We Tested the New Mavic 2 Pro. A Great Drone But…

Updated November 26th, 2018

The long awaited update to DJI’s popular Mavic series drones have finally arrived. On August 23rd, DJI announced two new version of the Mavic: the Mavic 2 Pro and the Mavic 2 Zoom. DJI managed to make large improvements with the camera, battery life, and obstacle sensing capabilities. Within days, our clients were calling and emailing us asking if we were going to support the new drones. We got our hands on the Mavic 2 Pro and put it through our extensive tests. Before you read on, we believe the Mavic 2 Pro is a great drone but has one big deal breaker that prevents us from supporting the drone for the time being. Continue on to find out more about…

Mavic 2 Unboxing

The Specs – What is Different?

Owners of the Mavic Pro and Platinum will be greeted by a familiar drone. The appearance between the Mavic Pro and Mavic 2 Pro has not changed much. The new Hasselblad camera is noticeably larger and the color of grey is slightly different. However, under the hood, almost every aspect of the drone has been improved.

Let’s start with the biggest change to the Mavic, the Hasselblad 20 Megapixel 10-Bit camera with a 1″ CMOS sensor. The increased resolution from 12 to 20 megapixels is a huge improvement for mapping piles with low texture such as frac sand and petcoke. The larger 1″ CMOS sensor increases the amount of light the camera records by a factor of four as compared to the old Mavic Pro. This translates into better imagery on dark, cloudy days and flights close to dawn or sunset. The 10-bit color profile greatly increases the variation in color that is captured which leads to colorful site-wide maps.

The battery capacity has been slightly increased as compared to the Mavic Platinum adding an extra minute of flight time for a total of 31 minutes. However, owners of the Mavic Pro have a 27-minute flight time and the extra 4 minutes may mean the difference between mapping a complete site using one battery or having to swap out an extra batter mid mission. We would have liked to have seen a longer flight time, but considering the small form factor, 31 minutes is still a great number.

Mavic 2 Pro Folded Up

A majority of mapping occurs well above any obstacles on site. However, our clients tend to use their drones for more than mapping. A large risk our users face is flying a drone with anti-collision sensors only facing forward and downward. One of the main reasons we recommend the Phantom 4 Pro is the addition to side and rearward anti-collision sensors. DJI took the Mavic 2 series a step further and added top facing sensors giving the drone an omni directional sense and avoid system. This is a big deal to our DOT clients who may want to fly underneath bridges for inspection or a cement producer who wants to capture indoor footage without any hesitations of hitting a ceiling.

DJI managed to pack numerous other improvements into the new Mavic 2 Pro which can be discovered on the DJI website. As compared to the Phantom 4 Pro, on paper the two drones are similar. The price also reflects this fact. The addition we would have liked to see is a global shutter which removes rolling shutter distortion from the imagery when the drone is capturing photos. Thankfully, we are able to correct for this factor with our robust image processing algorithms.

The Field Test

We were eager to test out the new camera that DJI and Hasselblad had collaborated on. On paper, the Mavic 2 Pro looks like a direct competitor to the Phantom 4 Pro. We tested the Mavic 2 Pro at a local quarry in the Seattle area and decided to evaluate the drone on specific criteria:

  • Ease of Setup
  • Manual Flight
  • Automated Mapping
  • Image Quality

Here is what we discovered…

Ease of Setup

At Stockpile Reports, we train all of our clients to use the Phantom 4 series. We have chosen this drone series based on quality of imagery, ease of use, and price. We decided to compare the setup experience of the Mavic 2 Pro against the Phantom 4 Pro since this is the drone that a majority of our clients are using.

We want to start off with the issue of portability. While many clients have asked us about the Mavic series drones in the past because of increased portability, we did not find that the reduction in size made much impact on the ease of transporting the drone. Yes, the drone does fit in a backpack, but a majority of our clients using our service keep the drone in their office or truck. The ability to fit the drone in a small bag has never been an issue. We are also disappointed the Mavic 2 Pro does not come with a carrying case. At $1,449 we would have expected a foam carrying case similar to the one provided with the Phantom 4 line.

