The Future of Stockpile Inspections for the Aggregates Industry
BY Krishnan Hariharan
The global commercial drone market size was valued at $13.44 billion in 2020 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 57.5% from 2021 to 2028. This means major industries are quickly adopting the use of commercial drones, and the aggregates industry is no exception.
Industrial drones leverage the power of aerial intelligence and machine learning to increase data accuracy while reducing the time workers spend collecting and analyzing data. The benefits of smart inspections are applicable to the aggregates industry because drones have proven highly accurate when it comes to data collection, and their technology is frequently paired with advanced ML/AL algorithms.
Smart inspections allow the aggregates industry to perform hands-free inventory inspections in drastically less time by using drone technology, machine learning, AI, high-resolution imagery and cloud-based analytics. With smart inspections, aggregates managers don’t need to climb on stockpiles to take measurements for inventory. Instead, an AI-powered drone can do it for them. All they have to do is tap out a flight perimeter on a tablet, and the drone will fly the path and send captured aerial images and data to the cloud for analysis. After the worker merely had to man the tablet for a few minutes, the drone will land on its own.
Smart Inspections Mean Increased Accuracy
Drone manufacturers are constantly improving upon how their instruments fly and collect and analyze data, thanks to the power of AI and machine learning. These drones also can gather high-resolution videography and aerial imagery that is so accurate, it can even account for the slope of a stockpile, ensuring measurements are as spot-on as possible.
Even the best of us make mistakes. That’s why traditional forms of stockpile inventory measurement contain human error. With smart inspections, aggregates managers can be certain their data is as perfect as possible, with accuracy typically in the 1-3% range.
Technology Prioritizes Worker Safety, Efficiency
After lugging a shaky ladder up a stockpile, have you ever stopped to ask: With all the technology available to us today, why are we still performing stockpile inspections manually? When aggregates managers climb stockpiles, it’s not only dangerous, but also a liability.
Saving time is an additional perk to adopting smart inspections. After an employee selects a flight perimeter for the drone, the drone handles the rest and collects the data it needs in mere minutes. Then it uploads said data to the cloud for analysis by all who need it.
Drones are also a speedy choice because they can fly faster than humans can move, and they can also access areas that aren’t safe for people. For example, if a stockpile is steep and has tumbling materials in a specific area, the worker would have to really think about the best way to get to that location for measurement. This not only puts the worker in danger, but it wastes precious time. Meanwhile, if the worker had a drone, it could quickly fly right over the dangerous area and gather the data and imaging necessary.
Another speedy perk of smart inspection is that the drones share the data quickly, in addition to completing stockpile inspections in record time. Once the drone is finished with its flight, it sends the data it gathered to the cloud so that the aggregates worker has it within minutes, and the rest of his or her team can review it at the same time. This means teams can collaborate on and off-site, and speedy decisions about the inventory data can be made.
Smart Inspections are the Future
Aggregate companies have a unique opportunity when it comes to autonomous drones. They not only increase accuracy of stockpile measurement and keep employees safe, but they also save a significant amount of time. Smart inspections are the way forward when it comes to stockpile inspections.
Krishnan Hariharan is the CEO of Kespry, Menlo Park, California, a leader in touchless, drone-based aerial intelligence.