Drone Program Lifts Off

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2022


US Agg Drone

– Kristin Sweeney

My desire to get this program up and running was to find a way to get more information in the hands of the operations team in a way that was user friendly for them to utilize. When I first started here, we were utilizing third parties for all our drone flights and we use those for not only aerial pictures of our plants, but also to do physical inventory calculations. That is something that my past company worked to bring in house and saw not only an overall cost savings, but also an increase in the frequency of flights because we owned the drone ourselves and could do them more often. These flights are valuable information for mine planning purposes such as stripping calculations, inventory calculations, and verification. By bringing all this in-house, I don’t have to pay or schedule with a contractor to come and do the flights. We can just schedule internally and then as we move forward, we’ll be able to do all our own inventory calculations. We do them twice a year from a financial standpoint, and utilizing a contractor is a cost to the business and you don’t really have good visibility of the process and the data.

The program used in the engineering department is pretty complex, and we found great value on having the drone flight data available in a fairly simple user interface. The platform we use is Strayos, which allows our plant managers to easily go in and do volume calculations or pull up a picture of their plant. You don’t have to be technically trained or be especially skilled with computer software to be able to utilize Strayos to do these types of tasks. The visual aspect alone can be very helpful. If I’m one of the plant managers out in the field and I’m looking at how I want to reroute one of my access roads or look for a place to put material, they can just open up Strayos and look at it right on their computer and do some of that work themselves.

Right now, the program is still in its infancy, but what we’ve seen as far as inventory calculation has been very favorable. I’m looking forward to what the next steps are and really leveraging this program. This is just another example of how we’re leveraging technology here at US Aggregates to improve our business.