Photo Credit: Michael Weldon Photography

The fact that the Mavic 2 Pro is designed to be as compact as possible has made the pre-flight set up a bit more lengthy. DJI matched the portability of the Mavic Air remote by adding removable control sticks to the remote. Screwing in the control sticks each flight seems unnecessary and time consuming. We recommend finding a carrying case that can hold the remote with the control sticks pre-installed. We were surprised that an iPad Mini 4 fits perfectly snug into the remote, however, having the iPad below our hand level seemed cumbersome and out of place. Using an iPhone is a better experience with the small remote. An iPhone also has the benefit of fitting the out of the box connector wire that is threaded through the phone/tablet mount. An iPad still requires using a standard length lightning connector.

A benefit of using the Mavic 2 Pro is that the propellers can easily be stored on the pre-attached to drone when not in use. In this respect the Mavic wins on the ease of setup. We did however find that the lack of landing skids meant we needed a landing pad or a very flat patch of ground. The Phantom can be taken off with more uneven terrain under the drone.

Overall, the ease of setup does not greatly differ from our experience with the Phantom 4 Pro. We suggest finding a carrying case where the propellers can be stored directly on the drone and the control sticks do not have to be removed from the remote control.

Manual Flight

A majority of flight using Stockpile Reports is performed using automated flight modes. However, drones are useful tools for taking photos and videos of locations that a human cannot safely access. Many of our clients use their drones for other purposes than inventory measuring. We decided to test how the Mavic 2 Pro flew manually around the test site for our clients who are using their drones beyond mapping.

The flight characteristics of the new Mavic 2 Pro closely resemble the old Mavic Pro and Platinum series. The top speed has been increased from 40 mph to 45 mph. Although this is faster, we didn’t notice a large difference at top speed. Perhaps this is because we spend very little time cruising at 45 mph. However, we are big fans of the Tri-Pod mode switch on the side of the remote which slows down the movements of the drone and allows for smoother cinematic shots. This is convenient for users who want to get cinematic shots of a quarry or inch a drone close up to machinery for inspection.

Photo Credit: Michael Weldon Photography

We were also excited to test the new omni-directional obstacle avoidance system. DJI does not disappoint with the new system and we were unable to fly the drone into a tree from any direction. This is a big plus when attempting to fly the drone indoors or under tree canopy. The Mavic also did a great job of following a truck around on site using the improved Active Track mode which allows the drone to fly at greater speeds while simultaneously tracking an object.

Overall, the enhancements to the collision avoidance and the easily accessible trip-pod mode switch makes for a better flight experience as scompared to the Mavic Pro. However, most of our users will not notice much difference with the manual flight experience.

Automated Mapping

We watched DJI’s live Mavic 2 series unveiling event with hopes that we would be introduced to the next generation of mapping drones. One of DJI’s best features how well their drones interact with 3rd party mapping applications. Our hopes of using the Mavic 2 Pro for mapping were evaporated when we dicovered that no mapping software packages supported the Mavic 2 Pro. This was a deal breaker at the time.

Photo Credit: Michael Weldon Photography

Fast forward 2 weeks later and Map Pilot for DJI officially announced support for the Mavic 2 Series. Fortunately, this is one of our supported mapping software packages. We quickly discovered that the Mavic 2 Pro’s camera is 28 mm vs the Phantom 4 Pro’s 24 mm camera. This means the field of view on the Mavic is about 7 degrees narrower than the phantom. What does this mean in mapping terms? More photos! For example, a 50 acre site can be mapped with approximately 170 photos using the Phantom 4 Pro and the same site will take 205 images with the Mavic 2 Pro. This equals more data and longer flight times. This can be a deal breaker for our clients with larger sites.

The actual mapping experience worked as expected. The drone took off on its own, took photos at the predifined overlaps settings, and landed back at the launch point. Not much else here to report other than we would like to see support for additional mapping software packages such as DJI Ground Station Pro. Over time we do expect wider support of the Mavic 2 series, however, at the time of posting you will need to use Map Pilot for DJI.

Image Quality

DJI’s biggest selling point for the new Mavic 2 Pro is their new 20 mp Hasselblad camera. The sensor has been expanded from 1/2.3″ to a 1″ sensor which greatly increases the amount of light the camera captures. This is crucial for getting sufficient imagery on dark cloudy days and mapping materials that are dark in nature such as coal. For the first time, the Mavic series is competing on the same level as the Phantom 4. We tested out several different capture modes and did find that the expanded color range and larger sensor gave us some exceptional results with landscape and mapping shots. We shared a panoramic of Mt. Rainier and a small image stitch of one of our test sites to below.

