Have It Your Way: Measure with an iPhone, Drone, and Airplane

Stockpile inventory management is often a real source of ongoing frustration for the companies that have approached Stockpile Reports for help. The challenges of measuring the volume of stockpiled materials are many. These include accessibility, safety, costs, scheduling and managing competing priorities. Before discovering our service, many of our clients didn’t think they had a choice other than hiring an expensive surveyor for accurate stockpile measurement.

We’re here to make your job easier, whether you are a quarry manager or the CFO. Choose the method that works best for your location and needs, via an iPhone, drone, airplane, or a combination.

Measure Using an iPhone

Bunker measurement training onsite with a client allows us to answer questions as they arise..
Bunker measurement training onsite with a client allows us to answer questions as they arise..

The tools embedded in our Stockpiles App, and the ease of use, gives clients and executives higher confidence in successfully completing a stockpile measurement, time after time, after time. This is enabling them to be even more productive while measuring piles, in smaller sites and also across a large enterprise.

Measure Using an Airplane

This is the easiest, fastest, and most complete way to measure the stockpiled materials at all your sites. Clients receive monthly measurements for the typical price of only one fly-over by other services. This also provides them an opportunity to review how a site changes over time, and make future planning easier.

Clients also receive the fastest results in the industry — online access to site and stockpile reports are available within hours after the flight. There is no action needed from clients other than tagging materials to the already outlined stockpiles online after the flight. Labor time from clients is reduced drastically— to as low as 20 minutes after an aerial flight.

Measure Your Bunkers

Measure bunkers and bins by iPhone or drone. Bunkers containing bulk materials can be located indoors, or outside. Material to be measured may be bounded by 1, 2, or 3 walls in bay areas of varying widths at a typical site.

Typical material stored in bunkers includes:

  • DOT Approved Salt and Sand
  • Recycling- Utilized in the Scrap Metal Industry
  • Aggregates such as Gravel
  • Landscaping/ Nursery Mulches
  • Animal Food
  • Granular Fertilizer- Urea, Ash
  • Livestock Manure Storage
  • Scrap Metal storage
  • Grain

Measure Using Your Drone

UAVs are now playing an increasing role in company’s strategy for providing rapid-turn production and inventory measurements.

Our clients can process drone imagery using our platform. You fly it, we’ll process the imagery. 

Need additional help, or have questions? Our engineering team has been working closely with drones and remotely piloted vehicles for nearly a decade. We’ve seen the ease of use and capabilities increase– while the size  and pricing has dropped dramatically during that time. We are experienced at piloting and operating various models and are also available for consultations. This includes helping you with flight patterns and camera angles.

StockpileReports.com is the only solution to enable enterprise inventory measurements of thousands of geographically disparate stockpiles in hours.  Our support for phones, drones, and planes provides your company the ability to develop a Stockpile Measurement Strategy to meet your business goals and improve your productivity.

How will you measure your stockpiles this year? It’s your choice. Contact us today for more information and ask us how we can help you meet your goals.

 

 

Our Exhibit at 2016’s AGG1 Academy and Expo in Nashville

The 2016 AGG1 Academy & Expo broke records for attendance, exhibit and education numbers, according to show organizers the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA). The event was held at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tenn., March 22-24, in conjunction with the World of Asphalt.

The sold-out show floor covered a record 157,000-plus net square feet of exhibit space – a 16-percent increase over the 2015 shows, with a record 500-plus exhibitors, including 150 new to the shows.Registered attendance of more than 9,000 beat the 2015 record set in Baltimore by 18 percent.

Stockpile Reports exhibited in 2015 as well as this year. We were so busy last year that we doubled the size of our booth in 2016, and are glad we did! We announced our new initiative to the press, “Project Acumen” with the industry’s only Verified Report results and Verified StampTM.

