Truck Tracking and Telematics in the Heavy Building Materials Supply Chain

Over the past couple of years we’ve seen increased demand for truck tracking and telematics solutions, and this is particularly true in the Heavy Building Materials industry. Why is demand growing for these solutions?  What are some of the key capabilities companies are looking for? How are these solutions delivering value? Those are some of the topics I discussed in a recent Talking Logistics episode with Ryan Winter, Global Technical Sales Manager at FiveCubits.

Unique Challenges of Heavy Building Materials Supply Chain

The first thing to understand about the Heavy Building Materials industry’s supply chain is that their processes are quite different than for most other manufacturing or retail businesses. They are more similar to heavy equipment manufacturers in that they have very large, often irregularly shaped products that must be transported to an ever-changing list of construction and building sites.

That poses some unique challenges when attempting to drive efficiencies and service excellence. Ryan points out that the suppliers, haulers, and contractors in this industry today are operating as separate entities with very little integration compared with the more standardized supplier-carrier-customer relationships in other industries. Ryan notes, however, that due to competitive pressure there is rising interest in increasing efficiency in these supply chains. And that is driving strong interest in truck tracking and telematics.

Ryan explains, “Companies want to know what their employees are doing, what is my equipment doing, can I do more with the people and equipment I have? Can I take on more jobs without more people and equipment? That becomes an efficiency issue, which starts with cutting out non-productive time through the visibility offered by telematics.”

Truck Tracking and Telematics: Benefits Beyond Efficiency

Truck tracking enables haulers to reroute or re-optimize loads based on changing conditions or events. Beyond that, technologies such as geo-fencing and workforce management can help haulers better understand how long it is taking to load or unload equipment, how long a driver is waiting for a load at a supplier, or how long it takes to perform on-site work such as pouring cement, as well as other dwell times at the contractor site. This can help haulers drive efficiency and potentially support charges to suppliers and contractors.

It is much more than just an efficiency issue for the haulers, however. Ryan notes that customer service issues are also key. You don’t want to shut down a major construction site because the I-beams or roof trusses don’t arrive on time. That’s where supply chain technology and integration come in. Contractors want to know if a shipment is going to be late, whether that is a truck held up due to weather delays or a supplier whose production line has a problem. “Providing this level of supply chain visibility can differentiate haulers in the marketplace,” says Ryan.

Integration is the key to providing this visibility across the supply chain. Ryan explains that, “individual solutions can each give you a piece of the puzzle, but you can’t see the whole picture without integrating the solutions together across the supply chain. That’s what contractors want so they can more efficiently schedule their work.”

Given the rising interest in truck tracking and telematics, what are the benefits to using these technologies and what are the business cases that can help cost-justify the purchase and implementation? What steps should companies go through to ensure a successful implementation and what are the hurdles to look out for? You can get the answers to these questions and further insights into the Heavy Building Materials industry by watching the rest of my conversation with Ryan. Then post a question or comment and keep the conversation going!

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