January 24, 2024


Win-Win: How Prairie Materials Used Concrete.ai’s AI Copilot To Cut Costs + Carbon Footprint

The concrete industry is staring down a triple challenge: achieving uncompromised product quality, reducing costs, and minimizing environmental impact. 

Concrete producers are seeking the optimal mixes to succeed, but navigating complex material supply chains and shifting costs is challenging and time-consuming. Adding to this challenge is concrete’s critical role in climate change. Producers are embracing the opportunity to reverse concrete’s impact on the environment – estimated at 9% of global emissions – with bold products and strategies. 

To support this movement, the Inflation Reduction Act is offering more than $5 billion to incentivize the use of low-carbon building materials. These incentives will be key to meeting the government agencies’ 2032 target – to cut emissions by all buildings, campuses, and installations by 50% compared to a 2008 baseline and secure a clear path toward net-zero emissions.

Key to meeting the market’s needs is the ability to rapidly predict performance while reducing material costs and lowering the carbon footprint. But with millions of data points and a myriad of decision points, producers are challenged to optimize mix designs efficiently. In response, Concrete.ai has developed Concrete Copilot, an AI-assisted mixed design tool that delivers both efficiencies and cost reductions. 

Concrete Copilot offers producers a comprehensive and user-friendly software experience. The generative AI Mix Optimization feature allows producers to tailor mixes for cost efficiency, CO2 reduction, or a combination of both. Other features include Concrete.ai’s Management Dashboards that deliver insights into how to maximize margins, identify carbon offset opportunities, and compare production across producers’ plants. The platform provides performance predictions, such as slump and strength, for every truckload. Putting all of these features, and many more, in the hands of producers delivers everything they need to achieve optimal mix designs.

Take Prairie Materials, for example. Operating in the competitive Chicagoland markets, Prairie’s management wanted to offer a more sustainable mix catalog and reduce lead times for new products. Collaborating with our team, the initial phase involved small-scale optimization at a single plant, fine-tuning material combinations, and exploring Concrete Copilot’s capabilities. As our technology integrated into Prairie’s daily operations, it expanded to encompass the majority of its plants in key markets.

Using our platform’s real-time analysis, Prairie can easily adjust to market shifts, including handling new cement formulations and raw materials. Concrete Copilot’s customization options empower producers to select optimal concrete recipes, predicting performance within seconds. In addition, because carbon reduction is included as a design criterion – a step further than an output of designs – Prairie has all the information needed to secure contracts from builders for sustainable concrete. Integrating with Prairie’s current and historical data has streamlined its design process, allowing quick adaptation to material availability or cost shifts and enabling it to maintain its competitive edge in the market. 

Prairie Materials achieved a consistent 30% reduction in carbon emissions while reducing material costs. The onboarding process for Concrete Copilot was seamless, and Prairie found the platform’s interface intuitive and straightforward to execute daily operations.

Concrete Copilot’s impact on Prairie Materials showcases a win-win situation for concrete producers and the environment. As we see a shift in the industry toward greener practices, Prairie’s success proves that performance, environmental responsibility, and cost efficiency can go hand-in-hand.

Prairie Materials owns and operates a network of ready-mix concrete and aggregate facilities in Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. It is part of Votorantim Cimentos North America (VCNA), an international building materials company with locations on five continents.