Panoramic Photo of Mt Rainier Captured by the Mavic 2 Pro

We were disappointed to find that the camera has a linear rolling shutter which means each photo has a small amount of image blur while capturing photos during a mapping flight. The Phantom 4 series clearly wins the mapping imagery quality showdown due to the global shutter which eliminates the rolling shutter effect and takes a clearer image as the camera is moving and capturing photos.

Multiple image site wide stitched photo from The Mavic 2 Pro

The Deal Breaker

Closer inspection of the photos’ EXIF data from The Mavic 2 Pro shows that there is a major issue recording elevation data. We tested the Mavic 2 Pro at 200 feet AGL but the recorded elevation data was 4,114 feet on average. We confirmed with issues with several other flights. The elevation varied between a couple miles above ground to several hundred miles above ground. We found several other user reporting the same issue and DJI has acknowledged that there is a bug causing the incorrect altitude data.

Conclusion

The new Mavic 2 Pro is undeniably a huge step up from the Mavic Pro and Platinum line. We were excited to see the large leap in camera specs and a slightly longer flight time all in the same small form factor as the original Mavic series. We did not find the decrease in size to be much of a factor as compared to the Phantom 4 Pro though since we rarely have the need to fit the drone is a small bag such a backpack.

Drone pilots looking to upgrade their Mavic Pro or Platinum for non-mapping use, we highly suggest the Mavic 2 Pro. If you already own a Phantom 4 Pro, we suggest holding off until a new update to the Phantom series is released. The differences between the Mavic 2 Pro and Phantom 4 Pro are minimal.

Officially Stockpile Reports cannot support the Mavic 2 Pro until the altitude issue is fixed. DJI has reported they plan to fix the issue in an upcoming Firmware update. However, there has not been any updates since our field tests. Also, we plan to hold off supporting the Mavic 2 Pro until additional 3rd party mapping software becomes compatible. Stay tuned for future updates!

Update – November 26th, 2018: DJI has updated their firmware to fix the GPS issues. DJI and Maps Made Easy also updated their automated mapping software packages to support the Mavic 2 Series. We have thoroughly tested the Mavic 2 Pro on the updated software.  We are excited to announce that we officically support the Mavic 2 Pro.

Data, Not Distractions

The construction, agricultural, transportation and mining industries have welcomed the idea of using a drone for multiple business applications. Image of iPhone, drone, airplane data collection methods.

Stockpile Reports has been to several conferences and events during the recent months, and have noticed how many new drone exhibitors are appearing. In fact, it is very difficult for anyone NOT to notice how the interest in using drones is rapidly expanding.

We enjoy seeing technology change, and grow. During these conferences, we often ask attendees how their companies currently measure stockpile inventory, and if there is a drone strategy in place.

Some businesses already have a drone, or are in the process of purchasing one.

A few have already tried to utilize a drone, but decided that it was not a good return on their investment, in terms of both the cash spent, and the time needed to obtain accurate stockpile reporting. So they stopped using a drone.

Distractions

Some companies and managers have told us that they don’t wish to make an investment in a drone just yet. A few reasons include:

  • Avoiding the need for instructional training
  • Don’t wish to make an investment in accompanying software
  • Their site location is not conducive to drones; such as being near an airport or in a windy area
  • Their stockpiles are messy: vegetation covers the piles, the pile materials touch, there are stackers and obstructions
  • They have multiple sites, spread out so far away from the other so travel becomes a factor
  • Not a clear, compelling ‘need’ to either purchase or lease a drone yet
  • Don’t want to buy more than one drone in case one becomes damaged or flies away
  • Not certain they will get a good ROI on a drone purchase in terms of labor savings vs. other survey methods over a period of time
  • Wary about FAA regulations

Generally, Stockpile Reports has found that the construction, transportation and mining industries prefer to avoid new investments that require massive training. Companies are interested in results that are accurate, safe, simple, legal, and of course, cost-effective.

Data

To drone or not to drone? We aren’t able to answer that question. Every company has different needs and concerns. Drones can be a very good way to gather data for stockpile volumetric reporting!

We can, however, authoritatively state that our clients really want answers. They want accurate perpetual inventory, and want to avoid write-offs.

Stockpile Reports has a patented platform that processes data gathered from a drone, from an airplane or via iPhone. It also doesn’t matter what type of drone is flown. Clients have the choice to use one image collection method, or all three!

