If You Can Measure It, You Can Improve It
Accepted practices to ensure concrete quality costs producers in both time and materials, and these practices fail to provide the information needed to ensure quality and avert risk.
Cutting-edge technology ensures that materials meet all quality requirements and specifications at the time of delivery by capturing realtime and historical data on the properties of concrete from the time of loading through placement. Slump, temperature, volume, drum rotation, homogeneity, water additions, and other data that summarizes the overall workability of the concrete in the drum is available in realtime to all stakeholders in a ready-mix operation.
To date, materials are usually spot-checked rather than continuously monitored, typically resulting in costly overdesigns. Now, trucks are virtually a rolling lab, offering insights that help reduce out-of-specification issues, such as lower strength, reduced durability, shrinkage cracking, and a variety of surface problems. Once the driver leaves the plant, data is transmitted to their tablet via the probe, a durable and reliable sensor system installed in the drum. The hardware requires little ongoing maintenance and practically no continuous calibrations.
Sensor data provides visibility into the properties of the materials, ensuring quality and that job specifications are met while removing materials waste and saving time that would be wasted adjusting slump. Typical properties of the concrete mix can be analyzed and communicated for future orders. Visibility also allows for continuous improvement where the collected data brings meaningful information to the entire enterprise. The data collected from the probe is fed back into other systems for production, dispatch, quality control, and fleet management.
The batcher can adjust future loads on the same order based on realtime information coming back from the loads in transit, allowing further streamlining of the next delivery cycle and assuring that quality materials are consistently delivered, faster.
Accurate returning volume, extra water, and temperature data helps to enable the reuse of returned materials in adherence to ASTM C-1798 and ASTM C-94. Dispatchers are presented with this data when making the next ticket for a truck and can decide its reuse from that—eliminating costly material waste.
Quality personnel can rely on the historical load data to evaluate and optimize mix designs, which saves building contractors on material costs from the ready-mix producer since they can more accurately design mixes to specifications and mitigates the risk of rejected loads.
Upon arrival, orders can be proven that what was ordered is what has been delivered with appropriate documentation. The net results of using the new information are that time is saved in the delivery cycle in getting the truck out of the plant faster after loading, as well as being able to begin pouring more quickly once they arrive on site. All of this occurs while providing a more consistent product to customers. More consistency and less standard deviation means that overdesigns could be reduced over time as confidence grows using the system and observing quality improvements.
Dale Brownbridge serves as the product owner for Command Alkon’s new product, COMMANDassurance.