Rock to Road

Features Aggregates Heavy Equipment Safety
Industry insights from World of Asphalt/AGG1 2024

The top trends and topics from 2024's World of Asphalt/AGG1 Academy & Expo

May 6, 2024  By  Jack Burton

CDE’s customer relationship manager, Andrew Bunting, offered a walk-through of the company’s new SmartTech plant management software.

In addition to the many products and equipment solutions on display at this year’s World of Asphalt/AGG1, we also took the time to connect with leading experts and industry players on the trends they see, and their practices and products for meeting them head-on.

1. Driving forward with data
Nestled between the massive displays of equipment across the trade show floor were dozens of booths from providers tackling digitization across all aspects of the aggregate supply chain, from plant operations to on-site management. CDE was one major producer stepping into the software ring, with the processing plant giant spotlighting its new SmartTech software solution. 

SmartTech is CDE’s new plant management app, designed to provide operators with precise, actionable data regarding performance and maintenance scheduling to increase productivity, efficiency and uptime. 

Sensors across the plant continuously monitor and track performance data on a range of variables, including material tonnage and flow rates, uptime and resource usage, to provide accessible health metrics from anywhere in the world. CDE’s process engineers then analyze data for any trends that suggest proactive maintenance or areas for optimization. 


This technology also provides operators with greater control over maintenance and upkeep, with features allowing for the creation of checklists, repair and issue logs, photograph sharing and report generation. All of this data serves to support a maintenance process that’s carried out in the right way and at the right time, the company shared.

In addition to notifying managers when replacement parts are required, the SmartTech app also provides a platform for ordering these parts, though this feature is more than a vending tool: through a 3D plant rendering, users can see their facilities and equipment mapped out part-by-part and order accordingly, whether that be a new motor or a replacement bolt. 

Among the many emerging aggregates and construction software companies featured at World of Asphalt/AGG1 was CrewTracks. Launched in 2016, the CrewTracks platform features materials and production tracking for monitoring operational efficiency, and scheduling and daily reporting options for managing on-site workforces.

Casey Black, sales manager for CrewTracks, believes that this transformational wave of data-driven operations and solutions is only beginning its crest across the construction industry. 

“The biggest thing to me is that everything is becoming more connected […] More historical information gives us a way to look back and find out what we did and didn’t do well, and how to increase optimization with each project,” he said. “More and more data is at the fingertips of companies, and we’re seeing that technology come closer to the forefront of the construction industry to help everyone be more efficient.”

Sandvik showcased their QI353 tracked impact crusher, with the design featuring a number of automation and operator experience features set to inform their future products.

2. Automating operator experience
Sandvik had its QI353 tracked impact crusher on display, and while the machine hit the market in 2021, it features technology and design choices that Sandvik shared are a sign of what’s to come across the company’s future products. 

The tracked impact crusher is designed to place choice at the centre of the operator experience, with all major functions and service points brought down to the operator level and high-pressure filters brought down to the grade level. However, central to this focus on operational choice is the debut of the Optik intuitive user experience automation system. 

“It’s the first time we’ve actually done this – for this machine, we stripped it all down and started from the ground up with a totally new system,” said Patrick Forrest, research and development director at Sandvik. “Really, I guess in simple terms, it just improved the user interface and the user experience on how to navigate your way through the system by bringing a lot more features and data down to the down to the panel.”

This automation system includes features such as a varying temperature system on the impactors and Sandvik’s telematics system, MyFleet, bundled standard on all shipped units.  This streamlined ability to track and control performance is set to inform the company’s design philosophy moving forward, shared Forrest. 

“It’s basically giving the operator readout, but you can control everything from the panel, and then all of that data is kind of sent back over the over the web as well,” Forrest said. “Again, it’s a fully ground-up development for us, and it starts with the QI353.”

Already, these features and unified user interface system have been included across other models in Sandvik’s new Gen-3 series, along with their fully-electric and larger-sized UJ443 model. Automation has also found its way into the user experience design of the company’s cone crushers, with Sandvik’s 800i series featuring the ACS-c 5 automation and connectivity system.

3. The changing safety mindset
Safety is always a key topic of concern across aggregate operations, but the picture of safety put forth by both exhibitors and presenters was one of an issue undergoing a continued evolution. 

Victor E. Jayne, an industrial and safety specialist at Motion, spoke of the shifting priorities he has noticed over his 18 years with the company, and the new procedures and protocols that have risen in priority as the sector’s relationship to safety continues to shift. 

“Safety has grown leaps and bounds in the last 10 years because everybody’s become more aware of it. Slip, trip and fall will always be the number one safety issue, but two things that have moved up the category list would be arc flash and lockout-tagout,” Jayne said. 

With this shift, Motion has acted accordingly, offering customers not only a range of safety products and lockout-tagout devices, but also refining their procedures to ensure workforces are protected, no matter the changes that need to be accommodated. 

“At Motion, we offer all kinds of solutions where we partner with [companies] like Brady or Accuform, where we can go in and help write lockout-tagout procedures,” he said. “Our goal is, everybody who goes to work that day, we want to get them home safe in the evening.”

Part of these changes come from an overall shift in safety culture and hazard management mindsets. 

In their presentation titled “Company Culture is the Foundation of Your Safety Culture,” Katie Woodhall, director of safety at Beaver Excavating and Ami Gignac, director of operations at GLC Minerals, shared the benefits of joining the trending shift away from a condition-based safety mindset and toward a behaviour-based perspective. 

According to the presentation, 85 per cent of workplace accidents are a result of a person’s behaviour, with only 12 per cent being based on conditions. To align with this reality, a move toward prioritizing your workplace’s relationship and actions as related to safety, rather than just ensuring a compliant environment, is necessary.  

“If you think about this shift, we lived in condition-based safety world forever,” said Woodhall. “When we started doing root cause analysis, what we found is that when you drill into it, it’s not an accident, it’s a human. The biggest shift that you will see when shifting your safety culture is to really talk about the human element of it.”

Recentering your organization’s safety philosophy around the humans that comprise your workplace rather than the environment create a shift toward preparedness and prevention, rather than reacting after these incidents have occurred. 

“These condition-based safety programs, they’re going to be more focused on compliance, with all of your training based on regulations. But with that, you’re treating the symptom rather than the cause – it’s reactive.” Gignac said.

“Condition based is reactive, its after the fact, whereas behaviour based is proactive and about preventing these incidents,” Woodhall added.

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