In other words, BYOD. Bring your own drone, we’ll process the data. Don’t want to do that? No problem, we’ll provide the most cost effective flight survey solution in the market— we’ll fly your site and process the data. Or you can use an iPhone and we’ll process the data from your smartphone.

As you can see, it doesn’t matter what solution you choose. If you want to invest in a drone in the future, we’re here for you. Your company won’t need to also invest in a system to process the data, or to warehouse it. Our subscribers already receive those benefits. And even better— our clients receive accurate reports in hours with minimal training, no extra hidden fees, and no other distractions.

 

 

 

100 Companies in 12 Countries Have Used StockpileReports.com to Measure Over $2 Billion of Construction Aggregates Inventory

Over 4 Million Images Captured by Drones, iPhones and Airplanes for Physical Inventory of Stockpiled Materials

StockpileReports.com, an online image-based stockpile inventory management platform, today announced it has secured over 100 customers worldwide since the launch of its service in 2013. Marquee customers include the Texas Department of Transportation, CEMEX, Quikrete, and Lane Construction.

“Congratulations,” said Bruce Chattin, of the Washington Concrete and Aggregates Association. “Stockpile Reports has helped our members recognize the value of the ‘cash on the ground’ that stockpiles represent. Stockpile Reports provides the information necessary for inventory management, production forecasts, confirmation of production (and quantities) delivered, made, sold and financial analysis. For the very large or smaller producer, they provide a simple and easy tool that creates reports in real time, in real and accurate quantities.”

Image of Stockpile measurements and contour maps are derived from data collected by drone, iPhone or plane. The variety of measurement options is enabling over 100 customers to to reduce multimillion dollar write-offs.
Stockpile measurements and contour maps are derived from data collected by drone, iPhone or plane. Having a variety of measurement options is enabling clients to reduce multimillion dollar write-offs.

“Technology is changing the way we do business. With the capabilities and variety of management tools Stockpile Reports offers, stockpile management can now become a routine task,” said Chattin.

John DeLong, President of Hawaiian Cement agrees, “For the first time, our supervisors and managers have a tool to quickly, inexpensively and accurately measure stockpile tonnage at the end of the month or even at the end of their shifts. Gone are the days of costly inventory adjustments or production shortfalls.”

“Our incredible progress proves there’s a large market demand for the ability to perform quarterly or even monthly physical inventory counts to reduce multimillion dollar write-offs. Historically it has been too time consuming and expensive to perform physical inventory counts of thousands of stockpiles distributed across hundreds of locations so physical inventory counts were limited to once per year resulting in large financial swings,” said David Boardman, CEO of Stockpile Reports. “We are thrilled that our solution is attracting enterprise subscribers from around the world. They have the ability to choose to measure stockpiles by flying their drones, using our fly-over service, or even their iPhone.”

The recently patented StockpileReports.com platform leverages large-scale 3D reconstruction from the team at URC Ventures. The platform was developed by a team of industry-leading computer vision scientists, collectively holding 32 prior patents. The same technology has been used to derive a 4 billion-pixel point cloud of the Himalayas from 130,000 images. More recently over 12,000 landmarks were reconstructed in 3D from 100 million crowd-sourced images from Yahoo. URCV presented “How 12,903 of the World’s Most Beloved Landmarks Were Virtually Reconstructed in Six Days” at the Capturing Reality Forum in Salzburg, Austria, November 23-25.

“It’s very rewarding to see large scale computer vision begin to make an impact on every day business problems”, says Dr. Jan Michael Frahm, Chief Science Advisor at URC Ventures. “We have been processing over a 100 million images from cell phones and other cameras in an academic context for years. Our team has built an amazingly robust set of engines capable of processing 100s of millions of images. Having DOT workers, quality control engineers, quarry managers, and others use advanced computer vision techniques on a day-to-day basis to do their work is incredibly validating.”

Stockpile Reports will be exhibiting at Booth N3247 in Las Vegas during the World of Concrete show, February 2-5, 2016.

David Boardman will be presenting “Transforming Big Data into Big Results” at AGG1/World of Asphalt in Nashville, March 22-24, 2016. Look for Stockpile Reports at Booth 2851.

