Imagine you have a quart-sized jar full of jelly beans. You’ve been asked to provide an accurate report of how many beans are within. Difficult, right? Now imagine you have a 50-foot-tall pile of jelly beans. How many beans do you have now? How much does that pile weigh? Would you sign a contract or pay money expecting to receive an accurate answer? Probably not.
So, how can clients trust they are receiving accurate numbers when purchasing things like rock, sand, or aggregate for landscaping, paving or larger-scale construction projects? By working with companies who employ drones to collect accurate stockpile measurements.
When quantity matters.
Indeed, businesses who manage construction aggregates, raw landscaping and building materials, rock and sand quarries or material stockpiles may seem like unsuspecting beneficiaries when it comes to utilizing the capabilities of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS). Quite the contrary. Flying a drone to confirm stockpile quantities has become one of the most reliable and trustworthy way to retain customers, minimizing the hassle, bartering and doubt that often comes with the exchange of money for these difficult-to-measure goods.
Keeping accurate inventory of the quantity, weight and location of each material is a challenge. There may be dozens of varieties, grades or sizes of rock, gravel or sand. Piles may spread across several properties or be relocated often to accommodate supply or demand. For these business owners, every stone or ounce of material equates to dollars won or lost. For customers of these businesses, precise numbers equate to an honest and fair return on their investment. Generating an accurate count means a win-win situation for both. Not only that, but forecasting and meeting the high demand for specific materials across a short northern construction season requires a significant logistics lift to crush and distill those materials from other material piles across several sites.
Until recently, businesses like these have relied upon calculated guesswork, equipment scales and a combination of truck tickets to estimate what volume of crush materials might remain on property. This has generally sufficed, provided that paperwork is always thoroughly recorded, scales are routinely calibrated and inventories are frequently conducted. Traditional land surveys have helped fill in the gaps as well.
Relying on the aforementioned methods of inventory can lead to discrepancies in purchasing and processing timelines. When does management know when to buy more source material or crush more rock to create certain types of gravel? How can they be sure that all product loads are being efficiently tracked, piled and accounted for?
In cases like this, quantity matters just as much as quality.
Efficient, drone-aided inventory.
Professional drone services now provide the solutions. Because accurate inventory equates to added value, drone flights are saving companies both time and money, as well as building critical customer trust when competition is more formidable than ever. In 20 minutes or less, a licensed drone pilot can fly an entire quarry or stock yard with minimal disruption to daily operations. In under 30 hours, company owners can be provided with much more accurate tonnage estimates for every pile across all quarries in their operation. Using specialized software which leverages data from the drone, a customized report for the whole quarry is generated automatically, detailing each pile’s tonnage and volume. It is so efficient, in fact, that several pits can be flown in a narrow window, synchronizing total company inventory reporting to a brief moment in time. This convenience can aid with better monitoring, ordering and budgeting, lending a big-picture view to decisions made at the ground level.
MSA’s Aerial Solutions team is comprised of MSA staff who serve as pilots, surveyors, video editors and marketers—active in pursuing drone technologies and software solutions since the inception of the FAA’s expansion of commercial use drones in 2016. Licensed for commercial operations, the team assists clients with a variety of projects including asset management, topographic survey, construction observation, agricultural inspection and mapping, infrastructure analysis, 3D modeling and real-time review of in-progress community projects and the marketing thereof. Ready to streamline your next project? Connect with us, and let’s get started.