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.

 

 

 

Weather Your Seasonal Measurements

rainysite

This time of year is shoulder season, when temps and weather conditions are extremely changeable. Rain, wind, snow, sleet, storms, sunshine, dust, fog, heat and hail happen!

It doesn’t matter what is happening outside, though. Companies throughout the world still need to track inventory. Our clients in Europe, North America, South America, Australia and South Africa all share the same inventory challenges, despite how different the weather is at those locations.

Frequency, Safety, Efficiency

Make a measurement plan and be prepared for the weather.rainbow

Monthly: Utilize aerial measurements for site-wide inventory purposes each month.

Keep your boots off the ground. Measuring a site, or multiple sites, by plane is the fastest and safest method to gather data of all uncovered stockpiles. Here is how easy and fast the process is:

Step One: Client requests an aerial flight.
Step Two: Client tags the piles with material.
Step Three: Client view the results online.

Our customers typically spend 20 minutes of internal labor time per flight.

Online access to site and stockpile reports are available within hours after the flight. There is no action needed from clients other than tagging the outlined stockpiles online after the flight.

Daily: Go outside and make spot-checks onsite during operations. Simply use the iPhone in your measurement mix.

It only takes minutes for one of your team to measure an individual stockpile. You can also use the iPhone for inside and outside bunker measurements. If you’ve got a break in the weather, go outside and measure. There’s no need to wait for a third party to arrive and pay them to do the measurements.

Complement your ground-based imagery by drone. If you’ve got one and are certified to fly it, go for it! This might be a great solution if you have a few hours available to measure a smaller site, or very large stockpiles. Upload the data to us and we will process it and provide reporting.

The Best of Ground and Air

Whatever method you choose for measuring the piles on your site(s), the report results will be ready online in hours.

Your quarry will have the information needed to make operational business decisions on a weekly or monthly basis, and the CFO will have the numbers to manage inventory.

Difficult Bunker Measurements— Debunked

Customers make the best of the tools they have, to measure their stockpiles. Many don’t have access to, or regularly use, third-party surveyors. Some customers utilize the walking wheel or make estimations based on truckload or barge sizes. We’ve also heard of the thumb method, and unfortunately the WAG method (‘Wild A** Guess’).

a 2-sided bunker configuration, where the pile is touching both sides of bunker, and does not overflow the containing walls.
A typical 2-sided bunker configuration, where the pile is touching both sides of bunker, and does not overflow the containing walls.

A big source of frustration for customers is trying to figure out how to get the volume of material stored in bunkers.

Bunkers are constructed out of varying materials: from precast walls, concrete blocks, Jersey Barriers, T or L shaped barrier walls, Ontario tall walls, and Bremer walls, for example.

Bunker shapes and sizes are unique— similar to free-standing stockpiles. Often the bunkers are piled high, bunkers can be very long or wide, some are located inside a structure, and most bunkers have either 1, 2 or 3-sides.

When our customers told us that it is difficult to measure bunkered material, we began to ponder the problem. We put our engineers and team members on-site, examining various bunker configurations.

The engineering team meets with a client to discuss bunker challenges and configurations.
The engineering team meets with a client to discuss bunker challenges and configurations.

We worked on various ideas, tested, and retested them until the ideas became solutions.

Stockpile Reports is proud to offer bunker measurements in 1, 2 and 3-wall configurations, via our Stockpiles app for the iPhone. Our subscribers now have the ability to quickly measure bunkers without any special equipment, simply by using an iPhone, 2 construction cones and long measuring tape. It isn’t difficult at all, and bunker measurements can be conducted in minutes.

After bunker data is uploaded, the resulting stockpile reports are completed in under 24-hours. Subscribers may then login and access the results. There is no additional fee for the bunker reporting.

Typical Material stored in bunkers include:

A stockpiles is contained inside this bunker. Material is well-lit and stacked against the back wall.
A stockpile is contained inside this bunker. The material is well-lit and stacked against the back wall.

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, and other commodities
Livestock Manure Storage
Scrap Metal storage
Grain
Silage

Click here for more information and a sample bunker measurement result.

Get the Stockpile Reports service and receive your own customized reports. Simply contact us to get more information.

A Successful AGG1 Exhibit

The team at Stockpile Reports had a great time ‘working the booth’ during last week’s Aggregates Academy & Expo and World of Asphalt Shows in Baltimore, Maryland. AGG1 Academy & Expo is owned by the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA).

This year’s event featured industry-focused educational programming and exhibits showcasing new technologies and innovations in equipment, products and services. So, of course we were there!

This year’s convention was the most successful to date with more than 7,500 attendees from 50 countries, 10,000 educational session tickets purchased, and 135,000 square feet of space taken by 450 exhibitors.

In addition to making new contacts, the team in Stockpile Reports’ booth used this opportunity to strengthen existing relationships with customers and announce our new monthly aerial subscription offering. Thanks to everyone who stopped by our booth! We’ve already signed up for the 2016 show in Nashville.