Verified Reports has added these features to our stockpile measurement reporting: New patent-pending Base and Surface Confidence Scores in stockpile measurement reports. The Base Confidence score quantifies how much of the stockpile toe was visible during the measurement process. The Surface Confidence score quantifies how much of the pile’s surface was visible during the measurement process. Every score’s result is derived using algorithms that compute visibility issues related to obstructions, including vegetation, stackers, machinery, debris, water, material from neighboring piles, and more.

David Boardman, our CEO, gave a presentation titled ‘Transforming Big Data into Big Results’ about advances in technology, drones and large-scale image capture to attendees. Mark Crain of Lane Construction was his guest.

Downtown Nashville as the sun begins to set.
An early arrival to attend Pit and Quarry’s 2016 Hall of Fame Induction.
AGG1-presentation
Mark Crain and David Boardman talk about how Big Data is transforming how business gets accomplished for aggregates producers.
AGG1nightlife
Busy nightlife activity with live music in Nashville. Phil Vassar headlined the NSSGA opening celebration, sponsored by Aggregates Manager.
BBQ and Museums in Nashville
Nashville has become a hub for pop, rock, bluegrass, Americana, jazz, classical, contemporary Christian, blues, and soul music. And don’t forget they also have LOTS of great BBQ.
AGG!booth1
A busy day at the Stockpile Reports booth. David and Galen are standing behind 3D printed models of stockpiles measured by our clients.
AGG1musiccenter
The Music City Center has 350,000 square feet of exhibit hall space, and is virtually column-free.
AGG1firstday
The booth has been open for 15 minutes, and attendees are beginning to visit us– and the other exhibits.
AGG1breakdown
Here’s what attendees don’t see– the booth being taken down, and the heavy machinery are driven out of the event space. It’s very noisy once the doors close.

Are Your Inventory Numbers Tracking to Your 2016 Plan?

How are your inventory numbers tracking to your 2016 plan? Q1 is almost over. Are you feeling confident?

Maybe you are assuming that this year will be “different”, and inventory numbers will come close to reconciling, without making changes in current stockpile measurement methods.

Stockpile inventory management is often a real source of ongoing frustration for the companies that have approached Stockpile Reports for help. We met with, and spoke with dozens of people about their challenges at the recent AGG1 conference in Nashville, Tennessee. They outlined many reasons for infrequent measurements.

CEO David Boardman discusses inventory challenges with booth visitors at 2016 AGG1 conference.
CEO David Boardman discusses inventory challenges with booth visitors at 2016 AGG1 conference.

Accessibility, safety, costs, schedules and competing priorities make it difficult for the quarry manager to measure stockpiles as often as the accounting department would prefer. We hear managers say, “Do they want me to make rock— or measure rock?”

The CFOs who spoke with us wants production levels to remain in alignment with 2016’s accounting plan. Accounting departments often struggle with various data entry sources from multiple people. Measurement information comes in from voice, email, paper and spreadsheets. Too often there are data error issues.

Is it unreasonable to want stockpile inventory tracking available on a real-time basis?

No. Our clients have discovered that utilizing a combination of iPhone and aerial (airplane or drone) imagery provides a complete solution. Mark Crain, of Lane Construction, gave a testimonial at AGG1 describing the company’s success using many sources of imagery for accurate perpetual inventory.

markcrain
Lane Construction’s Mark Crain speaks about success using iPhones, drones and airplanes for company-wide inventory management at AGG1.

