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.

Client Training and Activity

The end of every month is always exciting for our team. Our customers measure their stockpile inventory by plane, drone and iPhone, and the number of measurement activity always increases at month’s end.

242 TxDOT employees measured stockpiles for June's inventory.
242 TxDOT employees measured stockpiles for June’s inventory.

1 Month + 1 State + 242 Employees = 2000 Stockpile Reports

The TxDOT measured almost 2000 stockpiles for their statewide inventory in June. They did it all in-house, with 242 state DOT employees across 25 Texas districts. This week our team assisted them with measuring material in bins. Richard and Galen trained team members on how to use our iPhone app to measure bunkers onsite, adding to a more complete inventory total for the state.

It is officially the Fall season now, but this week, the weather across the US has been favorable for client training. Our Sales and Support team have been racking up the frequent flier miles by training clients from the east to the west coasts. This is a great way for us to hear first-hand about business’s stockpile measurement challenges and assist clients personally with advanced training.

If you’re interested in seeing what Stockpile Reports can do for your business, please connect with us. We’re here to help you manage your inventory.

Bunker measurement training at the Texas Department of Transportation.
Bunker measurement training at the Texas Department of Transportation.
Reviewing a bunker stockpile report in the classroom.
Reviewing a bunker stockpile report in the classroom.
As the weather begins to change, regular inventory of road salt (stored in bunkers) is essential for state and local DOTs.
As the weather begins to change, regular inventory of road salt (stored in bunkers) is essential for state and local DOTs.
It only took 65 seconds to measure the contents of this bunker.
It only took 65 seconds to measure the contents of this bunker, after the cones and wall dimensions were entered into the app.
This client is clearing the area around a stockpile prior to measurement.
This client is clearing the area around a stockpile prior to measurement.
A customer is getting ready to measure stockpile inventory.
A customer is getting ready to measure stockpile inventory, with measuring tape, 2 construction cones and an iPhone.
Placing the construction cones in front of the pile.
Placing the construction cones in front of the pile.

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.

Stockpile Reports on Cover of xyHt Magazine

Wow! We’re thrilled to be on the cover of, and a featured story in July’s xyHt magazine. Stockpile Reports photo on the cover of xyHt magazine.By the way, that’s a photo of our CEO David Boardman, at a client site in Redmond, WA.

XyHt is an evolving resource for professionals in the fields of positioning and measurement. Some of the topics the magazine and website writes about include engineering surveying, construction surveying, machine control, Satellite imagining/photogrammetry, and more.

If you are wondering how Stockpile Reports got started, this is a great article to read. It goes into depth about our parent company URCV and how we partnered with our very first client.

The xyHt article has a great overview about the engineering brains, titled ‘The Vision Team,’ behind our patent-pending software platform. Dr. Jan- Michael Frahm, Dr. Brian Clipp, and Dr. Charles Erignac have fascinating backgrounds. You’ll also get a peek at some of their other world-class 3D work and projects.

You may want to find out even more about Stockpile Reports after reading the article. We’re able to personally answer inquiries— just send us an email.

Stockpile Inventory for the CFO

We’ve written in this blog about several issues in the field that cause variances in stockpile measurement results. These include belt calibration, third-party volume discrepancies, changing material densities, pile grooming, varying stockpile sizes and safety concerns. 

It is no wonder that many companies are unable to regularly track inventory of stockpiled material.

Operations managers know that tracking inventory from month to month is a hard problem to solve, and an inexact science.

However, the CFO has a completely different perspective on the inventory problem. Writing off millions, or tens of millions, at the end of a fiscal year is extremely painful.

Never Again

Enterprises are writing off millions of dollars due to inaccurate inventory numbers each year. Isn’t it time that our industry adopts modern, streamlined approaches similar to retail and automotive industries?

To mitigate painful write-offs, the CFO needs data: inventory measurements done regularly, and performed company-wide.

Explain a request for regular inventory measurements to people outside our industry, and they often assume that gathering and sharing company-wide measurements is an easy and standardized practice.

