This article by Guy Woodford, originally appeared in the December 2016 edition of Aggregates Business Europe.
As part of a trial of the potential use of drones to support its operations, Hanson UK has been using a Kespry Automated Drone System to routinely measure limestone aggregate stockpiles at its Chipping Sodbury Quarry in Gloucestershire, England. The 1 million tonnes/year quarry supplies construction material to projects ranging from motorway and other highway repairs to local building works.
“Currently, we have an independent stock survey carried out on a monthly basis,” explains James Veakins, manager of the Chipping Sodbury site. “Using this information for the stock on the ground relative to the sales for the month over the weighbridge gives me an idea of how much material we need to process in the coming period."
“The problem with this is that we only get our exact on-the-floor stock measurement on a month-by-month basis. Some of our products are fast moving. For example, I could be selling 2,000 tonnes a day of our Type 1 aggregate when we’re extremely busy. It’s very difficult for our sales team to be confident when speaking to customers that there’s enough stock available at this site to satisfy the orders they’re taking.”
“My foreman and supervisor are assessing stockpile levels every day, but it’s a visual best guess, albeit an educated one. This Kespry technology allows me on a weekly or even daily basis to get very accurate stockpile measurements of all the different sized aggregate products I have available. I can then use that information to determine how I set up my crushing and screening plant to optimise the production of different materials. For example, if I’m selling an awful lot of 10mm premium product, I can adjust the settings on the processing plant to make more of it. I can also communicate the stockpile volume data to the sales team, so they’ve got a quick and accurate reference when communicating with customers.”