Rocking the Right Load

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By Mark S. Kuhar

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Palm Beach Aggregates in West Palm Beach, Fla., mines and processes approximately 2 million tpy of material.

There is nothing worse in the aggregate business than loading the wrong materials into the wrong truck.

The time and money lost from wrong loads, overloaded trucks and wasted material during the load-out process at quarry operations is becoming a thing of the past thanks to a new technology that uses GeLo Bluetooth Low Energy beacons and a mobile app.

Palm Beach Aggregates in West Palm Beach, Fla., mines and processes 2 million tpy of material for the Florida construction industry, including sand, coral, limestone, course and fine materials for asphalt, cement and concrete and building foundation materials.

But errors were occurring with the company’s paper dispatching system for trucks and loaders.

Finding a Solution

“Trucks were being loaded from a dozen different material stations and overloads or incorrect material loads often occurred,” said Steve Rasmussen, partner for TACInsight, a three-year-old IT-services and software-automation company for the trucking and construction industries.

To solve the problem and reduce loading time, TACInsight created a Bluetooth beacon and mobile communication system for the company that insures loader operators are armed with the same dispatch information available to the scale house dispatchers.

With a coded Bluetooth beacon on every truck for identification, the system verifies the truck has pulled up in front of the correct material station and tracks in real time how long the loading to departure process takes. All of the necessary information for a truck and its load is in the hands of the loader operator on his electronic tablet.

“Our client wanted a simple mobile app that would track and transmit dispatch information that let the loader operators know the right truck was being loaded with the correct material and quantity,” Rasmussen said.

Finding a Source
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Instant information on correct loads is triggered to load operators with onboard screens.

The beacons are from GeLo Inc., a national manufacturer that builds heavy-duty beacons for harsh and rugged environments. TACinsight created the software for loading information that also provides analytics on the time each truck arrives, and tracks it from loading time through ticketing and out the gate.

The Palm Beach Aggregates operation uses a cloud-based mobile application platform that works on Android. In addition, TAC provides quarry and truck analytics operating on web, Android, iOS and Windows Phone.

Palm Beach Aggregates has already seen immediate payback from the system.

“We have caught several drivers who pulled up to be loaded with the wrong material and the loader operator was immediately aware of the mistake,” said Albert Moraques, project manager at Palm Beach Aggregates. “In addition, the amount of material being spoiled due to overloading has been cut by 75 percent,” he said.

The Bluetooth Low Energy beacons from GeLo produce instant wireless information to devices including cell phones and tablets without WiFi or satellite connection.

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The system verifies the truck has pulled up in front of the correct material station and tracks in real time how long the loading to departure process takes.

“TACInsight was looking for an alternative to RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology and found that GeLo’s rugged, waterproof beacons [] to be a perfect fit for their mobile application because the beacons broadcast a persistent Bluetooth signal that enables their loaders to quickly identify a truck by its beacon, direct it to the right loading operator and collect needed analytic information,” said GeLo Vice President of Sales Al Juarez.

A pioneer in the Bluethooth beacon communication field, GeLo beacons are designed for rugged outdoor environments like trucking. Enclosed in waterproof UV-rated ABS plastic, the beacons have an IP66 dust/ moisture rating and provide a unique identifier for each beacon.

TACInsight specializes in developing technology solutions for the trucking and construction industries to best serve customer needs.

“Our Fast-Track application allows contractors, DOTs, haulers, and quarries to track material loads from quarries and material sources to a project, using just a smart phone and simple cloud-based web enabled solutions,” said Rasmussen. s

Information for this article courtesy of TACInsight.