Supplier relationships, effective equipment choices key at Pavestone
A leader in its industry, Pavestone Co. manufactures segmental concrete products for commercial, residential, contractor, industrial, municipal and retail consumer markets. The 26-year-old Grapevine, Texas-based company has 20 regional manufacturing locations and distributes its products in more than 40 states.
“We operate from coast to coast across the continental U.S.,” says Bobby Hindman, vice president of transportation. “Our private fleet is based at company locations from Boston to California, and is used to bring raw materials to plants and deliver finished products to customers. Considering the size and scope of our business, buying the right equipment for our operation and working with suppliers who are committed to meeting our needs for the long haul is very important.”
To effectively meet its equipment needs, Pavestone has established solid relationships with vendors.
“We strive to remain loyal to them and we receive the same level of commitment in return,” Hindman says. “We began some of our supplier partnerships more than 10 years ago and have stayed on top of them. One reason we feel they continue to serve us well is because we invest time up front. Due diligence on our part in the beginning leads to working with the best sources for equipment and maintenance. It’s not about price, it’s about long-term commitment.”
Pavestone’s equipment choices indicate which suppliers the company has found to have the right products and services for its operation, Hindman says. The fleet, for example, includes 220 company-owned trailers and about 60 percent of those are Transcraft flatbeds that are used to deliver finished product to customers, including distributors, municipalities and retailers such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot.
“Transcraft flatbeds last at least seven years in our operation, and while we’re always adding new units to go with new tractors, we have refurbished some 1998 Transcraft models to keep as spares,” Hindman says. “With those on hand we can always rent tractors to meet demand, and because the trailers hold up so well, they look as good as new.”
Other trailers in the Pavestone fleet include Vantage end dumps and tankers built by Vantage in cooperation with Polar. Those vehicles are used to bring aggregate materials to company manufacturing facilities, which generally produce about four products each. In addition, 1,000 and 1,250 cu. ft. tanks handle loads of Portland cement used in the company’s production processes.
“Both Transcraft and Vantage offer the best products in the industry for our particular application,” Hindman says. “In some respects you could say they are over built. More importantly, these companies have been willing to work with us to meet some specialized needs by developing and building equipment with unique designs and specifications.
“For example, almost no one in the industry builds flatbeds under 40-ft. long because 45- and 48-ft. models have become standard,” Hindman says. “To handle the home delivery business we have with retailers like Home Depot, however, we need 32-ft. platform trailers with 3,000-lb. front counterweights so we can carry truck-mounted forklifts. Transcraft readily agreed to build those units for us and to coordinate with Moffett Engineering Ltd., the division of HIAB, a CargoTech company based in Ireland that manufactures the lifts we have on every trailer.”
Hindman also gives high marks to Ryder System, which supplies the fleet’s 160 tractors under a full-service lease agreement. The Freightliner Columbia power units see from 45,000 to 150,000 annual miles, depending on location and application. “At an average of 80,000 miles per year, we can lease the units for 72 to 84 months and still trade them in with plenty of life left for a second owner,” he says.
Pavestone also has placed an order for 25 new tractors to be delivered this year.
“We secured production slots early to be able to add tractors ahead of the 2007 emission-compliant engines,” he says. “We did not have a good experience with the 2004 models and wanted to avoid fielding any new 2007s.
“We have, however, stayed with the same engine specification, which calls for Detroit Diesel Series 60 models,” Hindman says. “We’ve worked closely with DDC to simulate performance and use that analysis to develop powertrain specs that provide for enough power to move loads and result in good fuel efficiency.”
Hindman says Pavestone has used simulation software at DDC to analyze the effect of different loads, grades and drivetrain specs on engine performance. The goal is to keep RPM range, gear ratio and road speed limits the same while spec’ing different component combinations. As a result, most Pavestone tractors are specified with 515-HP Series 60 engines, 13-speed Eaton Fuller transmissions and gear ratios ranging from 3.58 to 4.11.
The effort to spec fuel-efficient powertrains at Pavestone appears to have paid off. The fleet’s average last month, including older tractors, was 5.9 MPG, and some newer units were as high as 7 MPG, according to Hindman. Fuel for the fleet, which averages over $600,000 per month at today’s prices, is supplied at Ryder facilities nationwide.
“Our fuel economy is also improving thanks to our tire programs,” Hindman says. “All of our new trailers, for example, are now fitted with Michelin XZUS wide-based single tires and the Meritor Tire Inflation System (MTIS) by PSI. As much as 60 percent of our fuel savings comes from the trailer so these advanced technologies have a very positive impact.”
Hindman also points to effective preventive maintenance as contributing to the success of the Pavestone fleet operation. Ryder maintained tractors and trailers are typically serviced by a few in-house technicians and through dealers and authorized independent repair shops near company locations. The service operation, he adds, is coordinated very effectively by Bob Insley, Pavestone’s national maintenance technician. Insley, who is based in Houston, develops PM schedules and coordinates with service providers and location managers to ensure work is done properly and on time.
For Hindman, the value of effectively managing a fleet – from specification and purchase decisions to maintenance and repair programs – is something he learned at an early age. Having grown up in his father’s Florida-based ready-mix operation, he says he learned valuable lessons at an early age that he now employs on behalf of Pavestone.
That experience also fits perfectly with Pavestone’s long-standing dedication to providing a high level of quality in everything it does.
Since it was founded in 1980, from product design to manufacturing to distribution, Pavestone has been setting standards for service that have made it a leader in the industry it serves. FE
Pavestone Tractor Specifications
Model: Freightliner Columbia
Wheelbase: 192 inches
Engine: Detroit Diesel Series 60; 515 HP @ 1800 RPM, 1650 lb./ft. @ 1200 RPM
Clutch: Eaton Fuller Solo
Transmission: Eaton Fuller RTLO-16913A
Front Axle: ArvinMeritor FF961
Power Steering: TRW
Rear Axle: ArvinMeritor RT-40-145
Rear Suspension: Freightliner Airliner
Hubs: Con Met aluminum
Wheel Seals: Chicago Rawhide
Brakes: Meritor Q Plus
ABS: Meritor WABCO
Automatic Slack Adjusters: Meritor
Parking Brakes: MGM-TR
Tires: 295/75R22.5 Bridgestone; R260F steer, M726EL drive
5th Wheel: Fontaine
Air Compressor: Bendix, 15.9 CFM
Air Cleaner: Donaldson
Fan Clutch: Kysor
Batteries: (4) Delphi
Starter: Delco Remy
Alternator: Delco Remy, 135 amp
Fuel Heater: Davco
Block Heater: Phillips
Mirrors: Dual Bright, heated West Coast; Velvac, hood-mounted convex
Lighting: Grote, LED
Driver’s Seat: National 2000; high-back, air
Fuel Tanks: dual, 100 gallon, aluminum
Paint: Dupont Imron
Pavestone Trailer Specifications
Model: Transcraft TL-2000H, flatbed
Floor: 1-1/8-in. aluminum, 4 apitong nailers
Bulkhead: aluminum, removable
Storage Box: Aero Treadbright; 48-in., single door
Landing Gear: Jost
Hubs: Con Met, aluminum
ABS: Meritor WABCO
Slack Adjusters: Haldex
Tires: Michelin 455/55R22.5, X-One XZU S
Automatic Tire Inflation System: Meritor Tire Inflation System by PSI