Benevento Enhances Asphalt Operations with HaulHub, CONNEX
When Michael Benevento founded Benevento Companies, Wilmington, Massachusetts, in 1934, customer service was the foundation upon which he built the company. While the company has kept that commitment for more than 85 years, the technology Benevento uses to meet its customer service goals has changed. In fact, technology has enabled the company to improve its customer-oriented approach.
Upgrade Asphalt Ops with HaulHub
Benevento Companies is a material supply company serving the aggregate, asphalt and ready mix concrete industries.
Three years ago, the company invested in a new 400-ton-per-hour Gencor converter drum plant at its Wilmington facility. As a result, the asphalt portion of the business has grown substantially.
“Asphalt is now the largest segment of our business,” Vice President Mark Peach said. However, the technology behind the asphalt portion of its business lagged behind its growth.
Four years ago, Benevento began using Integra and TrackIt—products of software company Command Alkon, globally headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama—in its concrete operations. The solutions enabled Benevento to track and integrate information, including features to manage driver time, communicate with drivers throughout the day via tablet, and track their activities and deliveries, as well as integrate with its ticketing and reporting.
“We’ve been very happy with that process and our relationship with Command Alkon,” Peach said. “They’re always very helpful, and the product has been very good for managing the concrete side of our business.”
The company began looking for technology solutions to replicate those results for its asphalt and aggregate operations. It had already been using Apex, also from Command Alkon, for its asphalt ticketing for 20 years. Then, at the start of the 2019 season, Benevento began using the full suite of HaulHub Technologies solutions.
HaulHub Technologies, Boston, Massachusetts, provides a suite of mobile and desktop applications that enables producers and contractors to manage their heavy construction operations, from transportation to material ordering to customer management. Through the applications, contractors and producers can schedule, view and manage trucking operations, while also managing material ordering and sales tracking digitally.
Benevento’s goal was two-fold. They wanted a solution to streamline ordering, ticketing, and communication with customers, as well as glean insights into their operations to maximize efficiency for their asphalt operations as they had done for the other side of the business.
“This is a very expensive business with costly materials and costly trucking,” Peach said. “If you can be more productive and save money on transportation, there are real dollars at stake in identifying these inefficiencies.”
Command Alkon’s CONNEX Streamlines the Supply Chain
After it began using HaulHub’s tools, Benevento approached its 10 largest asphalt customers to ask if they would be interested in placing orders electronically. More than half of the customers began using the HaulHub FOB Materials app to place orders.
“Our industry has been working 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. shifts and we haven’t had the ability for after-hour and weekend orders, but we’re so used to that as consumers,” said HaulHub Technologies CEO Joe Spinelli. HaulHub users can order mix anywhere, anytime, just like making an order on Amazon. “It’s something we take for granted in any other vertical, but it took a while to come to our industry.”
Customers can also use the HaulHub Field app to follow their deliveries all the way until they are delivered to the paver.
Recently, Peach was out on the golf course with a customer when he pulled up the FOB Materials app to show the customer how much material the plants sent out for the day and the attached ticket information for each job.
“He was blown away,” Peach said. “I’d bet a paycheck that most companies are doing it the old-fashioned way, with phone calls, Excel spreadsheets, etc.”
“Customers used to be calling our salespeople constantly to see how many loads they’d received so far that day,” Peach said. “Every day quickly became a jigsaw puzzle of phone calls and information.” With HaulHub, that information is always available.
However, one piece of the puzzle was missing: communication between HaulHub and Command Alkon’s systems. Lack of integration between software solutions is an ever-increasing challenge as these tools become more ubiquitous throughout the industry.
That’s why Command Alkon developed CONNEX, an industry-wide supplier collaboration platform, with HaulHub Technologies as its first third-party partner. As both a Command Alkon and HaulHub customer, Benevento became the first to pilot CONNEX.
CONNEX and HaulHub Integrate, for Customers’ Sake
CONNEX aims to connect contractors, project owners, and jobsite inspectors with their heavy building material suppliers and haulers to improve communication and collaboration, and ensure all stakeholders are working with the same information, whether with Command Alkon solutions or otherwise.