The business benefits of using an iPhone and drone/airplane combination include:

  • Measuring with an iPhone is easy enough to use that anyone can measure stockpiles with minimal training, reducing outsourcing costs
  • Using an iPhone on the ground enables frequent spot-checks
  • Using aerial data by plane or drone provides ongoing quarterly, or monthly measurements
  • Aerial stockpile measurements provides material information for hard-to-reach, large, or dangerous stockpiles
  • Airplane flyovers are the fastest and easiest method to measure multiple sites across a wide geographical area
  • Stockpile Reports arranges flyovers and schedules them for your company
  • Stockpile Reports has the platform to process your data, regardless of aerial, drone or iPhone collection methods
  • Measurement results are automatically processed and available to corporate with no data entry
  • The measurement results meets the consistency and accuracy requirements of your company’s third-party requirements
  • iPhone and aerial measurement methods meet safety requirements
  • Competitive subscription pricing gives the company the freedom to measure year-round

Learn from what hasn’t worked before: don’t assume that this time things will be “different” when it comes to your monthly inventory results. Start now.  Make an action plan that will get you to your 2016 target. Contact us today for more information and ask about a demonstration— we can help.

 

 

 

Visit Us in Nashville at 2016 World of Asphalt and AGG1 Academy and Expo

NSG3422-AGG1-Music-City

NSSGA’s 2016 AGG1 Academy and Expo in Nashville is shaping up to be the biggest and most diverse aggregates-focused education program yet.

Nearly 60 sessions will cover everything from aggregates basics, like Crushing 101 and Screening 101, to deep-dive case studies of new processes and technologies. Experts from NSSGA member companies will share their knowledge of techniques and best practices to help industry peers operate more safely, efficiently and profitably.

David Boardman, CEO of Stockpile Reports will be presenting at the AGG1 Academy, Nashville NSSGA AGG1 logoWednesday March 23 in Room 106A from 2:00-3:30. The topic is “Transforming Big Data into Big Results“. He’s showing real-world case studies, and has an industry-respected guest client who will be speaking about his company’s transformation and success.

Accompanying the education sessions is NSSGA’s 2016 AGG1 Expo. Stockpile Reports will be exhibiting at AGG1 for our second year, in Booth 2851. We are very upbeat about attending. Our booth has doubled in size! We have some exciting news to share during this event as well, so stay tuned to this blog, or come visit us if you are attending. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, as we will be posting timely photos of the event all during the week.

This year’s Expo showcase has over 45,000 square feet of the latest in aggregates processing equipment, technologies and solutions. From drones to dredges and everything in between, attendees will get a sneak peek into the future of the industry. AGG1 is the go-to show for the aggregates industry, over 6,000 key decision makers from companies around the globe will be attending.

The digital version of the World of Asphalt 2016 Show and Conference Directory is available online. Stockpile Reports is in the inside back cover. http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NAPG/NAPG0016/index.php#/150

Skip the line at the booth! You may schedule a personal appointment during the event by email.

We look forward to seeing you in Nashville at the show!

 

 

It All Adds Up: World Coal Magazine

World Coal’s March magazine was published this week, with an article from Stockpile Reports that states World Coal Magazine Articlethe case for more frequent physical inventory counts as the best way to control inventory swings.

Companies in the mining, construction, and aggregate industries strive to achieve and maintain an inventory +/-5%. However, the actual variation might realistically skew over/under in the range of 20 – 30% vs actual. For national or global companies with multiple sites and locations, any variation could easily multiply into the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars.

Unlike retailers and manufacturing companies, which perform physical inventory counts once or twice a year, materials companies must perform more frequent counts to reduce errors that build up over time. Historically, companies have performed annual inventory counts with quarterly or monthly estimates to help manage write-off risk. Some companies have now advanced to twice-yearly, or even quarterly counts.

The article has a brief overview of technological advances in photogrammetry, Software as a Service (Saas), and drones.

A case study includes information about a multinational materials company that manufactures and distributes cement, ready-mix concrete, aggregates and materials including coal, recently approached Stockpile Reports searching for a solution to reduce time and costs associated with inventory measurements across multiple sites.

Read the online article here:

Note: This article first appeared in the printed March issue of World Coal.

 

 

Conference Presentation and Training Consultations

Presentation at RMACES show in Colorado
Maury during his presentation at the conference, and show off his new tape meausre.

The last week of February was another busy week! The Stockpile Reports team was on the road traveling again. Meeting our clients in person is always fun, and productive. We share what we know while training and presenting at regional events.

