Hello, construction world. I’m here with Kent, who is the dispatch manager of an Alberta underground and earthworks and transportation company.
VIZZN: Can you give us a little background on your day-to-day functions as a construction company equipment dispatch manager.
Kent: Apart from the hiring, firing, disciplinary action within the transportation department, I manage the dispatch side. So for all the movement of our trucks, which includes gravel, material halls, such as concrete, pipe, and things like that, and then also our heavy equipment from site to site. What will happen is a superintendent or somebody else in the field will request a piece of machinery to be moved from site one to site two. And I will facilitate that by choosing the right trucks and however many wheels we need, depending on the size of the machine to get the equipment to the site. Anything that’s moving, I’m behind it.
VIZZN: How many machines are you in charge of, what are you moving to the job sites?
Kent: So for transport, we’ve got 24 power units, six trailers, and then all the people to move on with those pieces of equipment. So we’ve got the step deck low boys all the way up to a 64 slash 76 dolly trailers with plugin capabilities. We’ve got two pilot trucks as well, depends on the width for the pilot trucks.
We move probably upwards of 500 pieces of equipment in the heavy haul situation. For dispatches, we handle more than the 500 moves. We’ve got four gravel trucks and two material haul trucks. So every day I can potentially have as high as four dispatches for gravel trucks, each one of them could have one dispatch each and as material haul trucks. So you’d be well over that 1000 dispatch mark in a year easily.
VIZZN: And who works with you within your direct team? How many people?
Kent: I've got, I'm going to say 14 people right now. In the office there’s me and one other person.
VIZZN: And who reports to you. Who do you report to?
Kent: Nicole? My transport department reports to me. And I report to the general manager and the company president.
VIZZN: How many job sites on average does your company work in a year?
Kent: We have 21 actives on this day. So in a year, probably 8200.
VIZZN: Who externally do you have to deal with?
Kent: I deal with a couple of companies, pipelines, some other smaller demolition companies, that have two or three pieces of equipment that they use solely. I picked up a company called Clearstream that does turnarounds that’s a subsidiary in Flint. Who else do I use right now? That's about it right now.
VIZZN: And how about city permits and that sort of thing? How many any of those kinds of companies do you have to deal with or is that taken care of?
Kent: Oh yeah. I do all the permitting myself, upwards of ten permits, at least, sometimes depending on the capacity of what's going on.
VIZZN: So it would be the city of Calgary, Rockyview County.
Kent: That's all done through one system. The way the department works in Alberta is we have a program called TRAVIS by the Alberta government. What happens is you submit your combinations of your truck/trailer, all of the pertinent information for that permit. Then, from there, it distributes it to any municipality, or anybody who owns that road. It will be distributed from them and they will approve their portion of the project. And there's only a select few municipalities that aren't on that approval system where you have to phone them directly and talk to one of them because it is too small to have somebody approve the system. This includes road bans as well.
VIZZN: Let's talk about Vizzn. When did you start using it?
Kent: This would be two years ago. I was one of the first people to start using it within the company.
VIZZN: And how long have you been in construction or in transport or dispatch?
Kent: Well, transport worldwide since I was 18, so for 16 years.
VIZZN: Before you're using Vizzn, how many people were you phoning, emailing, messaging on a given day?
Kent: Easily upwards of 100 calls in a day, it could spike to 200 depending on the days and the situations. The bigger moves, like an 870 move, means I have five different points of contact. I got the truck that's hauling the machine, I got the two pilot trucks. I got the person that's hauling the counterweight and then potentially the superintendent of whoevers on site to make sure she's ready to go. And if something changes, time frame, I'm calling all those people all over again. Right.
VIZZN: And with Vizzn, how have things changed?
Kent: Well, I definitely don't use my phone as much anymore. Vizzn has the oversight that we really wanted. My thoughts on it is it has made my job easier, I'm doing it differently. It has lowered the amount of phone calls, but that was more of a style change than anything. When we ran dispatch before we had Vizzn - It was literally just a book. I had an itinerary, I need this machine move from this place to this place. I record that for my day on my notepad and you can say schedule it. I had another book to actually put it into so I knew who was going where at all times, at what time frame. When Vizzn came in, I didn't need to do that anymore. That information is all in Vizzn. t I don't write it down now.
Like I said, it has lowered my messaging in my phone calls. Vizzn has taken 90% of what I did before and streamlined it. As a company, it's changed how we've done things because before I would get a phone call at 5:00 at night saying this is an emergency move, you need to move it tomorrow morning at 6:00. Now, my position is not to question whether they need it or not. My position is to make things happen. And some people would use that as leverage to get things that they wouldn't necessarily normally get. And once it's there, it's beyond the fact that nobody cares if it's on the site, if it's working or whatever that situation. With Vizzn, because it's an open book, anybody can look at what's going on. The first year we would have meetings. Why is this person requesting this move that late at night? Right. And now those moves stop, right? Like by half. So gravel order used to come in at 6:00 at night. Now they come in 11. And if they're not in by 11, I phone them and if they don't get in, they don't get done. Like I have time frames where I can do it. So I've actually structured my day around Vizzn because I can actually do my job in a shorter time period.
It's the same amount of work, but it's in a shorter time period. Whereas before I would wait around at work at five or 6:00 waiting for phone calls to be able to dispatch the next day. Right. And it's easier for my drivers now, too, because I can dispatch them for three days in advance. It pops up on their phone. And if I didn't phone them, I still do, but if I didn't phone them, they'd know where they're going for the next two, three days, which is for a lot of guys, especially if you're on a day to day basis is nice to know because it's nice to have some sort of structure. I know I'm doing this tomorrow. I know this is going to take me approximately this much time and then I'm doing these next three things right after that. So I've got a big day plan for that, right? Whereas before it was,
“I think you're going here, call Me in the morning.”