Concrete producers face a multitude of challenges. These include effectively deploying and utilizing their resources to reduce nonproductive truck time, improving on-time deliveries, reducing delivery costs, assuring timely invoicing, and decreasing the dispatcher's workload.

The solution is a central dispatching program, ideally integrated with truck tracking. Centralized order taking and dispatching helps make day-to-day operations more efficient.

Such products are available, but they mostly target large operations, rather than the smaller ones that don't have big IT department budgets. Thus, many small or medium concrete producers have not yet implemented a central dispatch system, even when they know it absolutely helps them become more efficient.

The hassle of setting up and maintaining a central dispatching system has stopped these producers from embracing this powerful tool. The concrete producer with only a few plants must not only buy the dispatching software, but also a computer server. The dispatch program has to be installed in all the computers that have access to the dispatch.

Then, Local Area Networks (LAN) and Wide Area Networks (WAN) must be built. Other concerns include a server and how to load the programs to the computers and what happens during a lightning strike?

Producers can implement a state-of-art central dispatch system without a big upfront investment in hardware, software, or IT specialists and still get the traditional dispatch functions and even more from a desktop browser for a modest annual fee.

Sysdyne, a provider of batching automation systems based in Stamford, Conn., recently launched Concrete-Go.com, its Web-based central dispatching pilot program.

Software on-demand

The dispatcher can log onto the Web site to enter all orders, deploy trucks, send tickets to the batching computers, and transfer tickets to their accounting system for billing. The online central dispatch has changed the idea from buying software to renting software over the Web, a concept known as software on-demand or software-as-service.

Here, the software company is responsibile for hosting, maintaining and upgrading the software and hardware of the end user's IT staff. There is no hardware to procure, no large, up-front license fee, and no complex set-ups. The technology is particularly valuable to small companies, since most of them could not afford sophisticated software in the past. Even better, if the software isn't to a customer's liking, they just stop paying.

Low cost and simplicity are not the only advantages of an online central dispatch program. It also improves on many aspects of a traditional central dispatching program.