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Road Builders Automate Material Delivery and Weighing With RFID

Florida technology company DTSystems has developed a solution to automatically link a vehicle and a driver with delivery information, as well as the weight of the dirt, lime or rock being delivered to a site and billed for.
By Claire Swedberg
May 21, 2019

Heavy highway contractors worldwide are employing an RFID-based system to automatically track the arrivals and departures of vehicles on a work site, and to link each vehicle to the weight of the dirt or other material it is delivering. The Sonitrax Online solution, provided by DTSystems, was initially developed to bring visibility and automation to deliveries and billing processes, and has since been used to manage traffic at work sites, according to Frank Nicotera, DTSystems' president and CEO.

The solution saves road-building projects thousands or even millions of dollars by preventing errors or fraud during the delivery process, as well as reducing the amount of labor required for recording the activities of delivery vehicles. Nicotera says he founded DTSystems to solve a common problem in road construction. Having been a project manager himself, he has found that tracking the delivery of materials by third-party companies was a manual process that was time-consuming and labor-intensive, and that introduced the potential for errors and fraud.

The system links a vehicle and its driver with delivery information, along with the weight of the dirt, lime or rock being delivered.
A large portion of road and highway construction requires dirt. Lime and rock are delivered from outside a site, often by third-party providers. Typically, vehicle operators bill for the amount of material they report having delivered, and a contractor employee will gather tickets from the driver at the job site. The general contractor will then quantify tickets to match the invoice received from the trucking vendor for payment.

However, Nicotera found, these third-party companies often tended to bill for more material than they'd actually delivered. Even though businesses use GPS technology to track the locations of their vehicles, and though they use scales to weigh the materials they bring onsite, there was no automated way to link a particular driver, company and vehicle to each delivery. The reality, he says, is that errors were being made.

At one airport where a runway was being built, Nicotera found that about half a million dollars' worth of dirt had been purchased that was unaccounted for on the job site. There are several reasons this might happen, he explains. A driver could sell part of a load to another party, then still bill the contractor at the airport for that material, or he or she simply might not make a scheduled delivery. With hundreds of trucks entering and leaving a site, tracking every delivery proved nearly impossible.

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