North Star BlueScope Steel manufactures hot rolled steel bands used to create products including guard rails, propane tanks and indirect automotive. The company produces over 2.4 million tons each year.
Dennis Braden is the Raw Materials Team Lead at North Star BlueScope Steel. He’s responsible for reporting inventory and uses the Kespry drone-based aerial intelligence platform for faster and more accurate management.
Speed and Accuracy
Drastic swings in inventory is a challenge in the materials business. Dennis was first interested in Kespry to avoid large discrepancies in inventory reporting. Before Kespry, the process was slow, manual, and inaccurate, based on a combination of measurement and estimation. Material, for example automotive shred, is being delivered and dumped by truckloads on inventory piles, so they did not have a squared off level top for easy measurement.
“Before Kespry, we would walk a pile and measure the length and width and estimate the height,” said Dennis. “The issue is that it doesn’t account for contours. If I measure a pile by hand, I have to visually square the pile off, because a pile isn’t a perfect rectangle. With the drone, it can account for the contours, that you can’t do measuring by hand. With the drones, the only variance that we don’t know is the density of the steel itself.”
Dennis explained that accuracy is important for the steel company. “When you are measuring a heavy product, like pig iron with a density of 220 pounds per cubic foot, it doesn’t take much to be far off in your calculations,” he said.
Dennis said that flying a Kespry Drone is fast and easy and provides accurate measurement of contoured stockpiles. It takes about 25 minutes for him to do a full data capture including calibration and pre-flight checks. The Google map overlay lets him easily see where everything is and he flies the operation at least every month for inventory management.
The main impact for North Star BlueScope is greater accuracy and inventory reporting. The company uses the Kespry Cloud to share data with the accounting team for control and auditing, and with the scrap procurement team for purchasing decisions.
If scrap procurement doesn’t have good data to buy and stock enough scrap, it could cause operational delays. “It’s especially important in certain grades of scrap because if procurement thinks we have more than we do, they won’t buy enough for the furnace to be able to run,” said Dennis.
Kespry enables North Star BlueScope to accurately measure inventory stockpiles and allows information to be shared with the organization for better operations management.