Rocky Mountain Asphalt Conference and Equipment Show

Maury was a featured speaker at the Rocky Mountain Asphalt Conference in Colorado. For over 40 years, contractors, suppliers, governmental agency representatives, and consultants from the Rocky Mountain West have held an annual conference in Colorado to discuss new developments and quality advancements of asphalt pavements. The Rocky Mountain Asphalt Conference & Equipment Show draws attendees from throughout the Rocky Mountain region. It is recognized as one of the largest regional conferences on asphalt pavement technology,

Maury enjoyed spending time with current customers, and also meeting new people throughout the conference. He even entered the raffle— and wouldn’t you know it, he won a tape measure! You know tape measures are prized possessions with the team, because we are always using one to correctly measure cone distances.

The Awards dinner at the Rocky Mountain Asphalt Conference & Equipment Show
The Awards dinner at the Rocky Mountain Asphalt Conference & Equipment Show

Training Consultations

While Maury was at the conference, Galen, Richard and Jaxson were training customers how to measure bunkers and stockpiled physical inventory with an iPhone and drone.  The weather at various locations ranged from 35 degrees with 30 MPH wind gusts to upper 60’s short-sleeved weather.

Training new customers allows us to see first-hand their challenges, and answer questions on-the-spot. It is definitely a hands-on opportunity, as we demonstrate step-by-step how to correctly set up, or “prep” as site prior to measurement, how to set up the cones, the best way to hold the iPhone, and walking paths.

Many clients are interested in learning how to measure their bunker inventory materials. We look at their various bunker configurations and assist them with walking paths specific to the type of bunker and pile that needs measuring.

Clients are learning how to measured materials stored in bunkers using an iPhone.
Clients are learning how to measured materials stored in bunkers using an iPhone.

Customers reap the benefits of training quickly. It shows when performing physical inventory counts on their own.

For example, 2015’s year-end physical inventory counts were completed in record time. 78 companies completed their year-end inventory in days, vs. weeks using Stockpile Reports. Details include:

  • 655 locations used an iPhone, drone, airplane, or a combination of data collection methods
  • 52% of all year-end physical inventory tonnage was collected by aerial (airplane and drone)
  • Over 765,000 images were processed for reports
  • 220% increase in material tonnage measured in 2015 by subscribers, vs 2014
Galen demonstrates how he 'walks the pile' while gathering image data via the iPhone camera.
Galen demonstrates how he ‘walks the pile’ while gathering image data via the iPhone camera.

 

 

Every Stockpile is Cash on the Ground. We Train to Prevent Write-Offs.

We know stockpiles. In fact, our subscribers successfully measured well over 20,000 stockpiles in 2015 using an iPhone® device, by airplane or by drone. Our measurement platform is currently being used by over 120 companies, in 18 countries, to manage almost $3 billion dollars in inventory! That’s a lot of cash.

We also know that every stockpile is different. We listen carefully when clients tell us about their stockpile measurement challenges. There are so many variables involved: material types, geography, local and seasonal weather, on-site traffic, vegetation, pile accessibility, indoor or bunker placement, lighting conditions, wind, safety concerns and density variations, for example.

The Benefit of Training

Many of our subscribers request on-location training from us. They not only receive personalized coaching, but we get the opportunity to view for ourselves what challenges are on-site. Our team has personally assisted with measuring thousands of stockpiles.

That may seem tedious and dull to some people, but here’s our secret: we LOVE training new users on how to save money, and prevent or reduce write-offs!

We enjoy coaching them on how to perform monthly physical inventory counts, utilizing a mix of measurement technologies. We instruct on data collection techniques, how to successfully prepare a site for inventory measurements, when it is most appropriate to utilize a particular technology (such as a drone vs. iPhone) and also how Stockpile Reports assists with disputed report results.

