Leaders sense mixer drum’s role in a customer experience revolution

The top guns in ready mixed concrete production and heavy building materials information technology offerings have programmed one of the year’s best takeaways: Customer Experience.

Cemex S.A.B. de C.V. bills it Cemex Go, Command Alkon calls it by name. Both exploit IT and Internet of Things (IoT) tools to bring new efficiencies to concrete ordering, load tracking and delivery. Although centered on ready mixed, aspects of new Cemex and Command Alkon platforms will also guide manufactured concrete and heavy building materials customer service.

Cemex Go is a multi-device, fully digital customer integration platform to streamline order placement, live shipment and delivery tracking, plus invoice and payment management. Presently launching in the U.S. and Mexico, it affords contractors greater control over projects and—through administrative burden reduction—additional time to focus on strategic business matters.

Cemex officials see the platform as central to a “sweeping digital transformation.” Cemex Go-equipped customers can work anytime, anywhere using desktop and mobile devices; review their history of transactions; track concrete loads in real time; receive instant order status notifications; adjust orders; plus, have full visibility and transparency of needed information. Cemex credits IT services partners behind the new application with helping “to deliver game-changing solutions that provide a superior customer experience.”

A day after the Cemex Go unveiling, Command Alkon opened Elevate 2017, a two-day gathering with agenda significantly departing from past annual conferences. CEO Phil Ramsey, Vice President of Products Chris Strickland and Vice President of Engineering Charles Evans challenged their audience of 500-plus COMMANDseries, COMMANDbatch, Apex, FiveCubits and Integra users to grasp the a) parallels between their business-to-business operations and two business-to-consumer service and product brands; and, b) role of analytics and Big Data in anticipating construction market conditions driving profitability and growth.

From the Hilton Riverside New Orleans stage, they offered a novel look at how Uber Technologies and Domino’s Pizza leverage IoT-grade, vehicle- and temperature-tracking technology to improve the Customer Experience. Compared to traditional taxi hailing, Uber in many instances offers timelier rides at lower cost in more desirable vehicles. The Domino’s Tracker application, on other hand, allows customers to follow orders from oven to their front doors, knowing baked goods arrive at or very near an optimal 162° serving temperature.

The Command Alkon executives examined how the sensors and GPS-enabled services powering Uber rides and Domino’s Tracker can inform delivery of ready mixed concrete. They underscored the potential of premium pricing for a typical 9-yd. load in the face of improved value and customer experience a contractor would realize with timely concrete mix data relay and tight quality control. Ramsey, Strickland and Evans concluded with a look at how some of the company’s newest desktop and mobile offerings position producers to emulate applicable Uber and Domino’s processes in concrete, aggregate, cement or asphalt supply chain and inventory management, production, quality control, fleet operations and customer service.

The Customer Experience ideal presented in New Orleans turns on Command Alkon’s newest technology: A drum probe measuring real-time slump, temperature and other properties of ready mixed concrete in transit or at point of placement. COMMANDassurance combines a stainless steel probe anchored by an exterior, drum-mounted solar panel plus a receiver logging data from accelerometer, load cell and thermistor sensors. Now in beta phase testing, it is based on a design Command Alkon acquired from IBB Rheology Inc., Quebec, and modified for its namesake suite. Upon COMMANDassurance general release, the company envisions users launching mobile device applications for customers to monitor arriving loads’ slump, temperature and other quality control metrics—in the spirit of Domino’s Tracker.

Command Alkon, Cemex and other enterprising concrete production and delivery stakeholders are raising the customer experience bar just as contractors lean more on technology in the face of taxing schedules, tight labor availability throughout the trades, and ever-demanding owners.