3 Reasons DOTs Should Measure Stockpile Inventory with an iPhone

Statewide Departments of Transportation have a unique challenge when it comes to measuring stockpiles. Unlike aggregates or ready-mix producers who have all of their stockpiles in a few locations, DOTs have hundreds of stockpiles scattered around thousands of miles of highway. On top of the geographic challenge, the stockpiles are often located close to busy highways where car and truck traffic pose extra safety risks to surveyors.

Despite the unique challenges that DOTs face, transportation departments are required to keep an accurate and up to date inventory of their stockpile inventory. Fortunately, advancing technology plays a large role in aiding states governments with tracking stockpile inventory.

The most popular tool for measuring stockpile inventory in the past couple of years has been the drone. However, we have three compelling reasons why an iPhone is the best choice for measuring DOT stockpiles.

Reason #1: Easy to Deploy

One of the biggest advantages to using an iPhone as a stockpile measurement tool is the fact that you most likely already have one at each site. Your IT department will have no issues buying and deploying an iPhone on the occasion that you don’t already have one available.

All you need to measure a stockpile is an iPhone, 2 safety cones, and a tape measure.

Unlike drones, most people already know how to operate an iPhone. The learning curve for training is minimal. More importantly, your employees will not have to get certified by the FAA to fly a drone because they’ll be doing the same measurements with an iPhone alone.

LEARN MORE: Why Companies Need to Part 107 Certify Their Drone Pilots

The need to have your pilots FAA certified means that you will have a limited number of employees who can fly a drone to measure stockpiles. This can be burdensome when a crew of pilots has to drive hundreds of miles between stockpile yards. This problem is easily solved by deploying an iPhone to each site where employees are already stationed.

Reason #2: You Can Measure Anywhere

An commonly overlooked fact when building an enterprise drone program is that there are many places a drone can’t be legally flown. For example, you can’t fly a drone within 5 miles of a towered airport without permission from air traffic authorities. Also, a drone can’t be flown over moving vehicles. This could cause issues for DOTs measuring stockpiles on the side of a busy highway. Measuring stockpiles with an iPhone skips the hassle of determining where you can and can’t fly the drone. Regardless of your location, you are safe to measure with an iPhone.

READ: No Drone, No Problem with Stockpile Reports

iPhones also can measure stockpiles in poor weather. In fact, Stockpile Reports perfected the iPhone measurement system in the rainy Pacific Northwest. This may be a crucial factor in the winter time when the weather calls for rain and wind. Drones can only fly in light winds and no rain.

Rain and wind is no challenge for the iPhone

Reason #3: iPhones Can Measure Indoor Piles

Indoor piles have traditionally been a big issue for drone measurements. Flying indoors with a drone is risky and often leads to poor outcomes. Surveyors attempting to measure indoors with traditional survey equipment also run into large headaches without the aid of GPS. Measuring stockpiles with an iPhone voids all of these issues.

Salt piles need to be stored under roofs to protect the material from water. iPhone measurement is your only option in these circumstances.

The iPhone is a perfect solution for indoor stockpiles. A typical measurement with the iPhone takes 5 minutes or less. The iPhone can also measure stockpiles with walls around material which is essential for salt sheds. During the winter, DOTs using our service typically measure their covered salt stockpiles on a weekly basis to ensure they don’t run out during a storm event. Even if you could measure covered stockpiles with a drone, getting a drone pilot out to every salt stockpile on a weekly basis would be impossible.


While drones are one of the more popular solutions for stockpile measurement, drones are a great tool for many applications, but not all. There are many circumstances where an iPhone measurement tool makes more logistical sense.

iPhones may not be perceived as accurate, but the TxDOT performed a study on our iPhone measurement service and determined that we were +/- 2% of a lidar scan measurement. This is an incredible outcome and we believe that the iPhone can be a valid and valuable tool for stockpile inventory measurement.

For more information, please contact us and we’d be happy to walk you through our iPhone measurement app for stockpiles.