Dan Barry is the General Manager of SmartTech Australia, the largest Trimble LOADRITE distributor for
on-board weighing technology globally. SmartTech offers software, wireless and hardware solutions for a range of applications in the extractive industries. Dan discusses the value added solutions Trimble and SmartTech are developing – and how it can benefit quarries.
How have SmartTech Australia and Trimble performed during the global pandemic?
The past 20 months have been challenging logistically but it’s still been a great period for SmartTech. We’re lucky to be in an industry that is quite insulated from the pressures of the pandemic and our national footprint has allowed us to adapt organically to help our customers operate with greater profit and certainty during this time of uncertainty.
Trimble and other tech manufacturers have endured different challenges due to the shortage in micro-chips and micro-processors worldwide. Fortunately most of the manufacture of the LOADRITE product in Auckland has not been significantly impacted.
Has the pandemic changed the way you do business with the quarrying industry?
We’ve had challenges in regional areas, with limited or restricted access to customers. Fortunately we’re spread far and wide across the country, with 14 branches, 60-plus staff, 14 service trucks, and surplus components.
Customers are interested in how other people are operating, where innovations are being deployed, and examining solutions to impacted production margins. Metro-based quarries, for example, are questioning the costs and real estate of a weighbridge. They want to know if there’s billing alternatives, how they dispense with weighbridges and switch to on-board weighing solutions that measure the loading of different material types and invoice directly from the loader.
What are some of Trimble’s most popular measurement and mapping solutions?
Trimble Insight gives customers adaptability to identify all data points in an operation. Quarries continue to evolve their operations by adopting customisable solutions which provide a high level of dashboard information so they can scorecard their operations. We’re going to see more of those individual point solutions adding value and transparency to that dashboard, eg a crushing plant that operates comparative to another crushing plant. That’s why the Trimble solution will be pivotal in the next few years. It will be about the data which guides a lot of quarrying businesses’ decisions.
What programs/services do SmartTech and Trimble offer beyond their key products?
We’re seeing more quarries taking on Legal for Trade certification to track material to a higher level of accuracy. Legal for Trade certifiable scales need to be approved by the National Measurement Institute (NMI), and we’ve spent five years developing our certified weights, staff and heavy vehicles to meet the NMI certification standard.
That ties in with our service component. While there are technology solutions in the market, few providers like SmartTech do the entire end to end process of installation, warranty, support, etc. We call ourselves a “self-performing” technology provider.
Is Chain of Responsibility (CoR) an ongoing concern for quarries?
Our safety business has flourished because we’ve combined end to end solutions for CoR. Overloading prevention is a huge client focus. It’s a challenge because you’re loading out material and you’re liable for the amount that goes into a truck, even if it’s not your vehicle. An exact record of the total weight allocated per off-road vehicle is key.
We’ve worked with civil contractors and quarries on the SmartTech Virtual Superintendent (VS) app as an overloading solution. It’s a powerful tool for managing construction materials loads that go from the quarry to the construction site. VS goes hand in hand with Insight, requiring an API to provide combined information of on-highway vehicles’ mass so you can have portfolios focused on fleet management, production KPIs, and individual assets while monitoring CoR liability.
What innovations are your products adopting to save time and costs in the quarrying environment?
Actionable insights are key – customising parameters for what is actionable for a business. A platform like Insight gives us potential to add more information from point solutions across a site – so we can build the dashboard that helps the customer manage particular parts of their operations, driving greater efficiency and profit.
What will be the quarrying industry’s major challenges in the next three years?
CoR is ongoing, safety is key – it won’t just be overloaded machines but best practice operations on-site to tackle risks such as exposure to respirable crystalline silica. It will be part of a real shift in coming years to ensure proactive safety measures.
Another motivator is smarter, sustainable ways of extracting information. Customers are asking suppliers about ways to offset the carbon footprint to the tonne. We don’t have the solution now but the information is becoming more valuable. It will be a big development area in the next five years.
How can Trimble and SmartTech Australia assist the industry with these challenges?
Our focus is continuing the work with our clients to identify and comprehend their pain points, providing end to end solutions in timely, competitive and efficient fashion.
We feel proud and privileged to have created a national business whose backbone is the Trimble LOADRITE product, an Australian and New Zealand brand that continues to be best in class due to its rugged pedigree and ongoing engineering. We’re excited to continue to offer this solution to the market for many years to come.
For more information about LOADRITE and Trimble, visit trimble.com
For more about SmartTech Australia’s products and solutions, visit smarttechaustralia.com.au
This article appears in January’s ‘Industry Leaders’ issue of Quarry Magazine.