Like a rock

Vehicle productivity is the business foundation for concrete mixersStability in construction has meant lots of work for ready-mixed concrete producers. But the competition is tough. Not only must they find their niche in the market, but to prosper they also need to seek out ways to utilize their vehicles to the fullest.Take the Dallas-Fort Worth area, for example. Construction is booming, but according

Vehicle productivity is the business foundation for concrete mixers

Stability in construction has meant lots of work for ready-mixed concrete producers. But the competition is tough. Not only must they find their niche in the market, but to prosper they also need to seek out ways to utilize their vehicles to the fullest.

Take the Dallas-Fort Worth area, for example. Construction is booming, but according to Redi-Mix's vp of operations, Tom Muscle, there's lots of competition in town. Quality equipment and customer service, he says, are what's given the company its edge and stimulated growth.

Muscle notes that the truck fleet has transformed over the past several years to mirror the company's commitment to quality. "We've been switching over to Kenworth units for both our mixer and aggregate fleets. Of our 160 mixer trucks, 50% are now Kenworth T800s powered by Caterpillar C10 engines."

Productivity of the fleet, Muscle says, has increased with the Kenworths, which are lighter and more fuel-efficient. "When upgrading the fleet and defining new specs, we analyze all our options carefully. It really pays off in increased performance and driver comfort."

The T800s feature sloped hoods to improve the driver's field of view, plus side, corner, and rear windows for added visibility.

To help make maintenance easier, the company recently began using Kenworth's PremierCare Connect program for online parts ordering. It also uses Transman fleet maintenance software from TMT to help identify warranty issues and premature component failure.

Headquartered in Carrollton, Tex., Redi-Mix has 13 batching facilities located throughout the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex. Business is split between commercial and residential.

Quality of the 200 batch designs Redi-Mix produces is controlled by the company's computerized lab, which employs four full-time quality control technicians. Its central dispatch operations ensure the fleet makes its deliveries on time.

Contractor owned Established just over a year ago, Maricopa Ready Mix is the newest of three locally owned ready-mixed concrete companies serving the Phoenix metropolitan area. One of the things that distinguishes the company from its competitors is its ownership, which is comprised primarily of local concrete contractors.

According to CEO Dave Hudder, mixer trucks are his company's highest fixed cost, so getting the most productivity out of them is the key to profitability. "Our ownership group gives us a distinct advantage since we can use their purchasing requirements to fill in the gaps in our delivery schedules."

Like Maricopa itself, the company's fleet is also new. The 60 identical mixer trucks are 1999 Mack RD (Western Contractor Series) models with Mack electronically controlled diesel engines. The Kimble mixer units also have electronic controls.

To maximize payload capacity, the Macks feature lightweight specs, the weight having been reduced through the use of aluminum components supported by 3/8-in. frame rails and a 20,000-lb.-capacity front axle for improved weight distribution.

For excellent visibility, RD models have a sloped hood, halogen headlamps, and a compact cab with panoramic view. The front axle also has 341/2-in. spring centers to ensure a tight turning radius.

The trucks are all equipped with GPS devices that feed through the Internet to a mobile networking provider.

"Besides vehicle tracking," Hudder says, "we're also currently in the process of developing applications that will allow us to provide information in a form that will be helpful to customers in understanding the work that their crews are doing, as well as to provide accurate data for our truck maintenance program."

Maricopa's primary customers are contractors in residential construction. Currently, the company has two batch plants in operation just outside Phoenix, with a third scheduled to open this month.

"The batch plants," Hudder explains, "are controlled by state-of-the-art computers to ensure proper mixing of the raw materials that go into concrete. When necessary, these plants also can be operated remotely via telephone connections from anywhere, including the central dispatch office in Scottsdale, Ariz."

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