Baltimore rolled out the welcome mat for the conference, with signage at the convention center and through-out the cite.
Baltimore rolled out the welcome mat for the conference, with signage at the convention center and through-out the city.
Setting up the booth before the show opened. This was a great time to meet our neighboring exhibitors and learn about their offerings.
Setting up the booth before the show opened. This was a great time to meet our neighboring exhibitors and learn about their offerings.
There was some impressive machinery for view on AGG1's exhibition floor!
There was some impressive machinery for view on the exhibition floor!
Leaders from five road and bridge building-related trade associations held a rally for World of Apshalt and AGG1 attendees pushing for more support and activism for a long-term highway funding bill.
Leaders from five road and bridge building-related trade associations held a rally for World of Apshalt and AGG1 attendees pushing for more support and activism for a long-term highway funding bill.
Baltimore's Inner Harbor. The waterfront has been transformed with award-winning parks and plazas surrounded by office buildings, hotels and leisure attractions,
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The waterfront has been transformed with award-winning parks and plazas surrounded by office buildings, hotels and leisure attractions.
Stockpile Reports' booth was busy from when the exhibition opened until the floor closed. Our team demonstrated our stockpile measurement service and reporting.
Stockpile Reports’ booth was busy from when the exhibition opened until the floor closed. Our team demonstrated our stockpile measurement service and reporting.
Thank you to our visitors, we'll be back for AGG1's 2016 event in Nashville.
Our CEO was interviewed on Day 2 by World of Asphalt’s TV team. We’ll be returning to exhibit in AGG1’s 2016 event in Nashville.

Preparing for the AGG1 Expo

Stockpile Reports will be exhibiting next week, March 17-19, at this year’s AGG1 2015 Expo in Baltimore, Maryland. We’ll be in Booth #1288. AGG1 2015 Exhibitor Logo

The AGG1 exposition features a wide range of aggregate-related equipment, products and services, with exhibits that incorporate demonstrations and technology.

Of course, we are very excited to be part of this event! Although we are relative new-comers to the aggregate-related services scene, Stockpile Reports has been working with, and following, many of the companies that are also exhibiting. More than 400 exhibitors combined have already signed on at the event, taking more than 128,000 net square feet of exhibit space at World of Asphalt and AGG1. That’s a LOT of technology and expertise, all in one place. This will be a great opportunity to network with industry experts, visit colleagues and explore new technologies.

Agg1 2013 photo
Photo taken from the floor of Agg1 2013 event. Click on photo to view other images from Agg1 and World of Asphalt 2013.

Here is the current exhibitor list and where the Stockpile Reports Booth #1288 is located in the Exhibit Hall. We will be updating our Facebook and Twitter pages, also posting AGG1 photos  during the week. If you aren’t going to be in Baltimore but want to virtually be there, make sure you follow us. And if you are in Baltimore, please stop by our booth and say hello.

Where will we be next? Here’s a listing of events where you will be able to find Stockpile Reports.

Trimble Dimensions 2014

Stockpile Reports traveled to Las Vegas this week for the Trimble Dimensions 2014 international event as an attendee and as a presenter. The conference facilitated attendees to network with industry colleagues and also discover new developments in technology.

Our presentation was held Tuesday afternoon by David Boardman, our CEO: 5,000 Stockpile Measurements from the Field to the CFO in 24 hours – with an iPhone. His presentation touched on how reality indexing will help solve major business challenges on and offsite. The discussion and demonstration covered current 3D computer generation, customer-use cases, and solving inventory measurement challenges in the construction, mining and aggregates industry. Pit & Quarry Magazine was in attendance during the entire Trimble event. They were there for David’s presentation and published an overview online.

There were several sessions held daily for three days at the Mirage Hotel and Conference Center, with many companies showcasing their products on the exhibition floor. When the sessions were done during the day, the networking officially began at night!

Welcome to Trimble Dimensions 2014!
Welcome to Trimble Dimensions 2014!
A full house, waiting for the Keynote presentation Monday morning.
A full house, waiting for the Keynote presentation Monday morning.
Photo of Keynote speaker Greg 'Boss' Wooldridge
Keynote speaker Greg ‘Boss’ Wooldridge,
former Commanding Officer of the Blue Angels talks about the need for high performance and effective leadership.
photo of truck at Trimble Dimensions
From the exhibition floor.
Photo of lunch attendees.
Breakout time for lunch before the afternoon sessions begin.

boat

photo of attendees at Trimble Dimensions
Networking with attendees from all around the world.
Photo of reception
Monday night’s Pavilion Reception– terrific entertainment, food and a chance to mingle.
Entertainment and impersonators kept the party rockin'!
Entertainment and impersonators kept the party rockin’ Monday night!
A view from the airport. The conference adjourns following the Gala Dinner Wednesday evening.
A view from the airport. The conference adjourns following the Gala Dinner Wednesday evening.

5000 iPhone Measurement Milestone

Congratulations to our customers! They’ve reached a new milestone– customers from 9 countries have measured over 5000 stockpiles using our patent-pending Stockpiles App on an iPhone! The combined weight of iPhone stockpile volume measurements adds up to 25,947,846 tons.

