One Cemen Tech Mixer, Two Cement Silos, And Two Boom Pumps Equals A 1,000-Yard Continuous Pour
How did you get started with Alpha Omega Concrete Solutions?
My partner Joe Powers had a construction company that he’s had for about 15 years. He’d received an email from Cemen Tech regarding the trucks and it kind of got his wheels spinning. I’d been in technology working for telecom companies for about 20 years. Joe asked me about it, what I thought as far as the technology that Cemen Tech has on board the trucks and how the volumetric mixers work differently than the barrel trucks. It piqued my interest and the rest is kind of history. Joe and I pretty much decided to move forward that day and reached out to Zach Deason and bought two trucks.
What is your service area?
It’s metro Denver primarily. We will go north a little bit. We have a buddy of ours, Dustin Dienes with Concrete Mobile Mix in Greeley. Dustin will occasionally call us to come help him out there.
Talk about the type of work Alpha Omega handles — is it residential and/or commercial?
It’s a mix of both. We’ve done Google AdWords and with the Google AdWords advertising, we’ve seen a lot of kind of a smaller residential type jobs. But, as far as getting going, that was a great way for us to kind of cut our teeth and figure out really how to make good concrete. But we definitely do [handle] commercial as well. We do a lot of work for Powers Construction so that’s a lot of our commercial work. Then we have a number of commercial customers getting anything from flow fill to 4,500 PSI concrete. It’s kind of all over the board.
How does the Denver weather, especially this time of year, affect everything?
So, Denver, the chamber of commerce did a good job saying it’s sunshine 300 days out of the year here. But we definitely do have cold snaps in the Front Range here. It really kind of grinds us to a halt. When it’s below 35 degrees, we typically won’t pour. We will do some flow fill on those colder days but still it’s a challenge when winter comes to Colorado.
The Denver area has witnessed massive growth in recent, with an estimated 388,000 people moving into the metro area in less than a decade. As more businesses and people relocate to the area, companies in the construction industry have tried to keep pace with the demand for homes and office buildings.
Is Denver going to keep growing?
Yes. Everyone we talk to, whether it be logistics companies, construction companies, everybody we talk to – [says] there will be an end to it, but nobody’s got that sense of the end coming soon.
The growth hasn’t been limited to homes and office buildings, but also the hospitality industry. In November 2019, Alpha Omega Concrete Solutions embarked on a 1,000-yard continuous pour for a new hotel in Littleton, Colorado over a three-day period.
We borrowed a mobile silo from them [Concrete Mobile Mix in Greeley, Colorado.] We are going to do this continuous pour with, ideally with just one of our trucks. This will be the third continuous pour on this job site that we’ve done. This is certainly the largest we’ll be doing for parking lots.
Talk about what kind of planning and timeframe does it take to pull something like this off.
You guys know better than anybody the best laid plans of mice and men don’t always work out, right? The weather is the only X factor for us in planning something like this. We got 900 tons of stone brought in over a day and a half. Our stone supplier did a great job with that. We’re trucking in about 700 tons of sand and then our cement will come in different deliveries. We’ll have those, our two silos that we’re going to be using, those will be filled today. [How many tons of cement?] 25 tons per so we’ll have 50 tons of cement starting out in the morning and then we’ll get another load delivered around 9:30, 10 o’clock tomorrow. And then we’ll have an end-of-day set of loads come in as well.
That logistics, that’s probably the most difficult of all the logistics is just getting that cement powder figured out and delivered.
Talk about the coordination it takes for this size of a project.
It’s an effort between both the contractor – in this case it’s fortunate that it’s my partner – so it’s the coordination between the contractor to get the silo set and to get everything, get the site ready. And that’s probably the biggest challenge, especially with the weather. But beyond that, it’s just setting up just like our normal deliveries at the yard, just more of them and a higher frequency over a shorter period of time.
Is it harder or easier to work with your partner on projects like these, because you also have account for their schedule?
I think it’s easier because we do, obviously we have the open lines of communication. A lot of times when it’s a true client, we might not have that direct communication. Doing a continuous pour like this with my partner Joe is probably the best way to go about, again, cutting our teeth on something unique. Nobody in the market has really seen the continuous pours happen. There are very few volumetric trucks in the city of Denver and those that are here aren’t trying to do innovative things like this continuous pour.
Do you have to bring on extra crew for this project?
No, we’ll do this with one truck. Our job is essentially just to run the truck and produce the concrete. We’re going from a line pump into a boom pump. Because the area that we’re covering is so big, we want to be sure that the boom truck can move around, as opposed to getting a 63-meter. So, we did a 27-meter boom truck and then a line pump that’s pumping into that.
Alpha Omega Concrete Solutions uses ACCU-POUR™ and you came from a tech background. How does ACCU-POUR™ help with such large-scale projects like this pour?
