Four years ago when Andy O'Brien started Homeland Ready Mix, he knew he needed a competitive edge. It seems he found it. From his one plant near Parsons, Kan., O'Brien has competed effectively and profitably with only 16 trucks.

His plan was to employ as much automation as he could afford. O'Brien's knew his operation had to be well-managed to compete with the larger producers who service the area.

He began by investing in a batching system. He says it has worked well for him. The plant operator batches orders quickly and consistently. Four years later, O'Brien is looking for another advantage. In the hyper world of computers and software, the producer is investigating what new technology he can afford. “I'm thinking it might be time to upgrade,” he says. His primary focus is to find an automated truck dispatching system that blends into the batching system.

O'Brien believes new dispatching software will streamline his order scheduling. His goal is to eke out a few more deliveries on busy days. The small producer hopes investing in the software will have a fast payback. O'Brien plans to increase delivery yardage, without buying a new truck mixer.

The software offers another advantage. As Homeland's business has increased, O'Brien wants a way to keep his customer service streamlined. Some of the dispatching systems O'Brien is studying accomplish this by transferring the initial order entry directly to the batching system. These systems also will help evaluate truck utilization and driver performance.

O'Brien isn't worried about his next investment. He's planning to grow. His selection sheet includes dispatch systems that are scaleable. These can be upgraded to work with bigger fleets, higher demand, more complex mixes, and multiple plants. So, regardless of size, O'Brien can upgrade to a newer version, increasing the opportunity to become more efficient and profitable.

Web-hosted fleet management system

The eFleet hosted fleet management system includes wireless dispatching, real-time communications, and GPS positioning. It works with any wireless carrier or mobile device, including Web-enabled cell phones, PDAs, or mobile data terminals. As a monthly service, it includes regular upgrades on features such as Order Entry, Scheduling/Dispatching, eFleetMap, and Driver Communication. Digital Dispatch Systems Inc. 888-821-9321.

Streamline order entry and ticketing

COMMANDconcrete dispatch system can improve fleet efficiency and increase profits by streamlining order entry and ticketing. The system provides flexibility, letting you cancel, reactivate, or move orders quickly. You also can integrate your concrete batching system using the Batching Interface Module. The Windows-based system can be adapted for almost any ready-mix operation. Command Alkon. 800-624-1872.

Schedule out idle time

Keystone Dispatch helps get the most out of the ready-mix truck and the driver. It can squeeze extra loads by scheduling out idle time. It also helps promote good customer service, allowing producers to adjust delivery times to match real-world conditions. The system can be adapted for almost any size operation and can be linked with GPS vehicle tracking and other plant systems. GivenHansco Inc. 866-310-0060.