Issue Vol18 Iss7
Building a better future
Command Alkon’s software and technology solutions have helped heavy building materials suppliers, haulers and buyers digitize, automate and improve their operations, projects and supply chain workflows
Look around today and there are a number of construction technology providers that develop solutions that solve problems across multiple industries or sectors. What allows Command Alkon to stand out among its peers is the fact that it is deeply focused on the use cases of the heavy building materials supply chain, particularly with ready mix, asphalt, aggregate, cement, and trucking.
Founded in 1976 as Command Data and with an initial strategy of improving office operations for ready mix producers, it quickly expanded its product range to include technology solutions for the dispatch and production sides of the ready mix business. Then, in the year 2000, Command Data would merge with Alkon, kick starting an expansion into offerings for quality control, telematics, business analytics, and all aspects specifically related to ready mix. The company continued to evolve its portfolio throughout the next decade to include solutions for aggregates, asphalt, and cement suppliers, hauling operations, and general contractors.
Most recently, Command Alkon launched its CONNEX Platform in 2019 to deliver a digital supply chain experience enabling materials suppliers, haulers, and buyers to work collaboratively and share in digital workflows that benefit the entire supply chain.
“Materials suppliers rely on our solutions to control their plants, automate their quarries, manage their raw materials replenishment and mix designs, run their dispatch operations, optimize their fleets, and streamline their office operations,” explains Command Alkon’s Business Development Manager, Eric Heidman. “Trucking operations depend on our systems to track owned fleet assets, manage third-party haulers, improve driver performance, manage fuel and fleet maintenance costs, optimize trucking logistics, and streamline quoting and billing processes. Meanwhile, general contractors and project owners count on our solutions to automate manual processes, capture visibility into materials deliveries and hauling costs, and streamline communications with all of their vendors and for all of their heavy building materials.”
Command Alkon’s solutions go miles deep into the use cases required of its specific industry niche, rather than other companies who may go miles wide and only scratch the surface of the true needs of its customers. The company’s product portfolio is more comprehensive than any provider’s in its niche, and the integrations and data flow across Command Alkon and other third-party systems is unparalleled.
“Cloud-based, platform-enabled solutions from Command Alkon, like CONNEX Jobsite, digitize information from paper tickets so the entire supply chain can see ticket data in real time, throughout the ticket’s life cycles, from anywhere,” Eric details. “Businesses reduce waste and improve material yield, eliminate manual tasks and duplicate data entry, standardize processes, and track job costs daily. Our CONNEX Jobsite solution has been a great value add to the team at Grand Parkway Infrastructure, LLC. providing the streamlined workflow with ticketing, payments and materials tracking needed on such a large infrastructure project, a single source of info for multiple stakeholders, and keeping the entire team on the same page.”
Product Line Lead, Michael Bordelon continues: “Now with TicketPro, a feature of our CONNEX Jobsite product offering, back office personnel can capture every single ticket that hits a jobsite. It’s 2021, but 95 per cent of the tickets in the construction industry are still just pieces of paper that get passed through multiple touchpoints. TicketPro makes it possible to capture those tickets as early as possible, get them re-digitized, and then do some incredible things with the digital data, such as job cost reporting, accruals reporting, invoice reconciliation, quantities delivered for project managers, and deliver more insights that can help to run a more efficient job.
“The traditional idea of data in, data out isn’t enough for the industry right now. We knew we needed to augment these systems that are basically databases with user interfaces in front of them with more intelligence. This intelligence manifests itself in several ways. One way is smart robotics; bots that scour all of the data from an image of a paper ticket or invoice and dynamically read the data off and place it into discrete data formats. TicketPro’s industry-specific code content makes it possible for the system to augment that process of taking those paper formats and keying that data in manually.
“However, what we realize is that we can only get so far with that automation. The system also has an army of people around the globe that are working 24 hours a day to verify data entry. This makes TicketPro part of a new generation of technology where robots and humans have a symbiotic relationship and work collaboratively to create a new level of service that isn’t possible with traditional software systems.”
Although the past year has been filled with uncertainty, the construction industry expedited its initiative to adopt technologies that not only keep employees safer, but that drive new and improved levels of productivity, information accuracy, and digital collaboration. Command Alkon’s CONNEX Platform is contributing to this fast-track to digitization. “No other technology company has delivered a practical technology solution to the construction industry that will easily help it transition to digitization,” Michael states. “There’s 4000 contractors in the US alone, and almost all of them have completely manual and paper-based ticket and invoice reconciliation processes, which are extremely error-prone, slow, and laborious. TicketPro delivers a great opportunity to bring something extremely valuable and easy to adopt to those contractors.”
When considering its next steps for 2021, Command Alkon’s roadmap is centered around how it can best spread awareness of its product offering. Once this has been accomplished, its next goal is to get businesses completely implemented in single-digit hours and deliver a phenomenal support experience with the intention being that they not only fall in love with the product, but also with the company.
“Companies like ours are playing a leadership role in a generalized industry transformation, and this transition is going to be happening in regional pockets,” Michael points out. “As we start to tip through the critical mass that is emerging region by region, you start to see next-level optimization. We can start feeding more tickets out of CONNEX and have more suppliers and buyers onboard the platform. As these network effects build between multiple contractors and multiple vendors, that digital end-to-end journey from the moment an order is made all the way through completion of delivery is made possible. The TicketPro feature of CONNEX Jobsite is catalyzing the industry in that first step toward digitization that will then allow us to move to that final end-to-end digital journey.”
Michael goes on to conclude: “We’re seeing that digitizing the data from those tickets that are coming into the jobsite almost forces the guys in the field to work more collaboratively with the back office. Taking this a step further, the relationships between suppliers or haulers and contractors has been fairly contentious. Command Alkon’s products and services can act as a facilitator in improving and optimizing collaboration across the heavy building materials supply chain. Systems like CONNEX get everyone in the supply chain collaborating more, sharing the same data, and optimizing their business processes. That’s an important part of this industry transformation story; when we are all working together, we can make more money, be more efficient, get more done, and enjoy ourselves and what we do in the process.”
Services: Software and technology for heavy building materials