Punching Their Ticket

Pan Pacific Cement Expedites The Ticketing Process For A High Volume Of Truck Traffic At A Facility With An Estimated Capacity Of 1.2 Million Tpy.

Edited by Mark S. Kuhar

Pan Pacific Cement is a leading cement distributor in California. The company was founded in 2007 and distributes cement throughout California and Nevada. 

Its state-of-the-art cement terminal is in Sacramento, Calif., and has a capacity of 80,000 tons with three loadout bays. The company imports cement from around the world to meet the challenging needs of its customers.

The Challenge
Pan Pacific Cement, a subsidiary of the Caillier Investment Group, was looking for a system that could:

  • Expedite the ticketing process for a high volume of truck traffic at a facility with an estimated capacity of 1.2 million tpy.
  • Interface to a third-party PLC loadout system.
  • Interface to an existing COMMANDseries system for Billing and Enterprise Content Management.
  • Deliver and implement on time. 

The system had to be ready to go when the first ship arrived.

The Solution
It became obvious that the Apex system from Command Alkon was an ideal fit. As a leading supplier of ticketing and automation solutions for the bulk materials industry, Command Alkon could leverage their experience with the largest cement suppliers in North America to help design a solution that would meet all of the requirements for Pan Pacific Cement. 

The final result would be a cement loadout facility with a typical load time of only three minutes, far exceeding the industry average.

The Result
The first step was a site survey while the terminal was still under construction to understand the physical layout and to clarify the specific technical requirements. 

The terminal would have three loadout lanes, each with a two-section truck scale and two surge hoppers overhead to allow for simultaneous loading of front and back trailers. They wanted to be able to operate all three lanes efficiently with a single loadout operator.

After reviewing the site, Command Alkon recommended the use of RFID readers for quick identification of trucks when they arrive and outdoor printers mounted at cab height, eliminating any need for drivers to get out of their vehicles – ensuring both efficiency and safety for the drivers.

The implementation for the Pan Pacific Cement terminal employed the following software and hardware solutions from Command Alkon:

  • Apex Ticketing – provides an intuitive Windows user interface for data management and ticket printing at the site.
  • Auto ID – interfaces with the core ticketing application to allow the use of RFID readers and remote user input devices to automate the ticketing process.
  • Third-Party Controls Interface – allows the Apex application to provide information such as Target Weights, Bin ID, etc. to the loadout control system and to monitor status conditions.
  • Remote Ticket Printing – designed specifically for outdoor printing in conditions found in the bulk materials industry, houses an industrial printer for rapid delivery of tickets to the driver.
  • Scale Watcher – Integrated video capture provides a still image of truck license and side door view for every ticket generated. These images are stored with the ticket, eliminating the need for driver signatures.

The Apex system stores all of the information required to load each vehicle, including configuration (single or double trailer), target weights for each trailer, maximum GVW, billing information, etc. When a truck pulls into a loadout lane, the driver presents the badge to the RFID terminal mounted at cab height.

The driver confirms his assignment on the terminal or contact the loadout operator if his assignment information needs to change. Once confirmed, Apex captures the tare weight and communicates the lane ID and target weights for the vehicle to the loadout PLC.

The operator lowers the spouts and initiates the loading. The scale configuration allows the PLC to load a front and back trailer simultaneously with independent target weights.

Once the loading is complete and the spouts have been raised, the PLC sets the appropriate status and the Apex application captures the final gross weight and prints a delivery ticket at the appropriate remote printer.

At the time the ticket is printed, the Scale Watcher module stores the video capture from two cameras, with an overlay of key ticket data values, as a pdf image that is indexed by ticket number for easy retrieval in the Apex application. An additional image of the printed ticket is stored in the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system. 

From beginning to end, including the cement loading time, the entire process is completed in as little as three minutes.

The Pan Pacific Cement terminal is an excellent example of how the combined technology and industry experience of Command Alkon can be counted on to provide a perfect solution for the construction-materials industry. 

The customer was able to implement a state-of-the-art Apex bulk material ticketing application, including RFID and video capture integration, while continuing to utilize the Command Alkon Billing and ECM systems already in use within their sister companies.

Information for this article courtesy of Command Alkon.

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