Drones for Stockpile Management
Construction companies use stockpile measurements to keep track of their supplies and materials.
Regular inventory of stockpiles helps determine if there is enough materials on site to complete the job, how much to order if they’re short and how much waste to transport off-site.
Drones enable quicker, safer and easier stockpile management, compared to traditional methods.
How Are Stockpile Volumes Measured Traditionally?
On a given site could take a surveyor, using traditional handheld equipment, such as laser scanner or total station about a day to measure the stockpiles on site and process the data.
To do this, they must navigate the busy work site and climb large stockpiles which is risky.
Depending on how much material was being assessed, the measuring process could take hours or days with manual tools.
Limited data points are captured leading to an average measurement being calculated.
In some cases, companies will simply “eyeball” a stockpile - an approach riddled with inaccuracies that should be avoided at all costs.
Manual data-collection methods are conducted in hard-to-reach locations, where personnel can be exposed to hazardous materials or situations.
How Can Drones Be Used For Stockpile Measurement and Analysis?
The process for using a drone to measure stockpiles begins with planning, initially completed off site.
A flight plan is drawn up and loaded to the drones flight control software where the flight path is calculated.
The remote pilot will need to to input some variables about the area being flown such as height, speed and camera settings.
DroneWorks use RTK enabled drones to ensure consistency and accuracy in the data collected. This is verified by the placement of ground control point (or GCP's) around the site.
The drone will automatically fly the planned route, capturing a series of overlapped images of the site including the stockpiles them selves.
The remote pilot will not need to move around the site as long as they can see the drone at all times. This means they can stand off at a safe location and monitor the drone.
Once image collection is complete, images are verified on site before being processed using specialist software.
This software will make use of GCP's to ensure the data is accurate and in the correct coordinate system.
A digital terrain model is created from which a triangular irregular network (TIN) surface is created of the site and its stockpiles.
From this TIN, the volume can be calculated and the tonnage also estimated (if we know the grade / density of the material).
Software is used to compile a stockpile volume report to be shared with the client.
Cloud software can also be used to share the surface model with the project team and their surveyors / engineers. They can then work with the data as if they had collected it themselves.
Why Use Drones For Stockpile Volumes?
Three main benefits are immediately realised:
Reduced time on and off site
Reduced risk to engineers
Reducing cost and risk of stockpile measurements is just one of many ways drones are saving construction companies money.
Better Supply Chain Logistics
Reduce Write Offs
Time and Cost Saving
A 30ha site can be surveyed by drone in under an hour. Even a 100ha site can be covered in a single day.
Data can be available the same day if required, but usually delivered within 24 - 48 hours.
This means accurate data is delivered near real-time. Due to the speed and cost benefits of a drone survey, it can be repeated more frequently.
Having accurate data in a timely manner helps project managers improve their decision-making when it comes to stockpile inventory management. To effectively manage their supply chain, construction companies need accurate information from the project’s start to its finish.
Construction companies can avoid unexpected costs by starting with accurate information early on.
Drone surveys for stockpile measurements provide answers quickly and with accuracy so PMs are empowered to make the best decisions...
Many surveyors do not enjoy collecting stockpile data because it’s a dangerous job, climbing large piles of shifting material, which puts them at risk for falls and injury.
On busy construction sites, there’s heavy machinery traveling about the site to be mindful of.
Drones enable safe stockpile measurements by allowing workers to collect measurements from a safe and distanced location. A pre-programmed flight path enables the drone to essentially fly the mission itself, with a remote pilot and visual observer ensuring the flight goes safely and smoothly.
The benefits of using drones for stockpile measurements are apparent. Drones increase the speed, accuracy, and frequency of stockpile measurements while improving worker safety, reducing costs, and facilitating better decision-making and planning for construction companies.
How Are Drones Impacting The Construction Industry?
Since drones were first introduced to the construction industry, the demand for them has continuously grew and expanded. There is nonsurprise due to how useful they can be for your construction company. It has been estimated that drones will help the construction industry save up to £3.5bnby 2030! This is going to create a substantially positive impact towards construction as this saved capital can be reinvested towards further improvements to help the workers and develop current technology, machinery, and operations.
Over the next few years, we are going to continue to see improvements and developments which is going to benefit all of us as drones become more and more popular. There is going to be more drones being used by more companies looking to partner with specialist, qualified companies for drone construction inspections.