Have you considered how easy and cost-effective it would be to measure your stockpiles with an iPhone?  Contact us to find out how your business can benefit from our service today. You may even qualify for a no-cost trial of our service. Just fill out the form on the page and let us know you are interested.

Image of 5000 stockpiles measured by iPhone

 

Training and Traveling in Australia

What do you do when you only have 10 days to visit in Australia? Get to know our clients better, meet new customers and visit new places, of course!

This was Galen’s second visit to Australia, and the timing for this was perfect. It is Spring, and companies are measuring stockpile inventory to prepare for a busy Spring and Summer. Temps during the visit were already in the 90’s and sometimes quite humid, as shown in the cloudy photos on this post.

Galen had the opportunity to train new users on the Stockpile Reports system, using the iPhone and the Walking Wheel. He also met with management and accounting team offices to reviewing the resulting volume measurement data and demonstrate our online monthly inventory reconciliation. The management team loved the reconcile features and capabilities, especially from an auditing perspective. 

One of the first stops made was to our Australian authorized reseller, UPG. Galen and the UPG team finalized UAV planning and deployment for pile and site inventory using an eBee drone.

One of the many highlights of the trip was visiting the largest aggregates provider in Australia, who is deploying our solution. Being there enabled Galen to train new and more experienced users both basic and advanced iPhone measurement techniques on a challenging stockpiles.

We look forward to visiting Australia again in December– it is a beautiful country with friendly people.

Stockpile Reports’ benefits add up to better decision-making, faster inventory turns and lower operating expenses. Contact us today about more information for trying our service. If you are located in Australia, contact our local reseller UPG.

Basic iPhone training on how to hold the iPhone, walking smoothly, and keeping the pile's toe and top in view.
Basic iPhone training on how to hold the iPhone, on walking smoothly, and reminders to keep the pile’s toe and top in view.
Watching the eBee fly, and a flying regular visitor at the scale house.
On the left: watching the eBee fly. On the right: a flying regular visitor at the scale house.
Taking some walking wheel measurements for comparison to the iPhone collection data.
Taking some walking wheel measurements for comparison to the iPhone collection data.
Lunchtime at a pub, great Wifi access there, too.
Dinnertime at a pub, great Wifi access there, too.
Demonstrating how to measure tightly spaced stockpiles. Notice how clean the sites are.
Demonstrating how to measure tightly spaced stockpiles. Notice how clean the sites are.
Beautiful weather, but temps reached low 90's and was quite humid later on in the afternoon.
Beautiful weather, but temps reached low 90’s and was quite humid later in the afternoon.
Here is a shot from the ferry terminal looking towards downtown Brisbane.
Here is a shot from the ferry terminal looking towards downtown Brisbane.
Long days traveling in the car-- no kangaroos spotted during the trip. On right: Story Bridge, an early evening photo.
Long days traveling in the car– no kangaroos spotted during the trip. On right: Story Bridge, an early evening photo.
A view from the top of Castle Hill which looks down on the coastal side of Townsville. One of the last days visiting. Australia is a beautiful country.
A view from the top of Castle Hill which looks down on the coastal side of Townsville. One of the last days visiting.

 

Training and Travel for Clients

The Stockpile Reports team is on the move this week! We’ll be testing our patience in the world of airports, connecting flights and reclining seats before arriving to meet customers in person.Hawaii and Australia Map

Members of our Support team will be traveling to Hawaii, Wyoming, Wisconsin and Australia to meet with clients on-site and at their desks. We’ll be training teams on beginner measurements using an iPhone,  then onto advanced tips and techniques using the patent-pending Stockpiles App.

As the US moves into the Fall season, it is now Spring in Australia. Although mining remains highly competitive in Australia, there are other major industries that measure stockpiles. Thousands of quarries produce concrete aggregates, asphalt and sealing aggregates, crushed rock, sands and gravels, pavement materials and base and sub-base for road, civil and site works.

The Master Builders of Australia have forecasted growth in construction. After growth estimated at 6.4 per cent in 2013-14, the value of residential building work may grow by a further 30 per cent over the forecast period, from $51 billion in 2013-14 to $68 billion in 2016-17.

You might be surprised to learn that Hawaii has a number of quarries, too. Quarry sand and gravel supports Hawaii construction. The construction sector in Hawaii is expected to be one of the main engines for economic growth in 2014 and 2015.

Make sure you follow Stockpile Reports on Facebook and Twitter—we’ll be posting photos from our various site visits every day.

Information about Crushed Stone Production

Crushed stone, one of the most accessible natural resources, is a major basic raw material used by construction, agriculture, and other industries that utilize complex chemical and metallurgical processes. The crushed stone industry is a major contributor to and an indicator of the economic well-being of the US.

Here’s an infographic illustrating top state production and yearly consumption data based on USGS surveys.

Infographic about Crushed Rock
The USGS Department has provided excellent information about crushed stone production in the United States from 2009-2014. Infographic is based on http://minerals.er.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/stone_crushed/mcs-2014-stonc.pdf