Photogrammetry and UAVs

Technology can sometimes seem too abstract to completely appreciate. Clients often don’t know what to expect after their first stockpile measurements, even after we explain it to them. That’s why the Stockpile Reports Sales and Support team often gives new clients a peek behind the scenes about what happens after their data is uploaded to our system. They are usually very delighted when they view their first 3D stockpile model online, and see the results of photogrammetry. As the saying goes: Seeing is believing!

What is Photogrammetry?

Photogrammetry is the art and science of obtaining precise mathematical measurements and three-dimensional (3D) data from two or more photographs. The term “photogrammetry” is derived from three Greek words: ‘photos’ meaning ‘light’, ‘gramma’ meaning ‘which is drawn’, and ‘metron’ meaning ‘to measure’. It is the science and technology of generating 3D information from 2D measurements.

It is astonishing to think that this science has existed since the 1860’s! Employing photogrammetry for commercial usage has become much more popular recently.

Current Usage

Who hasn’t heard or read about drones? It is difficult to avoid news about UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), commonly referred to as ‘drones’. Although the use of drones in photogrammetry and lidar mapping is still in the very early stages, interest in utilizing drones for various applications has exploded.

An example of a site point cloud, images taken by UAV. The data was processed by Stockpile Reports, and resulting stockpile volume results provided the client with measurement details and corresponding contour line drawing.
An example of a reconstructed site point cloud, using images taken by UAV. The data was processed by Stockpile Reports, and resulting stockpile volume results (click for details) provided the client with measurement details and corresponding contour line drawing.

The broad definition of a UAV covers balloons, kites, gliders, airships, rotary and fixed wing types. These have the capability for photogrammetric data acquisition in manual, semi-automated and automated flight mode.

Aerial photogrammetry is achieved by drone and by plane. This is done by mounting a camera either to, or inside an aircraft and is usually pointed vertically towards the ground. Multiple overlapping photos of the ground are taken as the aircraft flies along a flight path.

However, it isn’t just the flight path that matters to obtain a good photogrammatic result. If the photo imagery isn’t sharp, then the quality of a rendered 3D model suffers. Small features would be blurry if you were to zoom in on an aerial photo.

There is also close-range photogrammetry, where the camera is close to the subject, with an object-to-camera distance of less than 300 meters. Traditionally, this has applied to photographs using hand-held cameras, on a tripod, or on a vehicle.

The maximum flying height by commercial drones with a Section 333 license above populated areas, as required by the FAA is below 300 meters, so measuring by UAV would also be an example of close-range photogrammetry as well.

The same basic principles apply to photographs taken from a camera mounted on a tripod (terrestrial) and also to UAVs and cameras suspended from light sport aircraft (low level aerial). The photo imagery must be sharp to provide the basis for a good 3D output.

As of October 22, 2015, there are currently 2020 petitions for Section 333 Exemptions that have been granted by the FAA.

Applications for UAV photogrammetry

The most common use is for mapping. Examples include:

  • Orthophoto’s (geospatially corrected aerial images)
  • 3D Building Models
  • Contour Maps
  • Planemetric features such as road edges and heights, signs, building footprints, etc.
  • 3D vegetation modelling
  • Volumetric Surveys

Industries that benefit from having 3D models include:

  • Forestry Management and Planning
  • Flood Modelling
  • Pollution Modelling
  • Mapping and Cartography
  • Urban Planning
  • Coastline Management
  • Transport Planning
  • Oil and Gas Exploration
  • Quarries and Minerals
  • Archaeology
  • Cellular Network Planning

Stockpile Reports is experienced at processing the data collected from flying an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) or UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle).  We’ve been measuring stockpiles by UAV since 2013, in countries where this method is already accepted and regulated.

We are happy to assist clients with stockpile measurements taken via UAV, ensuring that the data captures optimal imagery, generating excellent results. We are also very experienced at piloting and operating various UAS models.

Contact us for more information about our reporting using UAVs. If you’d like to read more about photogrammetry in everyday life, check out another blog post.

 

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.

A Big Year for Drones

This has been a big year for UAVs. At the start of 2015, only about a dozen companies droneflighthad been granted special exemptions by the FAA to fly drones, and most of those were for filming on a closed set.

Now there are well over 1000 commercial exemptions to fly drones, for varying businesses such as agriculture, construction, security services, mining, oil and gas, utilities, emergency and disaster responses, and more.

In fact, in early August of 2015 Forbes reported that the FAA was approving applications at a rate of 50 per week.

