How do you track batching accuracy and improve product consistency across hundreds of ready-mix concrete plants at once? Josh Funderburk, quality assurance manager at Argos USA, faced this challenge after the Alpharetta, Ga.-based producer expanded significantly through acquisitions in high-volume markets.
Funderburk was using a semi-manual scoring system to rank about 80 plants by how closely final concrete mixes matched batch panel targets. Plant accuracy generally improved, but it took about 10 days to analyze and compile the prior month’s data, so results were always outdated.
Godwin Amekuedi, director, innovation for Argos USA, approached Quadrel to help improve the process. The Pittsburgh-based software company had been developing a new product to analyze data from its Closed Loop Integration (CLI) system using a patent-pending statistical approach to assess plant performance in real time.
For three months, the companies worked together to implement Argos’ scoring method within the new iQ product. Argos had begun a regional trial of CLI in 2012, hoping to better use materials and operate more efficiently. “If you don’t ensure consistency, you pay a price,” says Farro Radjy, president of Quadrel. “Materials can account for over 50% of producers’ costs, so just a 1% change in material costs hurts profitability by 10%.”
“For the first time, producers can see real-time plant performance in one work center, compare plants with automated benchmarking, assess product consistency, and leverage best practices into an operational standard,” says Radjy.
Since installing Quadrel iQ, Argos can easily track material waste, identify its costs of deviating from mix designs, and monitor each plant’s accuracy. “Now that we can see what’s happening in real time, we’ve moved from being reactive to proactive,” says Funderburk. In the future, analyzing data on the fly is going to become more the rule than the exception. The producer is also testing Quadrel’s mGauge, iQ’s mobile app.