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Blog November 2020 Updated November 2021

How to improve agility in building materials distribution

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Jan Tønder Intelligent Optimization Solution Advisor

The global market for building materials is on the rise. The upcoming year’s global growth will be driven by rapid industrialisation and urbanisation, and the increase in mega construction projects.

All building materials sectors can profit from this upward trend, including cement, ready-mix and aggregates. To convert these positive developments into actual business benefits, companies will depend on how well they optimise operations and implement economies of scale. Becoming more is agile is one of the key elements in overcoming this challenge.

Agility provides the building materials industry with the ability to be proactive, not reactive. It enhances flexibility when adapting to changing situations. But vital to success is a coherent digital transformation strategy - across lines of business, be it ready-mix delivery, cement distribution, or full loads and aggregate transportation. Well executed digital transformation automates and streamlines processes. As a result, digitalisation can reduce planning time by up to 75%. Additionally, it lowers mileage and hours driven, and consequently CO2 emissions - by up to 25%. Furthermore, digitalisation contributes to up to 10% fewer vehicles deployed and improves customer service by up to 33%.

Extract maximum value by driving efficiently

Built on years of experience and industry-specific knowledge, AMCS has come up with an innovative solution to meet the specific characteristics of the building materials sector. This state-of-the-art transportation optimisation system includes several unique features for the different types of building materials: ready-mix concrete, cement, aggregates, prefab, metal products and other building material products. This is not only about the trucks and the drivers either. All manner of other parameters can be assimilated into the planning, like inventory levels, automated billing for waiting time or equipment rental, traffic jams en route, vehicle breakdowns – the possibilities are endless.

Ready-mix concrete: supporting planning recipes and across plants

The rich functionality covers every aspect of the distribution and transportation of building materials. For instance, for ready-mix the solution includes automatic splitting of sales orders into loads according to vehicle capacities, ensuring a steady flow of loads during larger deliveries, complete with shuttle delivery and time between loads or cubic meters delivered per hour. The solution also covers planning according to recipes and production sites’ production capabilities, planning across plants and sharing of vehicles. Additionally, the solution also provides for real-time execution and re-optimisation, based on order adjustments, urgent orders and real-time communication with GPS tracker, mobile systems and production system status.

Cement: live monitoring and on-going real-time re-optimisation

The AMCS optimisation solution also provides a suite of functionalities for cement distribution and transportation. For instance it enables planning with multiple silo locations and multiple loading heads per silo, loading for vehicles with several compartments per truck and trailer, and also to plan both bulk transport and bag distribution in the same system. Additionally the solution includes en route redirection of loads to customers experiencing sudden dry running, monitoring of customers’ stock levels as well as forecasting and planning of next cement delivery and the live monitoring of execution and on-going re-optimisation of plan in real time.

Potential benefits

This advanced IT system provides the building materials industry with a considerable benefit by improving the operational efficiency significantly and achieving significant savings in transportation costs. Practise shows an increase of 15 to 25% in the number of delivered full loads per vehicle (ready-mix) and 10 to 20% reduction of miles driven for other distribution and transportation types.

Additionally, the AMCS solution can bring about a reduction of 5 to 10% in the number of vehicles required. Furthermore, remarkable improvement in customer service levels can be made, including the ability to meet tight time windows. And that’s not all, the time spent on planning and resource scheduling can be lowered by 30 to 75%, while time spent on registration and follow-up is reduced by 30 to 60%. Lastly, but certainly not least there is the opportunity to greatly enhance employee satisfaction within the  industry as a whole, due to a stress-free planning and order-entry environment.

Case Study: Unicon - a significant increase in fleet productivity

Unicon is a leading ready-mixed concrete manufacturer, part of the Aalborg Portland Group and a subsidiary of Italian multinational Cementir Holding. The AMCS Concrete Planner solution allows Unicon to manage all of the elements associated with the successful delivery of ready-mix concrete in a real-time and on-line environment. As a result, the company has increased the number of deliveries per truck per day by 20 to 25% and saw up to 5% increase in revenues resulting from more accurate charging of waiting time.

“AMCS Concrete Planner has supported us in developing a highly efficient and flexible delivery model which has significantly increased the productivity of our fleet”, says System Coordinator, Hans-Christian Wattum. “The increased automation of our systems and the adoption of mobile technology has significantly improved our ability to capture additional costs such as waiting time and ensure it is billed fairly and accurately.”

For more information, take a look at the website, including webinars about aggregates distribution, cement distribution and ready-mix concrete distribution.

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