Well, I would say ACCU-POUR™ helps not just on the large-scale projects, but it really helps keep everything organized and [an] audit trail for us of every pour that we’ve done. We don’t do a pour without entering it into ACCU-POUR™. One of the really nice things about ACCU-POUR™ is the ability to see how much material, remotely, we have used on a single pour. So, having that remote access to see what the truck has done on a particular day is fantastic. Then we have that historical on your servers for as long as we need it.
What’s the best feature of ACCU-POUR™?
I think the best feature of ACCU-POUR™ is yet to come. I think the integration of everything that ACCU-POUR™ is, with the materials, with visibility to trucks, the telemetrics that are in there, I think that’s all great but once we can tie that into our billing, and all of that is seamlessly integrated together with billing, that is going to be the coolest part about ACCU-POUR™.
If someone was on the fence about ACCU-POUR™, what would you tell them?
ACCU-POUR™ – we were original beta customers for ACCU-POUR™, so we went through a lot of growing pains with it. I think the majority of those have been worked out and I think the feature set expansion that’s coming is just going to make it that much better. But if I’m a new customer looking at a third-party solution, I would definitely think hard about it. Because having a fully integrated solution, with billing, reporting, historical data that you guys manage – it’s not a per ticket cost, it’s a one-time pretty much nominal fee at the beginning of the year. The integration of it is the thing that if anybody new is starting out is looking at it, they’d better think hard about having disparate systems all trying to talk to each other and really focus on getting something that’s integrated, that will literally track all of their materials that are used on every job that they ever pour.
Talk about your experience using Cemen Tech CONNECT.
CONNECT is, if I had to say 1-A and 1-B, I’d have to say 1-A is CONNECT and 1-B is ACCU-POUR™ for what you guys have done with that. We love ACCU-POUR™ but CONNECT for us, being a guy who’s coming from the telecom industry, CONNECT is, I can’t put a price on it. It’s invaluable to us. We had an accident with a mixer, and we had to replace a mixer and go through installing that ourselves having never done it before, it was really a breeze because we just dialed it up. We got Kevin in the office back in Iowa. Literally held the camera, he circled things, we got everything hooked up and got that mixer working in relatively short order.
If someone was on the fence about using CONNECT, how would you persuade them to use the application?
I would say ‘save yourself all the headache and the heartache of trying to figure it out yourself’ and just get on the phone, point the camera, and have Cemen Tech show you exactly where things need to go. It saves an immense amount of time and really, headache.
What would you say is the best feature of CONNECT?
I think the best feature of it is just that we’ve gotten into a world where – Steve Jobs vision, the art of possible and Apple – everybody’s so used to FaceTiming now. So, I think it’s getting that live person on the phone and being able to walk through where you can point the phone at a particular part. And the idea that the person in Iowa can freeze frame, can stop it right wherever they want it, right after directing you to maneuver the phone a little bit – where he can freeze that frame, circle, make a note, talk through with you whatever it is. It’s that visual aspect of it that really sets it apart. Because you can talk to somebody over the phone and you’re looking at do-hickeys and thing-a-ma-jigs, right, [and you might call it one thing and they call it another.]
Having that ability with the visual, live, instant feedback from that visual it’s – again, I can’t put a price on it. Especially for us who are not, there’s nobody that’s certified diesel or hydraulic mechanic. The big things you’re still going to have to take it to a diesel shop, you’re still going to have to take it to a hydro shop, but 9 out of 10, 8.5 out of 10 of the problems that we face on a daily basis – well, 9.9 on a daily basis – are certainly the little things that something like CONNECT if we have that question or concern and we can’t figure it out, I mean it solves it right there. It’s great.
Talk about using the C60s – what do you like, what would be one of your selling points to a new customer, whether they’re currently with the M Series or they’re brand new to volumetrics.
I think if somebody’s using an M Series and they’re used to it and they like it and they know how it works, stick with it. If they’re looking to have some increased technology, some of the remote monitoring capability – but for us, not having to touch a gate is a good thing. Programming everything at the back of the truck, it’s easy. It takes any of the guess work out.
I think if people have a large fleet of M Series trucks and they have driver attrition and there’s a reason to start understanding if some of that driver attrition is because of the extra effort and the extra knowledge that has to come along with running an M Series truck, I think some of that can be removed by going to a C Series where it’s a pre-programmed, fully automated solution. So, if somebody’s looking for that, it’s the way to go.
Does that help you with hiring drivers?
Yeah, I think it’s helped us from getting started. There’s so much for us not coming from the concrete world that we’ve had to learn, and it’s slowed a lot of progress, I would say, on our part. But I think having the C Series volumetric mixers, where everything is automated and working with the folks at Cemen Tech to get everything calibrated and dialed in, perfect. Once it’s calibrated and dialed in, it is easy sailing from there. I would say having the C Series has helped us versus if we’d tried to start with an M Series for sure.