With a growing population and just over 6,000 active sand and gravel mines in the U.S., the demand for sand and gravel is growing. It is growing more and more important for the aggregate industry to be innovative in order to increase efficiency, and become more earth-conscious. Last month, our team attended the ConExpo-Con/Agg in Las Vegas, Nevada. At this event we learned different tips and tricks to help improve safety and increase efficiency.
Data ROI plays a crucial role in understanding how your aggregate services work at a granular level. At the expo we learned about KPI’s and analytics, and which metrics are most important to measure. These metrics include delivery time, (the time it takes from when the order is submitted to customer’s satisfaction), order fill rate, material quality, service accuracy, service performance and customer satisfaction. All of these KPI’s are relatively easy to measure, document and improve.
It is also important to measure, document and improve on business data that is not as easy to see. Some of the harder KPI’s to measure include product awareness, staff engagement rate and staff knowledge. How do we measure how our employees are improving their knowledge base? The answer is more simple than it sounds, we create plans with benchmarks, we take our employees to conferences, and we create an environment that promotes learning and development.
Product placement is an important metric to measure, and it is often forgotten about in the aggregate industry. Whether it is pea gravel or river rock, it is crucial for our Eugene community and our digital footprint to accurately display what products we sell. The most important way to review product placement is with sales. Which products are selling the most? Which products are selling the least? In this era of digital media, it is also important to measure your online product placement. To measure product placement digitally, you can use Google Analytics and other digital marketing tools, depending on how big your digital footprint is.
After you measure the data as a company as a whole, you can begin to really analyze your processes and figure out how to become more efficient. Efficiency is important for more than just sales, it also improves safety, which is particularly important to Delta Sand & Gravel.
As mentioned in our earlier blog, The Future of Technology in the Construction Industry, the first way to improve efficiency is through technologies such as autonomy, drones and top-of-the-line equipment. But there are more ways to improve efficiency beside just technology.
The most effective way to improve efficiency is to maintain safety with proper training. With proper training, there is a lower likelihood of errors occurring, and more time can be spent actually performing work rather than responding to safety incidences.
There are two effective ways to improve efficiency in the gravel extraction process. The first way is to optimize truck patterns, so that trucks are working efficiently and with a minimum of delays on their routes. This goes along with optimizing the pit layout, so that there is less distance for trucks to travel. If your operation allows for it, you can also install conveyor belts to transport materials rather than trucks. Conveyor belts do however require significant planning and capital investment, and are not suitable for all operations.
Another way to improve efficiency is to stay updated on demand (analytics and data helps with this). With this information, you can create action plans for when equipment needs to be maintained, and build up a stockpile of products that have predictable demand patterns. This will reduce operations impacts during a peak season, because you will know when your peak season is and can take preparatory measures.
Reducing Energy Costs
It is also important to keep energy costs down. One way to keep energy costs down is to reduce idle time. On some job sites, employees leave their trucks on while checking in and monitoring equipment. A great solution to reduce idle times is to create a “no idle zone,” while working on certain projects.
As our friends at Knife River said, “One of the biggest ways to save fuel is to eliminate unnecessary engine idling,” says Ned Pettit, Knife River’s environmental manager. “There’s a very good business case for it because fuel costs are so substantial; they are really a major bottom-line item.”
At Knife River, they created a solution called “Shut Down and Save,” which helps to reduce idle times and decrease energy costs. Last year Delta invested in EROADS. It is a leading transport technology and services company that has helped us become more efficient. One thing EROADS allows us to do is monitor unnecessary fuel idle time. Joining programs like this will help reduce energy costs and will help us become more eco-friendly.
Our team is always inspired to learn more within our industry, and the ConExpo- Con/Agg inspired us to keep learning so that we can be innovative. To learn more about our process and how to be innovative within the industry, keep following our blog!