However, there are a variety of ways companies currently measure: by walking wheel, GPS, laser, drones, aerials and by ‘thumb’. The chances of being able to taking monthly stockpile measurements by one— or a combination of these methods— regularly, and consistently, seems to be wildly optimistic. Add to this mix the logistics of measurements across multiple sites, cities and states.

There’s more: how about adding the challenge of how to enter and reconcile all that data, from varying sources? CFOs get results via multiple emails, spread sheets, and application softwares.

It is no wonder that both the CFO and the Operations teams get very grumpy sometimes.

What if a stockpile measurement method…

  • Was easy enough to use that anyone could measure stockpiles with minimal training?
  • Didn’t have to be outsourced, and someone was trained how to do it at every site?
  • The results met the consistency and accuracy requirements of the company.
  • The results were automatically processed and available to corporate with no data entry?
  • Could be used on the majority of piles on a site?

Consider the iPhone

Many of you may have the measurement solution already in the palm of your hand! Accurate stockpile measurements with an iPhone is a current reality, and being utilized by clients in 12 countries. Notable domestic clients include the Texas DOT, Pete Lien and Sons and Knife River. Our domestic and international customers have measured more than 115 million tons of material so far using our platform!

Did you know that beyond the point of measurement, the Stockpile Reports platform also supports online reconciliation? This provides the data to the CFO quickly and consistently. Here is a shortcut to more information about our custom reports.

Production — Sales = Inventory

Remember that every stockpile is cash on the ground. Do you know how much cash is sitting on-site each month, or by quarter?

Don’t be surprised by what little you know at the end of the year. Start tracking and measuring your inventory now. Contact us today for more information about our subscription-based service and reconciliation features.

 

Football, Business and Stockpiles

Some of the people who work at Stockpile Reports never tire of football season. The Super Bowl is a bittersweet event.
Image of football

Regardless of whether or not you are a rabid American football fan, there are many parallels between sports teams and business.

Players and Coaches

In all team sports there are key players with designated roles. Nearly every football player has a unique job to do, while also responsible for covering their teammates. Quarterbacks do not act alone—they are part of a team that includes players with speed, strength players, a staff of supporting coaches and excellent communication between the positions in the ‘field of play’.

Business managers are quite similar to football coaches. They have a playbook with instructions and strategies on how to keep their company advancing towards the goal. Managers and coaches train their players, making adjustments as needed, and know how to play to their team’s strengths. Managers ensure the team has the necessary equipment needed to help their company perform. Simply substitute football helmets and shoulder pads for company software and hardware equipment.

A team doesn’t only consist of individual players. There are also various departments who work as a team but also operate differently. For example, a business Sales and Finance team and an IT team have different skill-sets, but each support the other.

The Goal

Of course, the ultimate goal in football is to win, and be a consistent winner.

How about your business– does it have a plan for success, and a goal?

What is your strategy for achieving those goals? Similar to football players, does each member of your team know his/her role in moving the organization forward to achieve them?

Raising Your Score

Your managers on-site want accurate stockpile inventory, but to reduce third-party expenses and labor costs. The Finance team needs inventory data to be timely, documented and auditable. Workers want safe, fast results that follow best practices, are safe and MSHA compliant. The VP wants measurements made more often and the ability to manage several sites remotely to promote profitability and reduce risk.

If these goals sound familiar to your operation, you may want to revise your playbook and look to us for a competitive advantage.

Stockpile Reports provides the data and knowledge that will improve your entire operation, not just one part of it. Measure your stockpiles with new tools, such as an iPhone, by aerial, or drone. Add our stockpile and site reports into your mix for remote site intelligence.

How can our team assist your team? We’re here to help. Contact us today.

Resolve to Manage Your Inventory

A recent study by Wasp Barcode Technologies reported that businesses in North America have slightly more confidence in 2015’s economy vs. one year ago, while companies with 50 or less employees are more pessimistic. These respondents included owners, CEOs, COOs, CFOs, VPs and Director-level management.

Similarly, the National Federation of Independent Business said this week that its Small Business Optimism Index increased 2.3 points to 100.4 last month, the highest reading since October 2006.

Resolve to be more efficient in 2015.
Resolve to be more efficient in 2015.