Here is an excellent series of maps illustrating the geographic spread of the industry. As you can see, drone usage and interest from businesses is widespread throughout the US.

Commercial-Exemptions
Commercial Drone Exemptions Map, from the Center of the Study of the Drone

As a further illustration of industry interest, Stockpile Reports has begun meeting with new Drone/UAV Managers. They work in several companies that use our iPhone as a stockpile inventory management tool. Our top aggregate, mining and construction customers are very excited by drone surveying technology. They are interested in how data from drones can be integrated into a safe and automated workflow for stockpile measurements.

These companies ask us a lot of questions.

The UAV is not a new a surveying tool for our team. We’ve worked with various drone models throughout the world, in many environments and business applications since 2013. Our clients have measured stockpiles of varying material ranging from coal to gravel via UAV. These sites around the world continue to have a range of challenges that include wind, water, are extremely busy, are highly regulated, encompass large areas, have visibility issues, etc.

In addition to our senior support team, we also have a Senior Engineer who used to work for Boeing Aerospace R&D on staff. He is also a pilot, and continues to test and research UAVs and works with aerial data and imagery.

Stockpile Reports is best known for our patented platform utilizing iPhone imagery for stockpile measurements. The platform is also available for imagery collected from drones for subscribers. This truly gives your business the best of ground and air for stockpile measurements.

We believe accurate monthly inventory measurements are derived from a combination of tools. Using a drone alone doesn’t work for every business need or measurement scenario, nor does the iPhone, nor aerial flight measurements. Do you have a drone strategy and want site measurements, or are curious about utilizing a UAV? Contact Us.

BYOD: Bring Your Own Drone

The Past

The technology might seem new, but the concept is not. chasThe earliest recorded use of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for warfighting occurred on August 22, 1849, when the Austrians attacked the Italian city of Venice with unmanned balloons loaded with explosives.

Later on, balloons were flown in the U.S. Civil War in 1862, with both Confederate and Union forces using them for reconnaissance and bombing sorties.

Although balloons do not generally meet today’s definition of a UAV, the concept was strong enough that once winged aircraft had been invented, the effort to fly them unmanned for military purposes came quickly. The first pilotless aircraft were built during and shortly after World War I.

The Present

Did you know that you can process drone imagery using our company?

Our team has been working closely with drones and remotely piloted vehicles for nearly a decade.  We have seen the ease of use and capabilities increase – while the size and price has dropped dramatically over the past 10 years.

Stockpile Reports has been supporting Australian clients by providing uavblogstockpile reporting from drone/UAV flights in Australia for nearly 2 years. Our clients’ quarry sites are busy, and spread out geographically across the country. This limits the amount of stockpiles and locations that can be surveyed by more traditional methods in limited time periods. Clients use our iPhone Application for spot-measuring stockpiles, but is often impractical and sometimes dangerous to walk around a large site for monthly or quarterly stockpile measurements.

Many of our clients utilize planes for aerial stockpile measurements. However, factors including lower costs, longer-lasting and lighter-weight batteries, powerful processing, more accurate GPS, and updated FAA regulations, are increasing the desire for drone surveys from our American customers. They are buying many models, including the eBee, the Aibotix, DJI Phantom, and 3D Robotics IRIS.

Fly Your Drone

Stockpile Reports works closely with our customers, ensuring that the data gained from drones captures optimal imagery, generating excellent results. We are experienced at piloting and operating various models and are available for consultations. This includes helping you with flight patterns and camera angles.

After your flight, simply upload the data captured by your camera into our system for processing via computer.

Clients receive the fastest results in the industry — online access to site and stockpile reports from drone flights typically are available within hours after the data upload. You can easily download, view and share the resulting stockpile volumes of your site online!

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.

Drones will play an important role in your strategy for providing rapid turn production and inventory measurements. Contact us for more information—we’d be delighted to tell you more about recent site and stockpile measurements using UAVs.

Achieving the Goal: Stockpile Inventory Management

2015 is already half over. You only have six more months left to achieve your year-end targets. If you made a resolution last January to lose 10 lbs in 2015, there is still time remaining to make your goal— if you make changes to your habits.

A combination of measuring by iPhone and by aerial methods is the solution for gathering stockpile measurements for inventory.
A combination of measuring by iPhone and by aerial methods provides stockpile measurements for inventory.

