Yes, You Can Still Be More Productive in 2015!

Have you kept your 2015 resolutions? It isn’t too late. verticalmeasurements

A common theme that we heard from our clients this year, is that they want to increase their productivity.

We understand, because we do, too!

Stockpile Reports put into motion several strategies beginning before January 2015, to increase productivity in 2015.

A Redesigned Stockpiles App

This past year we released a redesigned Stockpiles App for the iPhone, with more tools that makes ground-based stockpile measuring faster and more intuitive for users.

The updated App, in turn, reduced the amount of questions from our clients. The new tools and ease of use gave clients and executives higher confidence in successfully completing a stockpile measurement, time after time after time. That enabled them to be even more productive while measuring piles, in smaller sites and also across a large enterprise.

For example, the Texas Department of Transportation measured thousands of stockpiles during the month of June as part of their annual inventory. The people who performed the measurements weren’t surveyors. They ranged from front-loaders to executives. They were not only very productive (one team measured 185 stockpiles in an hour) but they were also confident in the quality of their report results.

Aerial Offering Takes Off

Stockpile Reports also launched our aerial capability for the US in early 2015. Our aerial offering has become quite successful since then! Subscribers are receiving monthly measurements for the typical price of only one fly-over by other services. This gives them an opportunity to review how a site changes over time, and make future planning easier.

Clients 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.

Debunking Difficult Bunker Measurements

A big source of frustration for our customers was trying to figure out how to get the volume of material stored in their bunkers and bins.

We listened to them, and put our engineers and team members on many different sites across the US, examining various bunker configurations and materials, both indoors and outside.

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

We released another new capability in 2015: bunker and bin measurements using an iPhone. 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.

BYOD: Bring Your Own Drone

All of us saw the explosion of drone usage and interest in 2015. UAVs are now playing an increasing role in company’s strategy for providing rapid turn production and inventory measurements.

Our engineering 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 during that time.

Stockpile Reports has been supporting Australian clients by providing stockpile reporting from drone/UAV flights in Australia for 2 years now.

Our US clients can process drone imagery using our company. 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.

Connect with us today. 2016 is almost here. You still have time to achieve your 2015 goal to measure and manage your stockpile inventory more productively!

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.

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.

The Next Generation of the Stockpiles App is Here!

We appreciate our customers so much— not only for their business, blogapphorizontalbut also for their honest feedback about our service. Our clients sure are creative! Many have suggested other measurement applications and scenarios that utilize the iPhone in unexpected ways, and also provided us ideas for continued improvements.

The Stockpile Reports team began developing and testing new measurement methods over six months ago. Some new ideas came from our clients.  If you were to sit in on meetings, you’d hear the development and quality assurance team members ask each other questions that started with, “What if we added….” and “Why not change…” and “Take a look at…”

That’s why we are so enthused to announce that version 4.0 of the Stockpiles App was released via the Apple Store over the weekend! Our subscribers have already had great feedback about this new upgrade. Version 4.0 really is a generational leap from our previous versions. It is packed with new features and even easier to use!

What’s New:blogjonathanbunker_recording

    • New sun flare alert indicator. Clients will be warned if they are measuring when the sun is low on the horizon. The App provides the peak stockpile measurement times, customized to measurement location and the time of year.
    • New alignment indicator on the screen helps users know how close to the pile they should stand when measuring.
    • The App automatically removes old imagery and data when a report is successfully generated, giving  better space management by reducing the storage needed on your iPhone.
    • Now view completed reports directly on the App, and see the current status of data uploads. We’ve also automatically loaded the 10 most recent completed measurements. Want to view more than 10? Just click on a More Reports Tab.
    • New option to measure material stored
      in 1, 2, or reports-appemail3-sided bunkers 
      using the iPhone and App.
    • An updated App interface with more intuitive navigation. Help, Contact Information, Settings and Notifications have moved but are still easy to find.

Find Out More

If your company is interested in learning more about measuring your stockpiles and bunkers, please contact us. The App is only available for subscribers to the Stockpile Reports service and platform. Our patent-pending application also enables fast, accurate reporting for stockpiles measured by aerial or ‘drone’.

 

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.

How Pete Lien & Sons Improved Worker Safety by Measuring Stockpiles with an iPhone

Pete Lien & Sons engaged the Stockpile Reports’ service as a means to improve the accuracy of their stockpile measurements while maintaining employee safety.

Safety first: A worker at Pete Lien & Sons using an iPhone to measure stockpiles safely.

Previous methods of stockpile measuring had limited accuracy. This was due to the need to walk on stockpiles with data collection equipment, which the company does not allow. Other systems that do not require accessing stockpiles were considered, and ruled out due to the additional hardware, data processing time and training costs that would be required for multiple users. Using an iPhone as a measurement tool provided a safe and accurate way to measure stockpiles without the investment in additional hardware equipment, technical processing, and extensive training.

