Superior Ready Mix: Where Innovation Lives

In an era of continual investments, divestments and mergers of large, global materials producers, it’s easy to view the “big players” as agents of change. But look closely: true innovation is second nature to regional leaders like Superior Ready Mix, a family-owned and operated producer of concrete, asphalt and aggregates based in Escondido, Calif.

The company began in 1958 as Escondido Ready Mix Concrete Inc. with one small plant and a handful of small mixer trucks. In 1989, the business expanded and was renamed Superior Ready Mix Concrete L.P. Five family members of the second generation became partners and managers in the business. Today, the company produces and delivers concrete, aggregate, and asphalt to customers throughout Southern California.

Faced with a challenging regulatory environment, limited labor pool, and construction materials increasingly becoming a precious resource, Superior takes every opportunity to raise the bar. While pursuing excellence in its own operations, it leads the way by investing in process, equipment and work environment improvements.

Photo: Superior Ready Mix

Superior Ready Mix’s long-term outlook has allowed it to serve employees and customers for more than 65 years, according to Director of Technology and Automation Jeff Cooper. “On the resources front, we have been working to improve efficiencies and tighten our quality control measures to make sure that we are making the most of the precious resources available,” he says.

In California, water is a big issue, so recycling storm and process water is a priority for the company. Superior has incorporated water recycling and treatment into its plant layouts. This ensures that all water runoff collected is either reused or clean enough to leave the site. The company must pass random state inspections for water quality.

 The producer is also committed to recycling materials, coordinating efforts between its concrete and aggregate operations. Superior uses washed sand from its quarries in concrete mixes. Leftover concrete from mixer trucks is dumped at the plants, then crushed and sold as recycled aggregate.

To not only meet, but exceed California environmental standards for fleet emissions, the producer has installed dozens of CNG (compressed natural gas) ports from Ozinga Energy to fuel its fleet and has incorporated recycled materials into the day-to-day operations of its aggregate business.

Superior has replaced much of its traditional diesel fleet with renewable natural gas-powered trucks and clean diesel models to reduce emissions and create a sustainable future.

The company is also looking to replace its yellow iron with larger, more efficient machines that are more comfortable for employees. This upgrade will optimize efficiency and minimize fuel consumption by modernizing and right sizing all off-road equipment.

“It is a lot easier to recruit top talent when you have the best equipment,” notes Cooper.

Superior Ready Mix recently installed a solar array and CNG/RNG fueling infrastructure at the Escondido corporate headquarters. Ozinga Energy positioned 50 slow fill and two fast fill natural gas ports along two truck or car parking rows (above, background) paralleling the rear of the property. A short utility building with 12 overhead doors (upper right) houses the natural gas compressors and companion fueling equipment. The CNG/RNG fueling infrastructure followed an earlier installation at the producer’s Indio, Calif. plant (below).

Superior Ready Mix drives continuous improvement and efficiency by investing in technology—both internally and for customers—from fleet management to materials inventory solutions.

Overall, the company is working across all its concrete, aggregate and asphalt plants to improve the efficiency of its processes. These improvements include optimizing asphalt plant burners to minimize the amount of fuel needed to heat the material; replacing older equipment with larger, more efficient machines; installing large energy storage batteries at all sites to minimize draw from the grid; and, adding CNG fueling stations at four locations to minimize the use of diesel fuel. Superior is securing permits for solar and battery projects and just powered up its first solar array atop the corporate headquarters office.

“The last couple of years we have been reviewing our complete tech stack to optimize opportunities for efficiencies and improve how we do everything, from loading a truck to sending out schedules,” Cooper says. “We have added radar to our silos and tanks to have a live view of our cement and fuel inventories. We are automating our rock plants to optimize how they start and minimize downtime. We have moved to a digital scheduling system that is easier for our employees to access and we improved our telematics to get better data to analyze how our operations are performing.”

Superior also deploys technology from Digital Fleet to help eliminate waste. The producer uses the firm’s tablets in concrete, aggregate and powder trucks to track orders, communicate with drivers and manage mixer driver schedules. Superior is also currently in the initial stages of testing Digital Fleet+ to get even more data from its trucks, which will allow managers to better monitor product quality and driver performance and give customers better information.

Water is collected at the Escondido headquarters plant to be reused or settled to levels sufficient to leave the site. Along with capturing and reusing as much storm and process water as possible, Superior Ready Mix crushes hardened, leftover concrete, selling it as recycled aggregate.

Superior also recently rolled out the Material Pro app from BCMI internally for employees to be able to have better visibility on operations. Material Pro captures real-time, in-depth operations data. Intuitive navigation gives producers access to performance data and customer records from the past, present and future. With this technology, Cooper notes, Superior has seen operational improvements at its plants, increased batch accuracy and efficiency in driver schedules. Material Pro has also given the sales and quality control teams better insight into real-time activities across Superior’s operations.

“Superior plants the flag for innovation and proves that better, more responsible behavior can be combined with profitable operations even in one of the most challenging markets in North America,” says BCMI President and Co-founder Craig Yeack.

Superior is committed to continued innovation and serving as a responsible member of the industry and community. “We take our responsibility to be good stewards of our resources seriously and provide great jobs for our employees,” Cooper affirms. “Superior would be nothing without the great people who work here, and technological innovation helps us to give them the tools they need to do a Superior job every day.”

Jennifer Jensen is Media & Public Relations Specialist for Redmond, Wash.-based BCMI. She has more than 17 years of journalism and media experience. She spent nine years writing and editing for mining and construction-specific publications.