Builders like control and they like consistency. What builders seem to be afraid of is technology, since it’s a step into the unknown.
No segment of construction is more stuck in the ways of the past than the companies that make, deliver or work with concrete. But one company is starting to pull the industry into the future with a system that gives concrete contractors the control and consistency that they crave.
GCP Applied Technologies has seen dramatic growth in the usage of its VERIFI In-Transit Concrete Management System. The system uses a series of sensors and hardware installed on ready-mix trucks that are connected to the cloud. These sensors test the concrete mixture during transit, collect data and adjust the mixture by adding more admixture or water. VERIFI also measures temperature, drum speed and number of revolutions the drum makes. This ensures that the concrete mix is precisely what the buyer requested and is ready to be poured when the truck arrives.
“What we say VERIFI does is it monitors, measures and manages the concrete in transit,” said Ken Riley, Western Region manager for GCP Applied Technologies. “Big thing for the contractors is consistency on the job site. If concrete is showing up with a slump that is consistent, the whole process runs smoother. There are fewer issues with it and it’s just a big impact on the scheduling of the projects.”
The slump of the concrete is simply its thickness and how easily it pours and can be formed by the workers on the job site. For contractors, the VERIFI system saves a lot of time with each truck.
“If I know I’m getting the exact same product, truck, after truck, after truck, on the job site, my labor is going to be more efficient and consistent because I’m not stopping to add water,” said Derek Wright, president of Suntec, one of the largest concrete contractors in Arizona. “VERIFI is greatly improving the reliability and predictability of the ready-mix product that gets delivered on the job site.
“It is probably the most technologically innovative thing that we’ve actually seen implemented and making dramatic improvements in the market right now.”
VERIFI’s history goes back more than a decade, but it is just starting to see wide-spread implementation. It was developed by a private company whose research and development team explored ways to manage concrete deliveries. W.R. Grace and Company licensed the technology in the early 2000’s and in 2011 purchased all of the rights and patents for the VERIFI technology. In 2016, W.R. Grace and Company split into two independent companies, Grace and GCP Applied Technologies.
“For W.R. Grace and now GCP Applied Technologies, VERIFI was a real good fit because we make the chemicals that help the producer in the plant create a quality, high-performing mix,” said Matt Nazarenko, global marketing manager for GCP Applied Technologies. “Now we have the largest database of concrete properties in the world. We are a chemical company, we are not a technology company and that has started to shift a little bit. We are looking at different technology and how it applies.”
Riley said that there are two ready mix companies in Arizona that currently use the VERIFI system with more looking to come on board. Company-wide, Nazarenko said that GCP Applied Technologies had a 40 percent increase in the number of VERIFI installations in 2018 and 2019 is on track to surpass that growth percentage.
“We had our first international signing in Asia-Pacific in Singapore, we have an account that’s going to be starting in Australia and we had a customer put it on every truck they had in the United Kingdom,” Nazarenko said. “The interest is there, so we’re seeing some rapid expansion.”
Installation of the system is designed to not interfere with normal operations, as Riley said the installation teams can work when the trucks are parked for the night.