Braen Stone Leverages Libra Systems Integrated GPS and Plant Management Tech
BY Sandy Lender
It began when Patriarch Samuel Braen received property in lieu of monies owed him in the 1890s. He accepted a stretch of land along New Jersey’s northern border known as “The Valley of the Rocks,” which would keep his family in business for five generations to come. He founded Samuel Braen Inc. in 1904 to provide construction materials where factories and infrastructure grew. In the 1920s, members of the family joined the business for a name change to Samuel Braen’s Sons, and they proudly provided materials for the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System in the years following.
Fast forward to 2020 and Braen Stone owns and operates four quarries in northern New Jersey along with a Gencor drum plant and a 60-year-old batch plant at its Haledon site. They pride themselves on supplying quality construction materials in the Tri-State area of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, and have a strong presence in multiple organizations to help the communities where they work and serve.
When a company can boast five locations, two asphalt plants, and 200 employees, it needs high level management of everything from weighing to ticketing to tracking to safety and beyond. Ray Scott, the director of IT for Stone Industries Inc., gave some insight into that high level management.
“All of our locations have more than one Libra Gen3 PC and several scales,” Scott said. “This allows us to maximize efficiency by running multiple outbound scales when busy as each PC can grab and ticket on any scale. Because we are high-volume, it’s a never-ending process.”
To organize and track all that, Braen implemented the Generation3 aggregate scale/plant loadout computer system from Libra Systems Corporation, Harleysville, Pennsylvania. The Generation3 system incorporates a number of elements throughout the Braen sites, and feeds data from those elements to the Libra Enterprise Information Server (EIS), which Scott described as the “central management server that keeps all of our Libra Generation3 computers updated with the latest job information. EIS sends all customer, job, order, product, and truck information to each Generation3 computer. It also retrieves and stores all tickets from each plant to simplify back office reporting.”
Recently, Braen added the Libra Sentinel GPS asset management solution to the mix. Scott described it as “cloud-based software we use to track deliveries and time between plants and jobsites to better utilize our delivery trucks.” This system works with plug-in, hardwired devices, or use of a mobile phone app to track trucks and deliveries.
“We are a high-volume aggregate and asphalt producer,” he continued. “And needed a way to maximize and track our delivery trucks, which in our case are all third-party haulers, so we can meet the needs of our customers.”
Ron Callahan is the transportation manager at Braen Stone and explained how they use EIS Live Dispatch with the Sentinel GPS.
“As we all know, even though you have planned your day the night before, there’s constant change from start to finish. If you’re going to play chess, you need to see the board. When our dispatchers are getting real-time information, they make decisions that are efficient, productive and cost-saving in all aspects of our business. With our multiple facilities, our dispatchers are constantly monitoring vehicle status, job sites and plants in real time.”
Any company selling mix to outside customers will recognize the added stress of independent haulers lining up alongside your own trucks to start their projects each morning. Let’s say you have trucks receiving stone as well. The logistics can be managed from one dispatch location, as Braen has set up with Central Dispatch at the Haledon facility.
“During a peak time, you could have 50 trucks waiting to scale out,” Scott said. He described the Libra aggregate scale ticketing system as “pretty quick” for each truck. “About 30 seconds. Mornings are tough since all trucks are loaded and ready to go as the gates open. Other than that, it’s a steady flow. You get the gross weight and print. As a truck drives onto our scale, we’re scanning the plate using an LPR camera that retrieves the truck and adds it to the Libra queue, the weighmaster picks it from the queue, and all the job information is populated. We also utilize the Libra self-service kiosks at all of our locations to allow authorized drivers to weigh themselves and print their own tickets. The kiosks also handle 100 percent of our after-hours ticketing.”
Scott looks at the EIS server as “the source of truth that communicates with multiple scales in multiple locations. The ticket data at each facility continuously flows from each Generation3 back to EIS. Simultaneously, EIS keeps each Generation3 in sync with new orders, truck assignments and other database updates.”
One of the Libra systems Braen has recently installed is the Sentinel GPS mentioned above. With the two working in concert, it “helps us to reduce our operating costs on all fronts and not just trucking,” Callahan explained. “When you’re able to determine the fastest, shortest route for our hired vehicles, this helps all aspects of our business in regard to reducing time. We can pinpoint traffic issues and avoid them. This also benefits our haulers in lower fuel consumption and can decrease overtime costs. When the trucks are efficient, so is the entire operation.”
Callahan listed the following points as some of the additional benefits the Braen Stone team has achieved by using EIS and Sentinel together:
- By monitoring truck location, Central Dispatch can route trucks to the closest quarry or plant location for efficiency. This increases truck loads per day. More loads equals more profit.
- This allows Central Dispatch to keep customers informed. We are able to advise customers of the location of the delivery truck and we can accurately estimate time of arrival on job sites. The customer can be prepared to offload as soon as the truck arrives.
- Haulers may be able to reduce your insurance costs. Insurance companies encourage GPS systems and provide discounts to GPS-equipped trucks.
- The system automatically tracks and stores information that can be pulled up at a later date. On-the-job wait times can be monitored and verified at any time.
Another point all the software assists the Braen team with is safety. Scott explained that site-specific training is required of any vendor or hauler who comes to one of the quarries.
“Just to be on our grounds, everybody who comes on site has to watch the safety video and take the quiz at the end.”
The safety video gives visitors the ground rules for staying safe at a Braen site, as well as basic safety rules to adhere to at active quarries. The safety video is to keep workers compliant with Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) regulations and to ensure everyone knows how to behave for best safety practices. If a person receives less than 80 percent on the quiz at the end of the video, the person will have to re-try, paying closer attention to safety items such as what channel to set the radio to when entering the site, which way traffic flows at the site, what speed limits are for the sites, what horns signal a blast is imminent, and so on. This is to keep you MSHA-compliant. “The test score goes to an internal database and we give them a sticker for their hardhat to be worn on site,” Scott said.
It makes sense that Braen would install additional safety mechanisms for asphalt loadout. They use the Libra Silo Safety System, which is designed to prevent inadvertently opening the wrong silo.
“We added the Silo Safety System several years ago. The system graphically depicts the truck’s position, as well as the silos that are ‘hot’ or locked out. The system kinda works on its own; the driver doesn’t have to know it’s there. The beam has to be broken or the silo gate won’t open. We couple that with cameras as well that look down into the beds.”
Customers call into the Haledon Central Dispatch location for scheduling, no matter where they’ll load out. From there, Braen can offer detailed tracking now with Sentinel GPS integrated with EIS. Scott said: “The biggest part we like is it’s all Libra. It integrates fully with EIS. You put GPS devices in the trucks and it helps us manage the trucks more efficiently.”
The inaugural Libra Systems User Conference takes place in Orlando Jan. 22-24, 2020. Visit LibraSystems.com for details.