Maintenance Products

Payload reporting system opens door to competitive advantage

“It’s not just about making that one machine more efficient or about avoiding errors,” said Johan Smet, the general manager of the quarry division for Trimble Loadrite. “That will always be there. Pretty much everybody does that. It’s about your next competitive advantage. Where are you going to get that? Well, you’re going to get that, we believe, from a better finetuning of your operations across the entire workflow.”

Trimble Loadrite specialises in providing on-board weighing systems and payload information solutions for both conveyors and earthmoving equipment around the world. The Australian quarrying industry is, of course, very familiar with the Loadrite brand which has been in the market for well over three decades and is distributed by eight distributors across the country.

However, what the industry won’t necessarily be familiar with is the alignment of reporting technologies that have occurred since June 2013 when Loadrite was acquired by Trimble, a multinational that is renowned for its wide range of positioning technologies and integrated solutions (eg GPS, laser, optical, wi-fi, etc). It is the consolidation of reporting capabilities into a new, single platform that Smet refers to when he discusses quarry operations looking for a competitive advantage and seeking continuous improvement in their operations.

Loadrite InsightHQ was first announced at the Trimble Dimensions international users conference in Las Vegas in November 2014 and then launched globally in December. It is a management portal designed with the quarrying and extractive industries in mind that provides near real time reports from loaders, excavators and conveyors, across a range of machine sizes, brands and models. Quarry operations can track tonnes per hour from mobile equipment, scrutinise inventory, identify bottlenecks, identify equipment with unused capacity, and follow load-out operations. InsightHQ is also compatible with all Loadrite products that have been installed in the last three years and Loadrite is offering its existing customers a 60-day free trial period with the software.


What makes InsightHQ different from other reporting and telematics programs, Smet said, is that it “is the first time in the Trimble Loadrite portfolio that we are bringing reporting from all the different systems together so you can see your excavator systems, your wheel loader systems and your belt scales all reporting into the same platform. Until recently we had different types of reporting for each one of those. Now you can literally see the entire material flow from the pit to the processing plant to load-out in one platform”.

As Smet added, InsightHQ provides “visibility” for quarry personnel – from senior or middle managers down to the pit operator – to respond to issues and optimise production and productivity in real time. “InsightHQ is designed to provide value to people at different levels in the organisation or with different functions within the organisation,” Smet explained. “They can get a lot of benefit out of what we call ‘snapshot’ functionality where people can see in real time how each piece of equipment is performing on their phone or a laptop or any mobile device, in fact anything with a web browser. It gives them visibility of what is going on so they can take immediate action if something doesn’t look like it is working properly.”

Further, he explained InsightHQ makes it possible for users to retrieve data without necessarily being in the pit and that it is particularly useful for quarry managers who may be responsible for multiple sites. “A manager or supervisor can look up information, look at what is going on, without making any calls or waiting for paperwork from others, they can see what they need to know when they want it,” Smet continued. “A number of quarry managers have to be responsible for the main site and some satellite sites, so it is very easy for them to see the data remotely and what is going on at other sites without having to drive out there. It saves a lot of travel time. For remote and regional people, in particular, they’re also going to be interested in a higher level of daily or weekly reports for performance against targets, metrics. They’re not going to want to see in near real time everything that is going on with every device.”


While the software is comprehensive and takes advantage of Trimble’s extensive experience in cloud platform technology, Smet emphasised that InsightHQ is not difficult to use and indeed has been designed so that “everybody who touches it gets some sort of value out of it”. He said that users do not need advanced IT qualifications to understand how to use InsightHQ and that as with everything that Loadrite brings to market, the company has distributors who are well versed in all of its products and can provide training to customers. “Of course, as we continue to develop functionalities, and as we roll out the features, we will of course make sure that our people are always capable of providing that training to the end users,”
Smet added.


“InsightHQ is fairly straightforward and easy to use,” Smet continued. “The interface is really designed to be user-friendly and intuitive, so you can find your way around. It doesn’t really take a massive investment and time to get up to speed with the system. Basic construction knowledge and a couple of hours of playing around with it will possibly be the way to get most of the value out of it.”

Smet elaborated that InsightHQ can be used by quarry operations to not only monitor payload data but for broader applications, including productivity, continuous improvement and benchmarking. “Some organisations have operations improvements specialty groups which like to look at data over time and run reports over longer time periods in order to look for outliers and apply LEAN analytics so they can use the system from that point of view,” he explained.

“It allows for a post-processing of operational information. With InsightHQ, you can dig out the data after the fact, compare one site to another site or compare one site over time or compare the performance when you’re processing one type of material against another type of material. You can look for outliers, patterns and opportunities to improve your operational productivity. You can look between sites, you can compare and change operators, you can compare shifts, you can compare the beginning of the week to the end of the week, generate whatever information you think might yield sources of value. You can look at the data and say, ‘OK, what is the best performing period? Who is the best performing team? Who is the best performing operator? And how do we get everybody else on the crew up to that same level? What can we learn from that guy that we can share with the other ones?’ So internal benchmarking is a very powerful tool that you can get out of a system like this.”



