Concrete Results | A Smart Concrete™ Case Study

A Leading Ready-Mix Producer Uses Smart Concrete™ to Drive Customer Value and New Revenues

Competing on Value and Customer Service

Founded in 1928 Stoneway is widely recognized as one of the most innovative concrete companies in the Seattle market. “We look for opportunities to separate ourselves from other companies through technology innovation, the quality of our product, and level of service we offer,” says Greg Mckinnon, Operations Manager.

Test cylinders being cured in laboratory

While this strategy has proven effective, it often makes Stoneway a price leader. “We’re far from the low-price producer in a very competitive market,” confirms McKinnon. Instead of competing on price, Stoneway constantly looks for new ways to add-value through technology options that also make it easier for contractors to do business with them he says.

A drive to maintain technology leadership while bringing new innovative products to customers quickly led Stoneway to Smart Concrete™ from Giatec. A value- added solution for ready-mix producers, Smart Concrete is sold to contractors who want to know the strength of poured concrete in real-time. Wireless sensors placed in the formwork relay temperature and strength results directly from the job site using a ready-mix producer’s app that’s supplied by Giatec. By leveraging wireless connectivity and mobile-based data collection, contractors get accurate, instantaneous information on concrete maturity. This enables contractors to make faster decisions, streamline their construction practices, complete projects faster, and often significantly reduce project costs.

A New Generation of Tech Smart Contractors

Construction worker installing Smart Concrete sensor on rebar

According to McKinnon, the Smart Concrete solution is particularly appealing to a younger generation of contractors who are already comfortable with apps.
“Increasingly, we recognized that we were selling to a new cohort of users who were not going to be happy with the old, traditional method of running wires, pushing buttons on a box, and computing the maturity index,” he says.
While Stoneway explored many different technology and innovation options, they quickly settled on Giatec. Smart Concrete was an ideal solution for this emerging app-savvy, technology enabled user group that expect faster results – in the palm of their hands. “Today, young engineers and their project managers want everything on their phone or iPad – not their desktop,” he says.

Today, young engineers and their project managers want everything on their phone or iPad – not their desktop.

Another reason Stoneway chose Giatec was customer service. “Everything about their business model appealed to us because it seemed to fit with our own philosophy,” says McKinnon. The two key things Stoneway looks for in a supplier is their level of customer service and quality of product. He says that to date, [Giatec] has done more than any of his other vendors. “My phone is on 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week. That’s how we operate our business. That’s exactly what we have found in Giatec – there’s always someone who is going to answer a phone or an email. And that level of customer service has tremendous value.”

In addition to responsive customer service, Giatec provides ready-to-use professional marketing and sales materials. “It makes it really simple to send an email to a customer or if we’re submitting a bid for a project, to include their marketing material to position this clearly from the first contact,” says McKinnon.

Showing Greater Value at Bid Opportunities

Above all, McKinnon says that “Smart Concrete gives Stoneway one more opportunity to distinguish ourselves from our competitors at bid time.” For McKinnon, the ability to fundamentally differentiate through technical innovation is one of the most important benefits. Smart Concrete helps him answer a client’s most challenging question: “What value do we bring to the table that nobody else can?”

Smart Concrete also enables ready-mix suppliers like Stoneway to deepen the relationship they have with clients. In effect, they become an information hub with all calibration information coming from the ready-mix producer. “ASTM has a method to determine your maturity curve,” confirms McKinnon. “We run mixes in our labs, break cylinders, record the time-temperature factor to plot a curve where you can estimate the concrete strength,” he adds. That calibration information is provided by the ready-mix producer to the contractor via the cloud using a mobile app that is supplied by Giatec. “Our clients learn how a mix performs which enables them to make better decisions more quickly,” says McKinnon.

Dramatic Example

To illustrate the value of Smart Concrete – and the relative ease of selling this to a knowledgeable contractor – McKinnon describes the recent experience of a major high-rise building developer. The initial job schedule called for post tensioning every three days – where a deck is poured and sits for two- days before tensioning. After their first pour, and using Smart Concrete – with sensors providing real-time information – the developer found that the mix they were planning to use made strength after one day. “So instead of tensioning at three days, they adjusted their schedule to a two-day pour schedule,” confirms McKinnon. “Effectively, the developer took a day-off every floor they were going to pour,” he adds.

There’s always someone [at Giatec] who is going to answer a phone or an email. And that level of customer service has tre- mendous value.

Shaving a day-off every floor results in huge savings for the contractor. In addition to accelerating their schedule, they enable the building owner to have occupancy much sooner. If the project is a hotel building, that’s “tremendously important,” says McKinnon.

While McKinnon has many of these types of success stories to prove the ROI and “sell ability” of Smart Concrete he cautions: “some people still struggle” with the idea that they don’t have to break cylinders to test compressive strength of concrete. Again, part of it appears to be a generational mindset – because that’s been the established industry practice.

Obtain and share tempearture and strength results in real-time with the Smart Concrete™ mobile app.

“A Gamechanger”

However, McKinnon believes that a major generational shift is underway – and while traditional habits and methods of working ‘die hard’, Smart Concrete is a gamechanger for those contractors who adopt it.

Wrapping up, McKinnon says that with Giatec’s Smart Concrete solution, ready-mix suppliers have an innovative way of differentiating themselves in a competitive market while generating important new, high-margin revenue AND creating breakthrough value for contractors. “It’s a win-win situation,” concludes McKinnon.

Effectively, the developer took a day-off every floor they were going to pour.

Challenge

  • Need to differentiate low-price bidders in a competitive market
  • New and younger generation of contractors looking for technology-enabled methods

Solution

  • Smart Concrete, with real-time concrete strength monitoring
  • Wireless connectivity providing mix calibration data from job site
  • Responsive customer support and professional sales materials from Giatec

Results

  • Competitive differentiator based on technology leadership and innovation
  • Ability to deepen relationships with contractors
  • Attractive new high margin revenues with upselling opportunities

About Stoneway Concrete

Based out of Seattle, Washington USA, Stoneway Concrete is one of the state’s largest privately held ready-mix producers primarily serving contractors in King County.

About Giatec

Giatec Scientific Inc. is a leading provider of advanced concrete testing solutions to the global construction industry. By combining wireless concrete sensors and mobile apps, Giatec’s unique smart monitoring solutions provide invaluable real- time information on concrete properties.

Our knowledge-based solutions include laboratory devices, Non-Destructive Testing equipment, and wireless sensors for the accurate assessment of various parameters including concrete electrical resistivity, permeability, rebar corrosion potential and corrosion rate, as well as wireless monitoring of concrete temperature, maturity and humidity.

Contractors, builders, and ready-mix providers in over 70 countries use Giatec’s smart monitoring solutions to save time, reduce their labour investment, energy and material costs while measurably increasing the profitability of their building projects.