In response to the coronavirus pandemic, many construction professionals are adopting technologies designed to keep project teams safely distanced. Among the concrete suppliers leading the way is Welsch Ready Mix Inc., based in Oak Forest, Ill.
|Prospects for eliminating contact between drivers, contractors and inspectors make e-Ticketing technology from developers like BCMI an ideal option for transportation departments.
In June, the producer launched an e-Ticketing pilot program to minimize physical contact between mixer truck drivers and their customers. The pilot is for an Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) road paving project along Interstate 55 in Romeoville, with Welsch providing up to 15,000 yd. of concrete and 8,000 yd. of flowable fill for paving contractor R.W. Dunteman, based in Addison. Welsch worked with cloud-based dispatch provider BCMI Corp. to deploy the paperless ticketing solution.
“We’ve been considering e-Ticketing for a long time, to reduce time and costs associated with printing, passing around and manually annotating paper tickets that must then be scanned and filed. Then Covid-19 happened, which motivated us to accelerate implementation for social distancing,” says Welsch Director of Information Technology Jon Brouwers.
HOW E-TICKETING WORKS
Welsch uses the BCMI platform and mobile apps to provide on-demand access to operational and customer information—plant volumes, quotes, project history, truck statuses, etc. Internal team members use the Material Pro app to retrieve information anytime, from anywhere. Customers are given the Material Now app to track orders in real time.
The IDOT pilot project is trialing BCMI’s new digital ticket and signature features, which allow Welsch customers to receive paperless tickets and sign for deliveries with a few swipes of a finger on their own devices. The eTicket is sent by text when the truck leaves the plant. When the load is delivered, the contractor can either open the ticket in Material Now and tap the “eSign” button or respond by text with the truck number to confirm delivery—whichever is most convenient, says Brouwers.
|Welsch Ready Mix worked with cloud-based dispatch provider BCMI Corp. to implement touchless ticketing for a summer Illinois DOT paving project. E-Ticketing helps reduce paper waste and keep workers socially distanced. SITE PHOTOS: Zach Eenigenburg, Welsch Ready Mix
The eTicket can be digitally shared with other stakeholders: inspectors, transportation departments and other contractors. It includes all information found in a traditional paper ticket plus data captured from a truck’s sensors, such as water added after batch. Anyone on the project team can track progress load-by-load in real time. Each person can review, export and print tickets as needed.
“From my phone, I can track down tickets, production, downtimes, delivery times, which trucks are keeping up and whether they are mixers or dumps,” says Dominic Caputo, Concrete Division general manager with R.W. Dunteman. “It’s great for record-keeping and helps me gauge what’s on the road at all times.”
The pilot program was developed to include IDOT engineers in the process. The agency is using Material Now for mobile access to past and future project information, as well as truck tracking for Welsch deliveries. Inspectors are testing a Notes field in the app, which allows all parties to record information, like field test results and approved/rejected loads and reasons.
Before the project began, Welsch and BCMI worked with Illinois Ready Mixed Concrete Association Executive Director Jim Randolph to coordinate a focus group that included team members from R.W. Dunteman and IDOT. BCMI provided training and used feedback to add fields required by IDOT to the eTicket, such as end-load times (finishing loading).
“This project went beyond my expectations for a first run,” says Randolph, who has been working with the IDOT Materials and Construction Central Bureau for two years regarding e-Ticketing. “It was debugged with just a few tweaks, with suggested improvements added almost instantly.”
The IDOT project is scheduled to be complete spring 2021, with most of this year’s heavy paving work finished by August. Welsch is already working with other contractors to implement e-Ticketing in their projects.
“We see this as the wave of the future, not just for Covid-19 reasons,” says Welsch President Mike DeJong. “Sharing information electronically is the best solution for being as transparent and efficient with our processes as possible.”
Victoria Sicaras is a freelance writer based in Countryside, Ill. She has 15 years of experience working as a writer and editor serving the construction industry.