About Pete Lien & Sons

For over a half century, Pete Lien & Sons has provided construction materials for communities across South Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado. The company’s commitment to customer service and product quality has helped it grow from its humble beginnings to a large scale, multi-state operation with over 400 employees.

Throughout the history of the company, Pete Lien and Sons’ core business has been mining, primarily limestone, followed by sand and gravel. The company currently has mines in Colorado, South Dakota, and Wyoming. The company is a major supplier to concrete plants, road contractors, and homeowners.

Current Safety Standards To Be Met

Pete Lien & Sons’ priority is to provide a safe and healthful workplace for employees which is accomplished in part by maintaining compliance with both federal, and state laws and regulations.

Accidents cost much more than money. In addition to lost productivity, increased insurance premiums, medical bills, workman’s compensation, and, in the most tragic cases, death benefits, the company loses the respect of the local community, and morale among employees.

Inventory is an important tool that an operation uses to measure success and plan for the future. Any additional accuracy in the measurement process improves their ability to monitor their progress and make decisions that will improve efficiency. The benefit of obtaining more accurate inventory data may inadvertently incentivize operations staff to walk on stockpiles with survey equipment, even if it is not a company approved practice. Pete Lien & Sons recognized the potential conflict, and began a search for a tool that would assist in eliminating it.

Why Stockpile Reports Was Selected

Stockpile Reports is the only available service delivering accurate stockpile volume, tonnage and pile locations using an Apple® iPhone® device. The patent-pending Stockpiles App provides real-time feedback and guidance for the user on-site. Results are typically available within hours after data is uploaded to the servers. Upon completion of processing, users may then login to stockpilereports.com and view the tonnage and volume results via a site report and a corresponding stockpile report.

Collection features encoded into the Stockpiles App are built-in to enable companies to promote employee safety and MSHA regulatory compliance.

Safety benefits from measuring with an iPhone include:

  • Less time workers are exposed to hazardous conditions on-site. Typical collection times per pile each average between 1-4 minutes.
  • Minimizes the possibility of having to return for subsequent data collection by communicating in real-time user errors while recording, via Smart Collect audio and visual notifications.
  • Using the iPhone as directed circumvents the need to climb piles as done by traditional GPS data collection.

Training the Team

Pete Lien & Sons’ GIS Technician downloaded the Stockpiles App onto an iPhone and was assigned an administrative user account and password to access the client portal on StockpileReports.com.

Site, product data and tonnage conversions were entered into the Stockpile Reports system with a list of sites and users.

Personalized training sessions online were conducted with instructions for beginners on how to measure piles with an iPhone, similar to online assistance as provided to all clients.

After completion of online training, the GIS Technician coached internal team members on how to measure with iPhone. Stockpile Reports then made a company visit to South Dakota and assisted the team with advanced training. The service was then rolled out to all of Pete Lien & Sons’ sites.

Results/Impact of Safety Partnership

Since the inception of the partnership agreement, over 350 stockpile measurements have been safely made from stockpiles across the states of Wyoming, South Dakota and Colorado.

There were zero stockpile measurement-related accidents at Pete Lien & Sons’ locations while using the iPhone.

The majority of stockpiles measured were in the 0-1000 ton range, with an average time to measure of 2:17 with an iPhone. Piles with a range of 1000-3000 averaged less than 3 minutes per measurement, at 2:59.

“Our employees at Pete Lien & Sons are our most valuable resource,”said Danielle Wiebers, Manager of Environmental Safety and Affairs. “We’re able to train any employee equipped with an iPhone to take measurements safely, accurately, and in less time. We are confident not only in the accuracy of the results, but also for the safety of our team. It’s a win-win for our company.

Download the complete case study here.

For more information about how the Stockpile Reports system can help your company reduce risk and be more productive, please read this blog post.

Stockpile Reports’ benefits add up to better decision-making with lower risk, faster inventory turns and lower operating expenses.  Contact us to find out how your business can benefit from utilizing our service today.

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.

Stockpile Measurement Training

Measuring stockpile inventory in the Summer. Using an iPhone to measure stockpiles is an accurate, fast and easy solution for our clients. Many of our clients utilize our measurement solution for multiple sites, with multiple users on a variety of stockpiles.

We love to train customers who have multiple users on-site! This enables everyone to have personalized guidance and have their questions answered on the spot. Training the team means that each user learns not only by observation but also by practice.

We were with new clients recently and trained their teams on how to measure their stockpiles using an iPhone.

We help our new users learn how to use their iPhone, the way to hold it, learn how to set up the cones, upload data and then view their measurements. Our trainers show the site reports from their training exercises, and each corresponding stockpile report.

Most of our clients enjoy reviewing their results the most while in a training session. It is fun to see the resulting volume reports and contour map created from their measurements. Since training is done on the same stockpile with multiple users, each person can compare their results and learn from each other’s videos.

 

 

 

The Buzz about Drones in 2015

Who hasn’t noticed all the news coverage about drones in 2014? Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or ‘UAVs’ have not only been captivating the news media, but also garnering positive– and negative– reactions from companies, the public, and various government agencies, including the FAA.