For HaulHub, the integration with Command Alkon through CONNEX gave its tools access to exact tonnages and load times for each truck where they would have previously had to make estimates. “We can offer more specific information than we could before,” Spinelli said. “That’s the piece we were missing that lives inside CONNEX, inside the actual, real-time ticket data.”
Simply put, CONNEX is “one place users can go to synthesize data from all types of solutions into the information needed to do their heavy work,” said Chris Strickland, Command Alkon’s vice president of product management.
CONNEX enables communication between the producer using Command Alkon’s suite of solutions and the haulers and contractors using HaulHub’s tools. “CONNEX provides bi-directional integration via a many-to-many relationship platform,” Strickland said. Meaning, HaulHub both provides information to CONNEX and pulls information from the platform, and vice versa, among common trading partners.
According to Spinelli, many of HaulHub’s customers were relying on Command Alkon solutions for ticketing, scale and point of sale. “It just made sense to collaborate and share this data to complete the puzzle on the backend,” he added.
“[Command Alkon is] very mature in several areas, particularly the ready-mix concrete and raw material production side of the industry,” Strickland said. “What we like about HaulHub is they know their market well and are relentlessly focused on serving the heavy material trucking market. With this partnership, we’re realizing we can really solve a lot of problems for our customers in the asphalt industry.”
For Benevento, the integration means Peach has highly accurate information to share, whether on the golf course or with customers on the job.
As a neutral, open industry collaboration tool, the CONNEX platform plans to integrate with a variety of third-party solutions.
“A collective desire from our customers to ‘help me work more efficiently with my external partners’ has been made clear from across the industry,” Strickland said. “We know we won’t be building every solution for the entire construction industry. We all have to work together to provide customers the digital experience they’re clamoring for.”
Benevento Relies on Current Tech for Future Goals
In addition to simplifying operations, HaulHub Technologies has also enabled Benevento to save its customers money. For example, Benevento manages trucking for a local milling contractor. During the first job of the 2019 season, they assigned eight trucks to the job. The following day, Peach hopped onto the HaulHub app to watch a replay of the trucks.
“Eight trucks seemed like a lot since the job was very close and there wasn’t much traffic at night,” Peach said. His hunch was correct. When he watched the replay in the HaulHub Field app, he noticed there were three trucks sitting on the job all night long. “Within 10 seconds on the app, I could tell we had two trucks too many. I called the customer and suggested we take a couple off the job, he agreed, and we were able to save the customer $2,000.”
In the past, Peach continued, the customer would have continued to overtruck the job if no one had noticed the trucks sitting there. “That type of information doesn’t jump out to you on logs that easily,” Peach said. “With the app, it’s easy to check in on past jobs and make adjustments as needed. That was an eye-opening moment.”
In the future, Peach hopes all of its customers will make orders and follow deliveries through the HaulHub platform.
“We started with our top 10 customers because those companies bring in our largest orders, and that’s where we really needed better visibility,” Peach said. “It’s easier to fill a couple extra small orders on short notice than these bigger orders. Once we get that level of visibility on all orders, it’ll be possible to put some of those orders in our ten 200-ton silos, which opens up more capacity for our business. I can produce more mix with confidence because those orders are confirmed. That’s where we’ll be someday.”
It will also enable Benevento to have a clear picture of what’s happening out in the field to make better decisions at the plant, Peach said, like knowing when to make a mix change to save customers time waiting in the yard.
Benevento also plans to use the HaulHub platform, with its integrated ticketing data from CONNEX, as a customer relationship management tool.
For example, if Benevento hopes to sell a particular customer 40,000 tons throughout the year, the salesperson will know they need to sell 1,000 tons per week for each of the 40 weeks of production. If a salesperson isn’t meeting those goals, they can check in with the customer. If a customer makes a big order, the salesperson can call to thank them.
The integration with HaulHub Technologies is just one example of how Command Alkon hopes CONNEX improves operations.
“As customers ask for different integration use cases with other solutions, we’ll entertain those through our open CONNEX platform in order to serve our customers and enable easy digital exchange with their trading partners,” Strickland said. “You will see a variety of partnerships like this coming from Command Alkon in the future.”
Peach is certainly in favor: “CONNEX has streamlined a lot of processes and communication internally and externally. With CONNEX, we have one system for everyone to see.”
CONNEX was officially launched in September 2019. For more information, visit here.