Here are a few recent images from training sessions around the US. If you are interested in having our team help you minimize write-offs via more frequent inventory counts, don’t hesitate to contact us. 

Photo of group training using an iPhone.
Here’s a good example of how stockpiles come in many different materials, shapes and sizes. These are mulch piles.
Classroom-style training at the client, and hands-on practice outdoors.
Classroom-style training by Galen, reviewing bunker measurement results.  A training session with hands-on practice outdoors.
Image of snowy stockpile
Stockpiles can be accurately measured when covered with light snow. We also give advice on keeping electronic devices operational in freezing temperatures.
Image of pile with truck clearing away vegetation. You don't want weeds covering your 'cash on the ground', or interfering with measurement accuracy.
Preparing your site for inventory measurement is very important. Keep the vegetation away from your stockpiles. You don’t want weeds covering your ‘cash on the ground’, or interfering with measurement accuracy.

 

 

 

On the Floor at World of Concrete 2016

World of Concrete 2015 attracted more than 55,000 professional registrants and showcased just over 1,400 leading suppliers. Nearly 56,000 construction pros were pre-registered for the 2016 event, with almost 1,500 exhibitors filling more than 675,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space. At the final tally, there were almost 60,000 attendees to the Las Vegas Convention Center.

World of Concrete is the only international trades show dedicated to the commercial concrete and masonry industries in 2016. It featured innovations and expert know-how from more exhibitors than the 2015 edition of the event. The show floor was close to 750,000 net square feet, the largest in seven years.

There were many people in attendance  from other countries, with the largest contingent traveling in from Canada, as well as a strong showing from South America.

This year was Stockpile Reports’ first exhibition in Las Vegas, and we can attest that the attendance was strong. We had hundreds of visitors to our booth during the week. Stockpile Reports formally announced our bin and bunker measurement capability via either an iPhone or drone Tuesday morning, immediately after the show opened, with a press announcement and press conference.

The Stockpile Reports team welcomed the opportunity to meet new, and current clients at the show. There were also many networking events after the exhibition halls closed at 5PM.

We look forward attending and exhibiting again at World of Concrete 2017, from January 17-20 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Our team will  be wearing big smiles and comfortable shoes!

Stockpile Reports arrives in Las Vegas!
Stockpile Reports arrives in Las Vegas!
The World of Concrete Show opens with blue skies and a Press Conference.
The World of Concrete Show opens with blue skies and a Press Conference.
David Boardman, CEO talks about bunker measurements using a drone. Meanwhile, attendees were also visiting outside exhibits.
David Boardman, CEO talks about bunker measurements using a drone. Meanwhile, attendees were also visiting outside exhibits.
The team is glad to sit down after a busy day at the booth.
The team is glad to sit down after a busy day at the booth.
Almost 60,000 attendees came to Las Vegas for the event.
Almost 60,000 attendees came to Las Vegas for the event.
We decided to model the Elvis statue in the lobby at the Westgate Hotel in 3D. Click here to view it.
We decided to model the Elvis statue  in the lobby at the Westgate Hotel in 3D using our iPhone. Click here to view it.
Reviewing events and new opportunities for 2016 helps us think about creative solutions that meet more client needs.
Reviewing upcoming events and new opportunities for 2016 helps us think about creative marketing solutions.
After the show there were many opportunities to make new connections.
After the show there were many opportunities to make new connections.

 

 

 

Join Stockpile Reports at World of Concrete 2016

Accurately and consistently measure material stored in bunkers with iPhones and Drones.Are you planning to attend World of Concrete 2016 next week in Las Vegas? If so, don’t forget to stop by Booth N3247. Stockpile Reports will be formally announcing advanced support for stockpiled material stored in bins and bunkers, with a demonstration of the process and report results.

Reserve time Tuesday, February 2nd at 10:00 AM and visit us during our Press Announcement.  CEO David Boardman will be available to meet you, and show real-world examples of how our customers are accurately and consistently measuring bunkered material using iPhones and Drones.

