At the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association's 25th Annual Operations and Equipment Maintenance Forum & Expo held Nov. 16, 1997, in Atlanta, Mr. Morris was one in a group of industry leaders asked to describe "The Plant of the Future" and gave this presentation.– The industry has experienced one common problem: islands of automation. One process does not communicate with another. For example, trucks deliver concrete on time, but receipt tickets without prices find their way to the billing office. This brings me to the future.

Equipment: Personal computers and computer networks are improving, and increased data storage capabilities are available. Programming languages are becoming more powerful yet easier to adapt to individual company requirements. Global positioning systems (GPS) will maintain and automatically update truck-pass locations and delivery-address databases for even "smarter" truck-tracking software that makes real-time observations and schedule changes.

Bridges between islands of automation: In the future, producers will find Internet connectivity via telephone lines or even satellite a plausible and cost-effective solution for effective dispatching to plants from a central location. A broader and accessible network will connect producers to their main office, dispatch, cement terminals, credit bureaus, customers and maybe even trucks via their own Web. I encourage all of us to keep these interface options open and available to allow the ready-mixed producer the option to combine technologies, manufacturers and version changes.

Automating the plant: Increased computer speed and programming will allow more complex batching sequences. Asynchronous batching, due to increased computer capacity, will allow multiple, same-time scale operations during multiple batches. Batching systems will be expanded to handle plants designed with multiple wet and dry loading lanes or multiple dry batch lanes at the same time. Controlling water and moisture measurements will be even easier. Batching systems will increase their monitoring of aggregate and mix temperatures.

Keywords:software, computer, automation, GPS