Interface Specification Between Concrete Batching/Dispatching Software and Quality Control/Mix Design Software – BCQCI

Concrete batching/dispatching and quality control/mix design software have a mutually beneficial need to communicate with each other.  Currently, no universal application programming interface (API) exists for this purpose other than the ULINK protocol, which is seriously outdated and limited.  ULINK uses the BYSYNC protocol that was developed by IBM almost 50 years ago in 1967.  Needless to say…it is time for an upgrade.  However, ULINK is still in use today as the primary means used to communicate between some batching software systems and other third-party software products, such as dispatch and quality control software.   As a result of being outdated and having limited capabilities, some batching software vendors have created their own mechanisms to communicate with third-party software.  These implementations are unique to that batching software and therefore are not shared among the industry.
To address this need, we developed an interface specification that can be used between concrete batching/dispatching software and quality control/mix design software.  It also could be expanded to be used for other purposes including the communication between central dispatch systems and local batch systems.  The name of this interface is BCQCI.
The BCQCI can use the extensible markup language (XML) or the JavaScript Object Notation (JSON).  XML is a text-based open standard markup language for encoding documents in a format that is readable by both machines and humans.  JSON is a lightweight text-based open standard that is readable by both machines and humans.  The XML and JSON formats were chosen for this interface as they are widely used and they are simple to read, write, understand, use, and extend.  Each batching/dispatching software company can decide independently which format to use. 
The method of communication between the batching/dispatching and quality control/mix design software will depend on the capabilities of each system.  The preferred approach is to use a RESTful web service, which is a method of communicating over the internet or intranet.  The RESTful web service approach can provide a very robust interface between the software products since data can be both requested and submitted in real-time. The web service approach does not require specific knowledge of the other system to implement the interface.  An alternative approach is to use file transfers where each system monitors folders and imports/exports the files.  The file transfer approach, although limited, can still provide an alternative to the ULINK protocol.

The current implementation of the BCQCI allows for transfer of information related to the following: Materials, Mix Designs, Batch Results, Customers, and Plants.  Materials, such as aggregates, are commonly tested and managed using quality control software.  Mix designs are commonly developed and tested using specialized software that includes both mix design and quality control functionality.  Test results, such as gradations, are commonly used in the development and management of mix designs but are rarely managed by batching software.  Batch results are created by batching software but are very usefulness from a quality control stand-point.  Customers and plants are features commonly shared by both batching and quality control software.  Since the information related to concrete mix design development, testing, and batching is commonly performed by different software packages it is advantageous to have a common interface and seamless integration between the different software programs that use this information.

Stonemont Solutions and Kronware have implemented the BCQCI so that these resources can be easily and seamlessly transferred between these software systems.  For concrete batching/dispatching and quality control software providers interested in implementing the BCQCI, the specification document is available upon request from Stonemont Solutions. Although the BCQCI provides an updated interface, Stonemont Solutions is committed to work with any and all concrete batching/dispatching software providers regardless of the interface.

For more information please contact Stonemont Solutions, Inc.

Adrian Field
Stonemont Solutions, Inc.

Christopher Kranich