Smet stated that medium to smaller quarry businesses that are looking at using integrated platforms like InsightHQ for the first time should consider a holistic approach to how they view their operations.

“If you have Loadrite scales already,” Smet advised, “have a dialogue with your distributor and ask them: ‘How would I use this is in my quarry?’ The distributor is likely to ask: ‘Well, tell me about your quarry. What are your challenges? Where does it tend to go wrong, or where do you feel that you are not efficient? Or where do you see that you have bottlenecks or inventories building up or vehicles queuing, not flowing through?’ Ask where you would focus with this kind of system, start gathering data and see what’s really going on every day, all day. Try to find those spots where you can make improvements.

“If you don’t have any Loadrite scales on your site, then again it’s back to the process I described. Let’s talk about your quarry, let’s talk about where you think you have areas of inefficiency, and let’s focus on those.

“The great thing with InsightHQ is that its snapshot functionality allows you to generate very simple numbers on your screen or on your phone in a matter of seconds to report on each of these areas. What’s my tonnes per hour on every one of the belt scales? How many trucks have been loaded by each of my workers? How many tonnes per hour am I loading? These are very, very simple metrics, you don’t need to be a data analyst to get real value out of those figures. If you see those figures falling behind, you can take immediate action. You don’t need to be looking at lots of reports. You can get value straight away like that.”

At time of writing, InsightHQ was new to the international aggregates market so it is still too early for feedback from the industry. However, the product was met at Trimble Dimensions with an enthusiastic response from customers and distributors alike.


“The reception there was very, very positive,” Smet recalled. “A lot of people were saying, ‘Wow, that’s really good. That’s exactly what we’ve been waiting for. Where have you guys been all this time?’”

In an ideal world, Smet would like to see every quarry site across Australia and New Zealand use Loadrite scales and InsightHQ. “I think there are definitely opportunities in those markets for customers to get engaged on the next level and start thinking about these Loadrite solutions not just as a way to make that loader or that excavator more efficient but to think about how the information that is gathered by that device can be aggregated in a reporting system like InsightHQ. They should start thinking: ‘OK, how can I build up a database with information from my quarry, from my load-out sites, and start analysing that, and start mining that data for more information, so I can improve my processes over time?’

“Something like InsightHQ allows you to actually do that. I’d like to see that adopted in every quarry. The larger ones have continuous improvement teams that have a focus and the resources to actually go in-depth and analyse this kind of information. That can be very powerful, and that’s definitely an opportunity. But I would say even if you’re running one site or a smaller operation, just knowing what’s going on, keeping an eye out, or being able to address issues as soon as they pop up can save you a lot of money.” 


Construction company embraces payload reporting system

Seymour Whyte Constructions is a Queensland-based construction company that was founded in 1987 by civil engineers John Seymour and Garry Whyte. Since that time, the company has been involved in over $5 billion of complex infrastructure and building projects and as of January 2015 has a forward order book in excess of $450 million. Its current portfolio of projects include Queensland’s Warrego Highway Upgrade and Townsville Ring Road, New South Wales’ Maitland Railway Roundabout Upgrade and Great Western Highway improvements and the Northern Airport Precinct of Sydney Airport.

The company was represented at the Trimble Dimensions conference in Las Vegas in November 2014 by its surveying manager Tom Williams. He has been to similar events in the past on the company’s behalf and has always made it a goal of his to bring back information which can help advance Seymour Whyte. “This year, the highlight for me at Trimble Dimensions was Loadrite,” Williams said.


Seymour Whyte hasn’t used Loadrite products before but after Williams’ visit to Trimble Dimensions, the company is now seriously considering incorporating them into its plant and equipment. “We haven’t used Loadrite before but I did some research on it not long before the Dimensions conference, so I knew a bit about it already,” Williams explained. “Being a civil construction company that doesn’t own a lot of plant, loading systems have never really been of great significance to us, but a couple of the jobs we’re currently tendering for require us to monitor a fairly large quantity of imported fill and we’d be required to load and truck it ourselves, so we’re looking for a way of streamlining this operation.”

As a result of the need to do a lot of monitoring of fill removal and transport of material, Williams said he was impressed with the presentation about InsightHQ at the conference. “We’re familiar with using Trimble Vision Link for monitoring removal and placement of material with heavy machinery that already uses GPS but we also need to be able to record truck loading and truck movements. What Vision Link could give us covered some of the data collection but not all of it. After talking to the Loadrite team, I realised InsightHQ can cover the rest. We’ll fit the loaders with Loadrite and a modem, and the trucks with a GPS and a modem, and we will have all the data in a central location accessible on demand.”

Williams’ advice to quarry and construction operators that are looking at incorporating new technologies like payload reporting systems into their operations is not to wait. “If there’s something new on the market and you don’t get on board with it, you can be sure your opposition will, which will leave you behind. You then have to have ask yourself: ‘Can you afford to let that happen?’” 

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