Stockpile analysis or the volumetric calculation of loose materials is nothing new. Indeed, the mining and aggregate industries have long found accounting for resources such as coal and gravel essential in their day-to-day operations. The construction industry has similarly found fill volumes to be critical prior to building. However, traditional processes require extensive time, equipment, and personnel -- frequently leading to production delays or missed deadlines. With the commercialization of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), these workflow constraints have been drastically reduced.
How accurate are drones surveys for volumetric measurement of stockpiles?
Numerous studies have compared results and in virtually every case the conclusion is that drones can achieve nearly identical results as Lidar surveys and are unmatched in terms of efficiency. One comparative study from Pix4D can be found here.
In traditional stockpile analysis, either terrestrial laser scanners (TLS) are assembled at key points or mobile laser scanners (MLS) are attached to vehicles and aircraft. Both methods require teams of surveyors traversing gradually between often widely distributed locations. The project sites themselves can be inaccessible and even hazardous due to flooding, rockfall, and landslides. On the other hand, UAVs or drones flourish in these generally secluded environments as there are fewer people to consider.
As demonstrated by a mining operation in Chile, a 1 km2 stockpile would typically require 3-4 people working an entire day to analyze with MLS. With an UAV, a single person can usually perform this data collection in 1 hour with a birds eye view of the stockpile and complete the entire volumetric analysis in 3 hours. Reducing time spent in the field not only leads to faster delivery of results, but minimizes personnel risk as well. The data can additionally be displayed in numerous 2D/3D formats (e.g. point clouds, elevation maps, density maps) up to par with any industry standard.
While efficient, stockpile volumes obtained by drones must certainly be effective as well. As verified by satellites and laser scanners, volumes calculated by leading UAV service providers possess centimeter or sub-percentage precision.
Feel free to contact DroneView Technologies for rapid, reliable volumetric stockpile measurement results every time.