Digitally Re-inventing the Supply Chain

Command Alkon

Human beings are fallible, and in an era driven by Big Data and the speed with which it’s analyzed and yields information, automation can eliminate most of the limits on human decision making. With this in mind, Command Alkon has developed a platform to digitize, integrate and optimize the entire heavy material supply chain of large construction projects.
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Command Alkon provides an integrated suite of products that have revolutionized how producers, haulers, and suppliers of ready-mix concrete, aggregate, asphalt, cement and manufactured concrete operate. And now, the company has gone a step further to integrate heavy civil contractors into the mix, drawing on cloud technology to optimize interactions in the supply chain. The result? Breakthrough productivity.

Command Alkon is regarded for its ability to simplify dispatch, logistics, and business systems through automation. This has brought real-time visibility and accountability to the management of fleet and materials. But now, with its cloud-based platform, Command Alkon provides a participative space that allows all trading partners to perform smarter, faster, safer, and more productively by streamlining processes and coordinating interactions.

“For us to provide an integrated platform for suppliers for heavy work, we have to be integrated ourselves, so we have focused a lot of attention on organizing the company by the customer, instead of the product. There are many customers out there who are participants in the supply chain, and that’s where we found cloud technology to be vastly superior,” explained President and Chief Executive Officer Phil Ramsey.

This sentiment was echoed by Vice-president of Marketing Ed Rusch. “Bringing together all the constituents that make up a construction project opens an opportunity for the broader industry,” he said. “Measured productivity on most construction sites has been relatively flat for the last twenty years. There haven’t been breakthrough improvements to date in processes and supply-chain efficiencies which are needed to move the productivity needle – the ones that create a more robust, thriving job site.”

The whole supply chain
According to Ramsey, “One of our challenges is to help our industry grow in terms of productivity. We want to do that by providing technologies that large construction sites use to equip them to see the whole supply chain rather than the individual parts.”

Through its integrated offerings, that is exactly what Command Alkon has done. It has moved the game forward in terms of operational efficiencies. Leveraging technology, the company collects and analyzes data, producing real-time forecasts that optimize all aspects – batching, dispatch, quality control, fleet management, workforce management, plant and site automation, inbound material management, and business intelligence.

Building on its product offerings, cloud technology simply expanded the capabilities and reach of all Command Alkon’s products, bringing customers a platform upon which business partners can work together to turn knowledge into action and optimize supply chain interactions for best possible project outcomes.

Paperless tickets
Today, over seventeen million tickets are paperless thanks to Command Alkon’s BuildIt product, a paperless, supply chain management system that has revolutionized how contractors, suppliers and material haulers interact on job sites.

Clearly, reducing the amount of foot traffic on site while conducting ticketed deliveries, minimizing the labor hours dedicated to administration and site coordination, and simplifying the entire process, has led to improved performance, greater site safety and a stronger bottom line.

“One of the biggest issues that heavy civil contractors have is controlling the material and transportation costs,” said Ramsey. “This is a product that will automatically transfer the tickets and other data from our ready-mix concrete and aggregate customer base directly to the heavy civil contractor.”

This is especially appealing to Departments of Transportation (DOTs), so Command Alkon is working at the DOT and contractor level to ensure the industry players at every phase of the supply chain are aligned to collaborate far more efficiently.

Enterprise level
“We used to approach the heavy civil contractors on a project-by-project basis but, very quickly, that’s being moved up the line to an enterprise level, where companies are looking to do all of their projects the same way. So, this is a good time for us. The mobile tech is in place and the cloud tech is in place,” said Ramsey.

“What we’re doing is enabling a friction-free way for people to collaborate in real time across the supply chain. To get there, partners will need to be more trusting of one another through greater transparency,” said Ramsey of Command Alkon’s efforts to grow trust through visibility and actionable information.

In this sense, Command Alkon adds new layers of value to the industry through its TrackIt 3P (for Third Party) solution, which further enables contractors to better monitor resources and control of material and transportation costs.

“When the aggregate hauler picks up from the aggregate supplier and is on its way to the jobs, the heavy civil contractor can actually see the trucks coming in through the GPS status from each of the drivers’ phones. So now, instead of just getting electronic tickets – and without having to punch keys – they see the material movements as well,” Ramsey explained.

As well as monitoring the location and arrival times of trucks, heavy civil contractors can monitor materials. Ramsey adds that ready-mix concrete is always on the critical path for large infrastructure jobs, but now Command Alkon has a device that goes into the ready-mix truck that measures the material properties of the concrete like temperature and volume while in transit. This allows both contractors and concrete producers to ensure quality and avert risk together.

The Amazon experience
Recognizing a demand in the market, Command Alkon has translated the Amazon experience into the workplace. The company’s investment in the web services environment and the cloud technology to do so was significant, but as Rusch noted, “The better we all work together, the better these products collaborate with each other, and the more efficient and effective we are at working together, the more that means greater prosperity for all involved on a project.”

Coordination of this magnitude is only possible because of the foundational work and investment Command Alkon has made in integrating its suite of products and establishing a technology-enabled platform for all this to happen.

“I think the big advantage is that we have a critical mass of heavy material suppliers who are our customers at Command Alkon,” said Rusch. “There’s the technology aspect that enables that collaboration between contractors and the critical-path material suppliers, as well as the haulers that are moving those materials to the job site. What we are really excited about is our ability to action the digital journey – to implement, connect, and facilitate the collaboration on the platform because the key suppliers are already a part of the Command Alkon community.”

Next-gen building contractor suite
Having laid the groundwork for the last decade, Command Alkon is now positioned to redefine what is possible on large construction sites, revolutionizing how site coordination and ticketing takes place in the interest of greater efficiency, timelines, safety, use of resources, and ultimately, optimal project outcomes and stronger bottom lines.

The company is excited about the opportunity before it and the potential it has to revolutionize the industry. As Rusch said, “We believe in it and we’re excited about it. That includes the meaningful impact it can have for our customers, the industry and our communities.” That’s why the company’s mantra is “Together We Build Amazing.”

“Whether it’s a technology provider or a contractor or a hauler or a producer, the more closely they’re in harmony and work together, and the better all the movements across the supply chain are orchestrated, the better the end products will be. Quite frankly, if you look at the big picture, the end products are the things that make up the communities that we all live, work and play in, so that’s what really gets us out of bed every morning ready to build amazing,” Rusch said.

And that is the clear reason why Command Alkon is a leading innovator and industry changemaker that continues to redefine the limits of what’s possible.

Building the Next Generation

As thousands of experienced workers retire across North America every day, it is small wonder many industries are concerned about the future. It has been a decade since the oldest members of the baby boom generation started leaving their jobs, removing from the workplace decades of experience and skills that are tough to replace. The situation is so dire that, when younger workers are not available or knowledgeable enough to take over, retired staffers are often called back to work on a part-time basis.

November 14, 2019, 6:21 AM EST