Concrete Company Improves their Bottom Line and Productivity
Commercial Ready Mix Products, Inc. (CRMP) is a diversified ready-mix concrete producer. CRMP is a family-owned business headquartered in Winton, NC, with over 40 years of experience in the concrete industry. With ready-mix plants located in North Carolina and Virginia, CRMP serves commercial, governmental, and residential customers over a 110-mile radius. The company philosophy reflects a long-held commitment to retain the best personnel, invest in the latest technology and equipment/fleet, while providing excellent customer service. This philosophy remains the foundation for CRMP’s future as it moves forward in the ready-mix and hauling industry.
CRMP has grown steadily over 4 decades. What started out as one small batch plant and two mixer trucks in 1975, has grown into over 13 batch plants and a fleet of over 100 trucks. The company employs over 170 people throughout North Carolina and Virginia. CRMP also operates a sand and gravel operation with a fleet of quad-axle dump trucks and tractor-trailer hauling units.
With increasing fleet size, came rising communication costs as well. Andrew Eger, who had been with CRMP for over 4 years, was the Communications and Distribution Technology Manager and set out on a mission to find a cost-effective solution that would simplify and improve communications between fleet drivers and dispatch centers. As part of a company-wide initiative to modernize communications, Andrew Eger wanted a high-tech alternative to the analog and digital radios the company was currently using.
The two-way radios were becoming too expensive to use due to their associated costs for:
- Replacement and repair of radios that cost hundreds of dollars each. Repairs became time-consuming because outdated parts became difficult to find.
- Radio towers, bulky repeaters and their maintenance. Expedient repairs relied on the tower owners.
- Maintenance and periodic replacement of over 10,000 feet of copper antenna wire located on silos and towers. Under harsh environmental conditions, the wire had to be replaced every few years.
- Replacement of antennas if hit by lighting.
Andrew Eger first heard about Zello push-to-talk (PTT) from a vendor that provided fleet management software with Zello integrated into its software for push-to-talk communications. Zello sounded like an ideal and cost-effective replacement for two-way radios, as it didn’t require any special equipment or dedicated towers. It ran on any cellular data or Wi-Fi connection.
As part of a trial, CRMP upgraded and outfitted all its trucks with Samsung tablets. Zello was loaded onto all the tablets, along with fleet management and MDM software. The trial lasted a few months. Using a network with 4 defined channels, Zello was installed on over 120 tablets and all the computers in the dispatch centers. Drivers could talk to other drivers or dispatch centers within their region quickly and easily using one button. Trucks were also equipped with rugged Savox speaker/mics, so audio was loud and clear even when the trucks were running.
At the end of the trial, communications between drivers and dispatch improved greatly and Zello proved an invaluable tool. There was very little, to no, downtime and, as long as there was a cellular signal, drivers could communicate from anywhere. CRMP no longer needed dedicated towers, repeaters, antenna wiring, or bulky radios mounted in trucks and offices to ensure area-wide coverage. Besides improving communications, production increased greatly as well.
By eliminating the need for dedicated radio towers, “the company has saved a considerable amount per month in just tower fees and repairs alone” according to Andrew Eger. Overall, Mr. Eger estimates the company will save tens of thousands of dollars annually by switching entirely from radios to Zello.
More importantly, Zello allows drivers and dispatchers to instantly keep in touch when it matters. Zello is integrated into CRMP’s fleet management software for a seamless driver experience. All Zello users, devices, channels, and settings are managed from an admin console so drivers aren’t required to do any setup. As a result, training drivers to use Zello was an easy task for Andrew Eger. As he put it, “training drivers to use Zello took all of 10 minutes and you can’t get any simpler than that!”
Drivers simply turn on their tablet and the Savox microphones. From there, they key the microphone for their assigned channel and have the instant ability to speak with drivers one-on-one, the entire channel, or to dispatch. This is especially useful when they need directions or emergency help, ensuring deliveries to customers arrive on time and that drivers are safe while on the road.
Overall, Andrew Eger states that “Zello has definitely improved customer response times, employee experience and productivity” and plans to expand its implementation to over 195 Zello installations this year.