Creating Value at Your Plant
Second, they bring improved services to the customers. Producers have found that customers are willing to pay more for their product when they receive other valuable services.
New truck management systems are good examples of technologies that increase both delivery and service value. Trucking is a huge cost both in time and money, and improved truck management can net large returns. More producers are now using some form of truck identification system to reduce the in-yard times of trucks. Identifying the truck when it enters the yard allows the producer to more quickly fulfill the truck’s order. Some systems use RFID tags installed in the trucks to identify the trucks, while others use truck ID cards or driver entry of a code into a kiosk keypad to identify the truck. Regardless of identification method, the systems work the same way. When an ID is entered, the system matches the truck to an entry in its database and determines what materials the truck is there to pick up. In the case of an asphalt batch plant, the system and the operator might begin preparing the material before the truck pulls under the bin. And in the case of silo loadout, the system can quickly and efficiently use automated electronic signage to direct the truck to the correct silo. No matter how it is accomplished, the result is much faster truck turn around.
Kiosks, whether using RFID or keypads, can dramatically reduce in-yard time. The term kiosk is used to describe a number of different types of remote data entry or printout locations. It may be as simple as a card swipe terminal at the entrance to a site. Or it may be more sophisticated like the kiosk technology that gives the driver the option of selecting or changing products, customers, and job identification, all without scale house intervention.
Other uses of kiosks include remote ticket printing. Using these systems, trucks are on the scale for less time because, once the weight is captured, the truck can move off the scale to the printing kiosk. The driver retrieves the ticket without leaving the truck.
The new systems provide unprecedented flexibility to the operator. Remote devices such as printers, kiosks, and interactive electronic signage are highly cost effective, and installation designs can be customized to needs of the site.
As wireless technology improves, more low-cost options are being offered to site operators. Wireless loader notification systems for use in aggregate loadout are growing in popularity. Paired with a self-service kiosk, the concept is remarkably simple, but provides significant payback in reduced truck in-yard time. Envision a truck entering the yard to pick up a load of #2 crushed rock. The truck is identified as it comes into the yard, either by a manual entry into a kiosk or by RFID, which doesn’t require the truck to stop. The site’s computer system knows that the truck is to be loaded with #2 crushed rock. The truck is directed to the materials pile using electronic signage while the loader operator is notified that he has to meet a truck at the correct materials pile. By the time the truck arrives, the order has been wirelessly transmitted to a display on the front loader. The operator knows exactly what and how much material is to be loaded on the tuck. There is no need for the drivers to get out of the truck to speak to the loader operator.
The outside ring of the value model is the area of enhanced value, offers significant opportunity for value improvement, but is the last to be addressed by new technology. It also is the last area to see improvement because systems that address the enhanced value creation opportunity need to be built on a foundation created by other site automation technology.
Enhanced value is created by helping customers maximize their profitability and increasing the customers’ perceptions of the value of the products. It is a marvelously cost effective way to increase value because it doesn’t involve costly manufacturing solutions. Instead, incremental value comes from providing services that make the customer’s business more competitive and, as a result, justifies higher prices for the producer’s materials. Any time you can add value to a customer’s business, you are adding value to your business.
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