CASE STUDY: Volumetric Measurement of Stockpiles with Drones

Drones for Mining and Aggregates

SUMMARY: Unmanned aircraft systems represent a quicker, more accurate, and more cost efficient method of measuring stockpile volumes in the mining and aggregates industry. Yet sometimes change come slow, forcing evangelists to maintain patience and focus to achieve a desired shift in methodology.

PROBLEM: The aggregates and mining industry has traditionally used somewhat laborious and inaccurate surveying techniques such as measuring wheels to calculate stockpile volumetric to determine inventory value. These measurements need to be performed accurately by an independent party, to ensure authenticity of the results. Oftentimes the results are slow coming and less-than-accurate.

SOLUTION: Unmanned aircraft systems can now capture volumetric measurements more quickly and effectively using photogrammetry and LiDAR. However, old habits die hard. Effecting change within traditional organization using established work flow tools can be daunting. Nevertheless, the speed, efficiency, and accuracy of data from UAS will eventually serve as a catalyst for change. "At this point we’ve measured thousands of stockpiles with drone imaging. We’ve approximately 950 independent data points with stockpiles measured with laser at the same time as we have measured it with a drone. On average we have seen about 1-2% variance in volumes," says Michael Singer, CEO of DroneView Technologies. "We intuitively believed that to be the case, and now empirically have the documentation to support that."

"This variance is one of the important ingredients to be credible as a third party services provider as well as helping to be the catalyst for change within an industry," adds Singer. "We think that change is going to be coming, and we think it’s coming quickly because of the impact UAVs can make things faster, cheaper, safer and more efficient for a project and even an entire organization."

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