Brannan Ready-Mix Leverages Construction Logistics Technology for Optimized Operations at Trimble Building Site
Greater Visibility, Streamlined Workflow: Brannan Ready-Mix Utilizes Logistics Technology on Addition to Trimble Campus
Brannan Sand and Gravel was instrumental in supporting the construction boom across Colorado throughout the early 1900s. In 1943, the company introduced asphalt to support the influx of building after the war, and the company hasn’t looked back since. Today, under the Brannan umbrella, Brannan Ready Mix delivers a wide range of ready mix products, primarily for highway paving, foundation, and high-strength concrete projects. The company has three ready mix plants spread across the Front Range, plus a main office and a maintenance operation. Typically, the company’s ready mix drivers are delivering between four and five concrete loads each day, depending on customers’ locations.
Recently, Brannan was hired as the concrete contractor for the construction of Trimble’s newest building in Westminster, Colorado. Brannan anticipates placing approximately 3,900 cubic yards of concrete at the building site over the next year, which will be placed in several phases across the project. This includes concrete deliveries for foundations, slabs and smaller placements for walls and other concrete items.The 118,000 square-foot building will be four stories and accommodate approximately 650 employees.
Scheduled for completion in late 2018, the building project is being managed by general contractor JE Dunn and a team of sub-contractors. Many of the contractors, including Brannan, are using Trimble technologies to streamline operations as well as coordinate work across the building workflow.
The Advantages of TrimFleet
Brannan has been a Trimble customer since 2010, and Jacob Lampert, Dispatch Manager for Brannan, explains that the company currently has the Trimble TrimFleet suite on all of its ready mix trucks. The company is also leasing several stand-alone Android tablets that are equipped with the TrimFleet suite. TrimFleet is a comprehensive operations tool specifically designed for the ready mix industry. It combines hardware and sensors inside the truck and software that analyzes data for an accurate view of each vehicle during the entire ready mix cycle. As part of the TrimFleet suite, TrimView modules provide messaging capabilities to-and-from trucks to dispatch, as well as reporting and mapping.
Mike Yale, Brannan Sales Manager, explains that TrimFleet is particularly important for jobs like the Trimble Phase II build because the terrain in the area is challenging and unpredictable. When drilling for the building’s foundation 100 feet down, for example, the drill will at some point hit hard bedrock. This makes it difficult to anticipate timing regarding when ready mix concrete will be needed. The TrimFleet products allow Brannan’s dispatchers to communicate very quickly with JE Dunn and ready mix operators to determine exactly when the right foundation depths are reached and when ready mix trucks should be sent to the site.
“The messaging application within TrimView lets drivers and dispatchers quickly get in touch via canned message or custom message,” said Lampert. “For Trimble’s Phase II site, the project is really an ideal location because it’s only about 13 miles from two of our plants. But, when you’re drilling for foundations, even traffic can be a major concern. Most of the time it is smooth getting there, but occasionally even a minor accident can be devastating for the timing of our deliveries. But with Trimble, we know exactly which mixers may be impacted and where they are in real time. We can send individual or group messages through TrimView to help them avoid the trouble areas without tying up our radio system and involving our entire fleet.”
With the TrimFleet office software, users essentially make a geo-fence around the Westminster jobsite, and from there they can monitor all the trucks as they enter and exit the project. They can also automatically track everything from ignition on/off times, to departure and arrival times at the plant and jobsite, to when a pour starts. Brannan is also using Trimble drum rotation sensors on all of its ready mix fleet to track speed, direction and rotation count of the mixer drum. The water-add meter is also used to measure the amount of water added before and during the pour to help validate the quality of concrete.
“We’re using the TrimFleet modules and telematics sensors to track all of our trucks so we have continuous insight from every angle possible,” said Lampert. “All of this information together is critical for our daily operation because it gives us a synopsis of what’s happening. TrimFleet also allows us to document exactly when and where the mixer trucks are in case there’s a dispute over timing or questions arise around delivery. It removes any doubt and shows that we’re delivering what we promised.”
The team is also using TrimFleet’s Active Navigation module to route drivers and vehicles from plants and to-and-from jobsites. The system uses the industry standard in truck navigation, Co-Pilot Truck by ALK, to provide drivers with turn-by-turn directions and includes features like route preview, route preference, visual maps, voice-guided directions and smart mapping to keep vehicles away from restricted roads or bridges. The turn-by-turn navigation helps Brannan mixer operators take the most efficient and accurate routes. The ETA of the load is updated in real time based on the route and actual traffic conditions. This saves Brannan both time and money by not wasting fuel or adding unnecessary drive time.
On the administrative side, Yale explains that his team uses TrimFleet software to create reports about delivery cycles. This gives dispatchers and managers accurate information when it comes to tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) about a specific job. This helps the Brannan team make sure it is hitting cubic yards per hour and truck utilization targets. By collecting accurate information at the Trimble building, they can ensure they have enough mixers to properly service the target on job time and placement rate at the Trimble Westminster Phase II project, while not over trucking and having so many trucks waiting to discharge that they risk the quality of the material and rejected loads exceed. Lampert believes these insights help improve efficiencies and profitability, which is especially important in a tight margin business like ready mix concrete.
“In the ready mix business, the 90-minute window of placing concrete is critical, as is as our pour rate,” said Yale. “Especially as we progress into the more technical placements of slabs for the Trimble build, our dispatchers will use TrimFleet to schedule trucks according to the JE Dunn’s project plan. We’ll have accurate time stamps that indicate when the mixers are showing up and actual pour times. By knowing exactly where each truck is, we can adjust on-the-fly during these placements to make sure we do not have too many trucks sitting on the job or at the plant. We depend on TrimFleet every day and it’s probably our most important tool because it actually gives us real-time information about our operations.”