You may also schedule a personal appointment anytime during the World of Concrete show to view our stockpile inventory management solution. Just ask us by email. 

About World of Concrete

WOC will  feature special product and action areas, including The Producer Center, a marketplace of materials, equipment, demos, and seminars for concrete producers; Material Handling, offering trucks, excavators and more for material delivery, distribution, concrete placement, and earth moving; Concrete Repair & Demolition, housing a display of surface preparation equipment, scarifying, grinding, sawing equipment, and other demolition products; World of Masonry, showcasing products, tools, information, and technology for masonry professionals; and Technology for Construction, featuring the newest products and tools for the commercial construction industry from top information technology and systems providers.

This industry-leading event features:
55,000+
concrete and masonry professionals
1,400+leading suppliers
100+
specialized seminars and interactive workshops
70+
teaching pros from around the world

Stockpile Reports looks forward to seeing you at the show!

World of Concrete Logo

 

 

 

 

 

How a Client is Solving Write-Offs, Via Technology and Frequent Physical Inventory Counts

A multinational materials company that manufactures and distributes cement, ready-mix concrete, aggregates and materials including coal, recently approached Stockpile Reports. They were searching for a solution to reduce write-offs, time, and costs associated with inventory measurements across multiple sites.

Technological advances are now shrinking the time needed to perform company-wide physical inventory counts from 3-5 weeks down to 3-5 days. Measurement methods include the iPhone, drone, and airplane.
Technological advances are now shrinking the time needed to perform company-wide physical inventory counts from 3-5 weeks down to 3-5 days. Measurement methods include the iPhone, drone, and airplane.

The materials company had been performing inventory counts on multiple sites and regions. They’d hired an expensive third party survey team, who’d utilized a truck-mounted laser for measurements. Using a truck-mounted laser was accurate, but the costs associated with the surveys only allowed for physical inventory measurements to be performed once yearly.

During the rest of the year, team members kept a perpetual inventory by performing self-reported monthly estimates of material on hand. They estimated these amounts monthly, and sent the totals to the Finance Department.

As a result of not using current, accurate measurement data, the company had been experiencing major write-offs every year. This also corresponded with large financial swings.

Stockpile Reports was engaged to perform monthly physical inventory counts, utilizing a mix of measurement technologies. These included using iPhones, drones and planes. It was determined that using a combination of collection methods was the most appropriate solution. The location of material’s company sites are wide-spread across multiple states in the US. Each site also varied in material types, safety, stockpile placements and stockpile sizes.

The Solution for Write-Offs

Since the materials company has a company drone, a portion of one location is now measured monthly via drone for tall coal piles. This is in a high-traffic area, making it unsafe for ground measurements.

Bunkered material and smaller stockpiles are measured monthly with iPhones using internal labor. This is to spot-check incoming deliveries, and also ensure that outgoing deliveries meet production expectations.

A physical inventory count is conducted quarterly at all locations on the same day if weather permits, using Stockpile Reports’ flyover service. This is providing a running perpetual inventory for the company.

The Savings

The client recognized immediate costs-savings. There is no third-party labor needed to implement Stockpile Reports’ solution. The time-savings enables the company to perform company-wide measurements regularly. For example, the average time required using internal labor and Stockpile Reports’ flyover service was only 20 minutes per each site. Internal labor used for piloting a drone for site measurements averaged about 45 minutes per site. The average measurement by iPhone was 3-5 minutes per stockpile and bunker.

The materials company has successfully accelerated physical inventory counts, and are now performing monthly measurements. Measuring often, regularly, and accurately is the key to inventory control. They are making data-driven material handling decisions, and are greatly reducing financial write offs.

This blog post is a continuation of  “The Case for More Frequent Physical Inventory Counts” and last week’s entry “Controlling Swings in Inventory with New Technologies.

We are always happy to share our success stories. Contact us for more details about how we can assist your company and reduce write-offs.