly those who realize their trucking spend is their biggest outside cost center.

What’s next?

Although producers such as National Lime & Stone are transforming their fleet management, Dolgoy argues that Tread and other software providers are just scratching the surface of how much of the market can be digitized.

“There’s a lot more market left,” he says, noting that he’d be surprised if more than 15 percent of the industry has already adopted new fleet management tools.

Additionally, Dolgoy expects the coming years to bring more integration and partnerships into the software supply space.

“”We want to start integrating into each other so the experience for the customer becomes more unified,” he says. “We don’t want clients to have to buy and support 50 different software products. So, I think we’ll start to see people working together, sharing their data and unlocking different insights.”

Dolgoy also expects the future to shed new visibility on the life cycle of construction materials – not just on the time spent within trucks.

“That’s being built over time – not tomorrow,” Dolgoy says. “But what you’ll start to see from us over the next few quarters is technology that starts to feel less of ‘show me’ and more of ‘tell me how it can be better.’”

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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 kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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