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The dispatcher's job is fast paced and can involve long hours. It is the job of the dispatcher to keep each truck delivering concrete during every working hour of every given day. On busy days, many calls can come through the dispatch office. The majority of those calls come in at one of three times during the day; early morning, lunchtime, and late afternoon. Each one of the calls coming into the dispatch office represents orders that can make or break a dispatcher's schedule. When on the telephone with a customer, the dispatcher has only one or two minutes in which he must get all the pertinent information about the order. He must understand how to tell a driver to get to the job as well as make the decision if the order can be taken when the customer wants it and, if not, when. The dispatcher is always caught in the middle between trying to make on-time deliveries, and maintaining high levels of production.

The dispatch office is the heart of every ready mixed concrete producer. Dispatchers are often involved in and need to acquire knowledge of all aspects of the ready mixed concrete business. Since dispatchers have to work closely with customers, relationships are often developed over the telephone.

With so much going on, how does a dispatcher manage to stay on top of his trucks and orders? Some of it is truly an art form or a feeling. Some dispatchers can look over their order board or their cards and tell when they can take another order. While all good dispatchers get the "feeling", their dispatching is aided with the use of computers and two-way radios.

Every order is typed into the dispatch software with the entire job, design mix, and customer information. The dispatcher also enters a couple of time elements. It takes an average of 6 minutes per yard to unload a truck. Unless a customer tells the dispatch office that the job will take longer, someone with an order of 5 yards will be given an unloading time of 30 minutes. This is put in with the other information. Dispatchers get a feeling for the area that they dispatch. They are fairly good at knowing travel times. For the computer to be helpful with scheduling, other information is also needed. We know that it takes about 5 minutes to load a truck. It takes 5 minutes to wash the fins down and mix the concrete in the yard. We also know that it takes approximately 15 minutes to wash down at the end of a pour. Let's use an example to see how the software technology can take all these times and help schedule. Suppose a 5-yard order is due on the job at 7:30 am with travel time of 15 minutes. The software will tell the dispatcher when to start loading the truck and when to expect the truck to return and be ready for another load.

7:05am Begin loading the truck   5-minutes loading time
7:10am Begin washing down in yard   5-minutes wash down time
7:15am Truck leaves the yard   15-minutes travel time to job
7:30am Truck arrives on job   30-minutes unloading time
8:00am Truck is empty    15 minutes was down time
8:15am Truck leaves the job    15 minutes travel time back to plant
8:30am Truck is back in the yard and ready for the next load

Now the dispatcher knows that he needs to start loading a truck for this order at 7:05am and that this truck will be ready to take another load at 8:30am. Let's assume the next load has the same travel time of 15 minutes. The dispatcher could take this order to be on the job at 8:55am.

You can help the dispatch office by keeping them informed of anything that happens that might back their schedule up. Be realistic about the time it's going to take to unload a truck. Let dispatch know if pours are going to take extra time.

Things you can do to help Dispatch and Yourself When Ordering
  • The biggest thing you can do to help yourself get the delivery time you are looking for is to give dispatch plenty of advance notice. If you know what you are doing tomorrow, let dispatch know. If you are planning a very big pour, let dispatch know days in advance. It's not uncommon for large floor or paving pours to start talking to dispatch a week in advance. Even if it's a "will call", dispatch can better help you when they are given advance notice.
  • If you give dispatch a "will call" order, you should still confirm the order a couple of hours ahead of time. Dispatch does not sit on trucks for customers to call and release them. A two hour notice gives dispatch time to make a timely delivery of your concrete.
  • The more information that you give dispatch about what you are doing, the better able they are to work with you. Keep them informed of problems that arise on the job.
  • Have job site addresses, or nearest intersections, and zip codes when placing orders. Give dispatch an hour's notice if you need to cancel or change an order. Most concrete is loaded 30 to 45 minutes before it is due on the job site.
  • Our friendly dispatchers are always ready to take your order.
  • Our drivers receive loading and delivery instructions from dispatch and deliver each custom load on time to the customer.