E & B Paving Leverages Software for Optimum Workload
E & B Paving, Anderson, Indiana, has over 1,000 employees working in more than 100 crews throughout the state of Indiana and northern Kentucky. The company has a team of 70 estimators/project managers, and over the past decade, that team has received a unifying platform to provide consistency across its bidding efforts and better access to job cost data.
In June 2012, E & B Paving purchased the HeavyBid estimating and bidding software from HCSS. Mark Jones, the construction technology manager at E & B Paving, said the company did some side-by-side testing of the HeavyBid software with their existing on-premises software that summer.
“In the early 2000s, we developed an in-house estimating program that was Excel-based, and it was better than pencil and paper, but it had a lot of issues,” Jones said. “And it seemed like every time Microsoft updated Excel, we would lose some functionality.”
He shared that the side-by-side estimates they performed let them look for differences and showed, “HeavyBid was more accurate than our Excel system. By Fall 2012, we brought in an HCSS trainer and went live with Heavy Bid on January 1, 2013.”
By July 2013, the team bid a $141 million project to turn an existing 5.4-mile section of a four-lane divided highway into an interstate. The U.S. 31 project required around 400,000 tons of asphalt, starting with temporary pavement work in the Fall of 2013.
“Due to the size of the job, we felt fortunate to have HeavyBid,” Jones said. “It was a 700 pay-item job, and that job would have just completely overwhelmed our old estimating system that we were using.”
By Spring 2014, the integration of HeavyBid with HCSS HeavyJob, which provides digital timecards, job costs and project management for heavy construction, helped estimators see how closely their bids matched actual costs across a spectrum of cost codes.
As just one aspect of the job, E & B Paving placed a 9.5-mm Category 4 mix on the road with blast furnace slag in the surface course. They used two plants—both Astecs—based in Hamilton County, making their haul distances about 8 miles and 12 miles to the paving sites.
“We subbed out a majority of our trucking on this project, which allowed us to meet our DBE requirement,” Jones said.
The end result is a smooth new interstate for Indiana’s taxpayers.
More recently, E & B Paving has incorporated additional HCSS products to streamline efficiency further. The Equipment 360 software helps E & B Paving manage maintenance and repair across its fleet of nearly 2,000 pieces of equipment.
“We have 43 road mechanics,” Jones said. “So being able to have a program where we can capture their time and have the ability to do work orders and have the foremen do inspections out in the field that will eventually develop into a work order, we see as a huge benefit for us in managing our fleet.”
The team also uses HCSS Telematics to keep track of about 346 pieces of equipment, preventing theft and offering foremen engine hour readouts for use with HeavyJob. Hour meter readings from telematics also transfer over to E360.
More recently, E & B Paving saw a large success story on SR37 in Monroe County, using HeavyBid to secure a three-year job placing 900,000 tons of asphalt. This project consisted of converting the existing four-lane SR37 from Bloomington to Martinsville, to interstate standards. A total of 21 miles of mainline interstate along with over 14 miles of access roads including roundabouts were constructed under this contract. A total of four new interchanges were built as well as several HMA multi-use paths. That project employed two plants—both Astecs—with one on each end of the project and 22 mix designs per plant.
The project presented many challenges. For example: Keeping traffic open in both directions during construction was a challenge due to tight lane restrictions due to the phasing plan. The existing roadway began failing with the increased volume of traffic, which presented challenges to repair.
Many of the areas on the project were paved at night to ensure both worker and public safety.
On average a total of five crews worked on this project daily including two asphalt crews, one prep crew, one miscellaneous concrete crew, and one concrete patching crew. There were several occasions where there were multiple asphalt paving crews working on the same day to meet scheduling demands.
Having the HCSS suite of products working for E & B Paving not only provides consistency across the company’s bidding operations, but also gives the team confidence in tracking the day-to-day. “We have over 650 active jobs right now in our HeavyJob system,” Jones said. That’s a workload E & B Paving is proud to take on.
Specific Workforce Development
Just as other companies in construction are doing, E & B Paving has sought an answer to the workforce shortage. The answer for growing estimators/project managers who understand the industry—and E & B Paving’s culture specifically—came about through partnership with local colleges.
“E&B Paving started an internship program with the colleges about seven years ago,” Mark Jones said. “During the first year, the intern is out in the field to give them an overall, rounded experience. When they come back the second year, we give them some time in the field, but they’re also in the office. We have them complete take-offs and spend time with our superintendents and crews. By the end of the third year, we might be able to offer an estimator/project manager job to the candidate.”
This lengthy process gives both E & B Paving and the interns time to figure out the best placement for the worker on his or her career track, but the internship program isn’t the only way to get in the door with the company.
“Even when we hire someone who hasn’t gone through our internship program, we have them in the field for six or eight weeks. We want to establish that relationship with our field employees. And everyone goes through the OSHA 30-hour course.”