There are high-flying expectations for the UAV market in 2015.

model-aircraft-infographic
Click on picture to view full-size.

The Consumer Electronics Association, which organizes the 2015 CES Show, recently stated the drone market should be worth about $130m in 2015 – 50% higher than 2014.

There is quite a bit of frustration on the ground in the US, due to the slow pace of the Federal Aviation Administration’s rules and regulations regarding commercial use, and the agency has been noncommittal about a timeline.

The Federal Aviation Administration missed its self-imposed deadline of Dec. 22 to propose rules for small commercial drones in the U.S.–regulations it began working on more than five years ago.

Currently, the commercial use of drones is banned in the United States, which has left professional photographers, filmmakers, real estates agents, farmers and others angling for space in a highly restricted, yet largely uncharted marketplace.

While some drone operators have already created websites and offer aerial photography for hire, the FAA has targeted people in nine states and issuing fines and a total of 17 cease and desist letters to those operating drones for a commercial purpose.

The FAA states that safety is their first mission. Unmanned Aircraft Systems operations are currently not authorized in Class B airspace (PDF), which exists over major urban areas and contains the highest density of manned aircraft in the National Airspace System.

Since June 1, pilots have reported 25 near-collisions with rogue drones and about 150 other incidents in which drones were spotted in forbidden airspace. In addition, safety incidents reported to the FAA have grown to more than 40 per month, according to data reported for the first time in November 2014.

However, hobby or recreational flying currently doesn’t require FAA approval.

Posted guidance from the FAA states that ‘model aircraft’ should not interfere with manned aircraft, be flown within sight of the operator and be operated only for hobby or recreational purposes. The agency also explains that model aircraft operators flying within five miles of an airport must notify the airport operator and air traffic control tower.

The FAA is obliged to integrate drones into the US air traffic by September 30, 2015, but it is highly unlikely that the deadline will be met.

The FAA is moving, but slowly.

The total number of companies currently allowed by the FAA to commercially operate drones in the U.S. is 13.

Recent news for 2015 includes that the FAA allowed the first real estate company to use drones for aerial photography.

The FAA also recently granted an exception to allow a drone for monitoring crops in Washington State.

The first exemptions were handed out in June 2014 — the first attempt by the FAA to legislate drone use in the United States. Oil and Gas company BP used its drone to survey Alaska’s North Slope to oversee maintenance activities taking place there.

UAVs  in Australia

Outside of the US, UAV usage is much more common. Google drones are already flying in Australia.

Stockpile Reports was in Australia several times in 2014. We’ve been able to measure volumes and map stockpiles safely there, using UAVs as well as an iPhone.

Unlike in the US, rules for commercial usage in Australia are clearly posted and enforced. Drone/UAV fliers must have an Unmanned Operator’s Certificate issued by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). Here is the latest restrictions as of December 2014.

What’s Next?

The FAA on Dec. 22, 2014 began a drone-safety campaign entitled Know Before You Fly along with a group representing hobbyists and two trade groups. The Consumer Electronics Association endorsed the effort in a press conference at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

However, frustration has set in for the industry, and even Congress is now interested in the FAA’s plans for commercial drones and how the FAA will address the differences between using a drone for commercial purposes versus for recreation.

Prepare for the 2014 Holiday Season

The month of December presents a great opportunity to boost company operations and performance before the year’s end.December calendar

It is holiday season, but that doesn’t mean your company can’t be productive! Your business can prepare for missed measurements due to weather events and holiday time.

December has measurement challenges unique to this month: weather changes, travel, short work-weeks, and shortened attention spans due to holiday celebrations and planning. These challenges are shared for businesses located in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

Some of our team members will be traveling to Australia to meet with clients later this week. The weather is warm and sunny ‘down under’. Although it’ll be a pleasant change from the cold temps in the US, we’re there to assist our clients and help them prepare for 2015.

Safety on-site is important year-round, but especially so in the holidays. A great advantage of using an iPhone to measure stockpiles is that the user doesn’t have to walk on piles to gather data. Using an iPhone is also quick and accurate– benefits for workers and for business. A shortened month doesn’t mean safety should be sacrificed for productivity— there’s no need to rush or cut corners.

Australia MapOur service enables you to measure and manage 100% of your stockpile inventory volume in under 24-hours. Get started this week. Read a recent blog post with tips on how to measure during winter if you are in the Northern Hemisphere. For those of you located in the Southern Hemisphere, view our tips on measuring stockpiles on sunny days. Neither snow nor sun should stop your company from measuring or auditing current inventory.

There are less than 30 days remaining in December, so get out there and measure! Management and finance teams will appreciate having timely data and use that to plan for 2015’s site operations. Utilize our service’s suite of measurement options and reports now.

If you have questions about the best measurement method for your site, please contact us. If you are a current client, visit the Customer Help area.