The NFIB’s survey said that more small business owners view their current inventory of goods as insufficient to meet the anticipated increase in sales.

The ability to project revenue growth, manage cash, manage inventory and track data accurately helps drive and manage growth. However, to increase control, efficiency and business profitability, shouldn’t you utilize the tools available to give you this information quickly?

Cut the paperwork and increase productivity not only on-site, but also for your company’s office.

Stockpile volumes vary throughout the year. We hear from our customers that some measure their piles quarterly, some month-to-month, and in busy seasons many would like to weekly.

However, the resulting stockpile measurement results are not clear indicators that an entire site is operating efficiently— especially if your company has to schedule measurements weeks in advance, or wait days to receive volume results. Your site has already changed during that time.

Make data your ally.

Businesses that want to continue business growth, and be more productive in 2015 need current information and insight into their inventory.

Get greater control of your business with:

  • Increased accuracy and accountability.
  • Knowing what your stockpile inventory is at any one time.
  • Ability to plan where to place or move a stockpile
  • Have up-to-date site inventory data for reconciliation and forecasting
  • Creating an audit trail

Improve efficiency by:

  • Cutting paperwork
  • Spotting errors quickly
  • Reducing third-party measurement expenses and scheduling
  • Receive site calculations in hours

Plan for growth:

  • Make informed decisions
  • Remote managers can visually inspect the quality and state of each stockpile and site
  • View operations and reports globally
  • Lower internal labor costs

Stockpile Reports enables you to measure your stockpiles with our patent-pending platform and service. Our system generates two primary reports for customers: the Stockpile Report and a Site Report. All reports are automated and results available online to clients within 24-hours of data upload.

Using an iPhone to collect data means companies can measure each pile in under 10 minutes, with online-results available to view in under 24-hours. A business could regularly measure an entire site, or even multiple sites, in less than one day.

Want to include Aerial, and UAV measurements into reports? We do that, too. Pile shapes and locations often dictate other measurement methods. Our subscribers have access to all of these methods, and this is especially helpful if you need an entire site measured quickly.

Contact us or give us a call (425) 285-4303 for more details.

Inventory Management for Business Operations

What would happen if a coffee shop could not supply customers with a cup of coffee, or could only sell half a cup because the shop had run out of beans, with no visibility into when inventory was running low and when to restock?

Neighborhood grocery stores, bookstores, coffee shops, fast-food restaurants, distilleries, car manufacturers, computer makers and national retail chains all tackle the same challenges– of how to best manage and measure inventory—and use modern systems allowing them to do so successfully. The invention of the bar code such as the UPCthe RFID and the UID are a great examples of recent innovations proven to be invaluable for organizing data and tracking objects for various objects and industries.

Moreover, businesses now sell via several channels, not just in-store:inventory image

  • Online
  • Catalog
  • Phone
  • Mobile devices

Record-keeping and accounting has needed to evolve just to keep pace with these changes. The challenges of older accounting methods included:

  • Data maintenance and corrections
  • Difficult reporting, unable to see data in many ways and real-time
  • Too much reliance on the warehouse staffs who built the tracking system
  • Linking inventory data with other information

Think about how much time was needed to record and track inventory by entering data into Excel spreadsheets, using databases built in-house or manually with paper and pencil!

Businesses who wish to be competitive utilize real-time insight into sales and inventory data– especially if there are multiple site locations and sales channels. Managing inventory needs to be efficient, reliable, fast and accessible on-line. Even small and mid-sized businesses have come to rely on computerized inventory management systems. 

Electronic tracking systems can dramatically impact all phases of inventory management. Examples include counting and monitoring of inventory items; recording and retrieval of item storage location; recording changes to inventory; and anticipating inventory needs.  Some benefits of implementing improved business operations and processes are:

  • Better visibility of inventory levels
  • Product segmentation and classification
  • Utilization of forecasting methodology
  • Ready access to real-time and accurate material inventories
  • Minimizes working capital
  • Increases customer satisfaction through higher service levels
  • Maintain operations with little disruption

The ultimate goal of improved inventory management is the ability to control inventory quarter to quarter, preventing nasty surprises that can bite the bottom line.

