Transforming the Cement & Aggregate Industry with Computer Vision

Real-time monitoring & alerts can improve cycle times, customer satisfaction, & safety

Improved Cycle Times

Computer vision is a cost-effective way to replace human eyes and compliment GPS within yards, depots, and distribution centers to improve truck cycle times and reduce bottlenecks. Unlike simple security cameras that require humans to review hours’ worth of images, computer-based analytic systems use artificial intelligence to locate and track every vehicle entering the yard capturing its license plate number, cycle times, scale weights, and in some cases, contents. Along with continuous analytics, alerts can be configured warning of delays, bottlenecks, speeding, and safety violations.  Unlike GPS systems, computer vision watches every vehicle including third-party carriers, contractor and employee vehicles. It can also capture and analyze information with extremely high granularity compared to GPS – not to mention producing and irrefutable visual record of the activities.

Computer vision also overcomes the age-old Hawthorne effect in which people act differently when being watched and measured. Typically, operations improve while there is active monitoring by an industrial engineer or supervisor, but then reverts back to earlier, less productive levels after the monitoring ends. Computer vision analytics operate around the clock in all weather conditions. Classic analysis techniques using a clipboard and stopwatch are often infective and limited due to the need to do so through sampling.  When replaced by continuous analytics, there are no sample size issues as all the data can now be evaluated.

With computer vision’s continuous analytics and alerts, supervisors can manage plant and yard operations remotely from either a central command post or from their smart phone or tablet.  This is especially helpful for those with multiple site responsibilities or responsibility for managing very large integrated plant sites.

Improved Customer Satisfaction

The ability to show customers their specific turnaround cycle times trends over a day, week, or month will help them to better schedule their vehicles to avoid times of heavy traffic and to end the practice of blaming the facility for delays caused by their drivers. Valid customer cycle time data with visual records also creates an environment where all parties can “manage by fact”, helping to eliminate disputes between sales and operations such as the complaint that “I can’t sell more because of operational bottlenecks”.

Improved Safety

Computer vision has the unique ability to watch how people interact with the equipment they are operating and materials or products they are working on. There are dozens of solutions that read machine and vehicle data, but only with computer vision can you be assured safety regulations are being followed. Only with computer vision, it is possible to send an audit-proof alarm when:

  • A driver steps in an area that is deemed not safe
  • A person is standing behind a vehicle that is moving
  • A driver makes an illegal U-turn or is going the wrong way
  • A person is not wearing safety equipment- hardhat, safety glasses, etc.
  • A driver steps more than eight feet away from his vehicle

No technology is foolproof, but Atollogy’s computer vision has already proven its value in dozens of cement and aggregate plants. Improving cycle times, customer satisfaction, and safety are three mission-critical roles for A.I. based computer vision, but users will typically discover many others after they see the benefits of quickly and easily bringing the power of computer vision to their operations.

Author:

Anthony Tarantino, PhD

Adjunct Professor, Santa Clara University – Operations and Finance, Lean Six Sigma

Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Certified Scrum Master, CPIM (APICS), CPM (ISM)

Senior Advisor to Atollogy

Tony@atollogy.com