Speaking of losses… how are your inventory numbers tracking to your 2015 plan? Are you afraid that the company will need to write off millions of dollars again at the end of the year?

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. The challenges of measuring the volume of stockpiled materials are many.

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 CFO wants to ensure that production levels remain in alignment with the year’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, and sometimes the information arrives late.

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.

The benefits of using an iPhone and aerial combination include:

  • Measuring with an iPhone is easy enough to use that anyone can measure stockpiles with minimal training
  • Using an iPhone on the ground enables frequent measurements
  • Using aerial data by plane or drone provides regular quarterly measurements
  • Aerial stockpile measurements provides inventory information for hard-to-reach, or dangerous stockpiles
  • Stockpile Reports arranges and provides certified aerial photographers to fly your site, and are trained to collect optimal imagery
  • 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 the company
  • 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. Make an action plan that will get you to your target. Contact us today for more information and ask about a demonstration— we can help.

Should Your Company Measure by Aerial or iPhone?

Your company may want to measure stockpiles by both: aerial and iPhone!

Here are a few reasons why we recommend adding aerial measurements:

  • Stockpiles are very hard to walk around. For example, they might touch an adjoining pile, run into bushes, trees or be located next to water.
  • The piles are tall, and one is unable to see the top of the pile from the ground. The top might be quite bumpy.
  • Stockpiles are located in a high-traffic area
  • There are many multiple stockpiles located in a wide-spread area
  • The company has stockpiles located in various locations or across multiple U.S. States
  • The financial team and CFO requires regular measurements of stockpiles across the enterprise monthly, or quarterly, with results available online for every pile within 24-hours of data uploadobstruction
  • Allows for remote site management and accountability, to avoid end of the year write-offs

Here are a few reasons why using an iPhone is great for measuring stockpiles:

  • Appropriate in large or small sites
  • Can easily use in light traffic areas
  • Works best measuring stockpiles that don’t touch are are easy to reach
  • Great for quickly measuring very large stockpiles with flat tops
  • Great for small or large stockpiles having viewable, bumpy tops
  • Reduces third party expenses related to measurements, with lower-internal labor costs
  • Gets the CFO regular measurements and online documented inventory within 24-hours of data upload

busyandbigThe Best of Ground and Air for Your Business

Your company will benefit by measuring by either iPhone or by augmenting your subscription by aerial or by drone. Our affordable subscription plans and 24-hour turnarounds from data collection to stockpile reporting is unsurpassed in the industry.

Customers have the opportunity to get 12 monthly measurements for the typical price of only one fly-over by other services, which makes Stockpile Reports’ aerial solution the most cost-effective aerial survey solution available.

 

Measure stockpiles on the ground with an iPhone or Water-Hazardmeasure your site by air. The choice is yours. To find out more about our service contact Stockpile Reports now.

The New FAA Rules for Drones

The FAA recently announced new safety regulations for small unmanned aircraft systems (under 55 pounds) conducting non-recreational operations. The proposed UAS rules limit flights to daylight and visual line-of-sight operations. It also addresses height restrictions, operator certification, optional use of a visual observer, aircraft registration and marking, and operational limits.A DJI Phantom hovering above a stockpile.

These new rules don’t affect recreational users, or ‘hobbyists’. They are still free to pilot their model planes around their backyards. The policy for recreational use has not changed.

Operators

Under the proposed rule, the person actually flying a small UAS would be an “operator.” An operator would have to be at least 17 years old, pass an aeronautical knowledge test and obtain an FAA UAS operator certificate. To maintain certification, the operator would have to pass the FAA knowledge tests every 24 months.

Operators are required to maintain a visual line of sight of a small UAS. The rule would allow an operator to work with a visual observer who would maintain constant visual contact with the aircraft. The operator would still need to be able to see the UAS with unaided vision (except for glasses).

We at Stockpile Reports are very excited with this progress from the FAA, which encourages safety and responsible use. Imagery from UAS, or ‘drones’ will benefit mining, construction and aggregates industries, and should support rapid turnarounds for on-demand volume measurements here in the USA.

Stockpile Reports currently utilizes drone imagery from certified fliers in Australia and generates measurement reports for our clients ‘down under’. Drones are called RPAs in Australia, which stands for “Remotely Piloted Aircraft.” The guidelines for RPA usage have been in place for some time, and continue to be revised due to increased popularity of usage and various safety incidents.