The differences between retail access and inventory management of the past and of today have moved far beyond the invention of the bar code. Even the bar code has evolved past the sticky label. Lasers are now used to engrave bar codes on car parts. 

How has your yard or quarry’s inventory management system and processes evolved?

Have you had the opportunity to upgrade your processes? If not, why not?

We’ll share your comments and challenges on our blog next week. [contact_form email=”info@stockpilereports.com” subject=”Inventory Blog Post Comment”]

Taking Monthly Stockpile Inventory — In Summer?

Measuring stockpile inventory in the Summer.You’ve heard the saying “Make hay while the sun shines.” Now is the busiest time of the year for most businesses that manage or utilize stockpiles in the US.

Our customers are on-site early in the morning until later in the day, taking advantage of the sunshine and warm weather. Highway departments, construction companies, mining, pulp and paper mills, land reclamation and agricultural project employees are working hard to finish ongoing projects and meet deadlines.

Many companies have told us that they are very, very active servicing their customers right now. They’d like to take inventory every month but are waiting until the quarter ends, as measuring stockpiles usually involves worker down-time, accessibility challenges and third-party expenses.

We understand. It is a tough choice to make: verify product inventory accurately with significant down-time, or immediately utilize materials (and hope there are no issues with buy/sale amounts.)

That’s why the Stockpile Reports system is the answer to your summertime stockpile measurement challenges. You will verify your stockpile inventory quickly and receive accurate results— with minimal impact to your daily business operations.

Measure stockpiles in the summer quickly and accurately by using an iPhone. There is very little equipment needed and no special equipment or extensive training required. Typical stockpiles may be measured in as little as 15 minutes, and stockpile report results are ready to view and download in hours. Our customer support team members are available to help you by coaching and training users remotely. Our team is committed to ensuring that customer stockpile measurements are taken safely, quickly, efficiently with extremely accurate results.

The benefits of using Stockpile Reports during peak season production include:

  • Reducing labor time and third party expenses related to measuring your stockpiles
  • Reducing internal labor costs related to data management
  • Reducing over and under-producing due to improper belt scale calibration
  • Validate buy and sale amounts with 3rd parties
  • Increase productivity and compliance to MSHA regulations
  • Receive automatic audit trails

Summer only arrives once a year. Don’t wait until Fall— now is the time to maximize your business’s profit performance. We want you to be able to enjoy a cool glass of iced tea (or whatever your favorite summertime beverage may be) with friends and family and worry less about your inventory.

Stockpile Reports’ benefits add up to better decision-making, faster inventory turns and lower operating expenses. Contact Stockpile Reports today about our service, or inquire about our  No-Cost Trial.

“There’s Something Wrong With These Numbers.”

Customers make stockpile measurements with our system and upload the measurement data for processing. A few hours after upload, the results are displayed online with the tonnage, volume and location with contour mapping and corresponding video. Customers are typically very pleased with their report results.

However, occasionally our Sales Support team receive phone calls from customers concerned about their reports. They say, “There’s something wrong with these numbers,” after studying the tonnage results.chris2

The team at Stockpile Reports test, and retest our system for accuracy. When our customers say there is a discrepancy in our reporting numbers, we take what they say seriously. The first thing we do is look for errors in measurement and data processing.

After working closely with the first few customers concerned that reported volume numbers was much lower than recorded in their inventory, Stockpile Reports managed to solve the mystery of the mis-matched numbers.

Our customers’ belt scales were out of calibration.

In fact, for one of our customers their belt scales were so inaccurate that the expected weight of 40,000 tons measured was actually half that amount. It’s no wonder they called us!

Sadly, belt discrepancy is not unusual. Belt scales go out of calibration for varying reasons. This includes but is not limited to: errors between different materials, affects of differing belt speeds, a mis-match between static calibration and live performance, belt tension, material slip, maintenance or plain-old ‘user error’.

Our customers discovered that measuring material using the Stockpile Reports system is an excellent solution for validating and reducing over/under producing due to improper belt scale calibrations.

Avoid a nasty surprise for your company. Catch belt scale calibration issues early and avoid write-offs later in the year. Contact us to see if your company qualifies for a No-Cost Trial.