Drones, a fascinating new tool for an old trade: A new way to count inventory!

Summit Brick had a need to capture their Pueblo, CO stockpiles for their bi-annual inventory and asset management assessment

When repeat client & President Mike Leidich saw us fire up our drone, he immediately saw the potential for using UAV’s as a business tool. As a masonry manufacturer, he knew a birds-eye-view would allow him to see the land he works with from a new perspective. In April 2018 Mike and his team contacted 1UP and discovered drone modeling where they quickly realized that instead of simply giving Summit Brick ‘pretty’ pictures and videos, 1UP could help them with a new brick manufacturing business tool; 1UP drones could serve as an essential inventory/stockpile management, and GIS tool. 1UP was contracted to measure the volume measurements of 42 stockpiles which proved to be an extremely fast, accurate and cost-effective method to complete a full inventory analysis of the Summit Brick, Pueblo, CO manufacturing plant.

use drones to count inventory

What once took days, only took hours!

On May 5th we took off on our flights capturing all 31 acres in less than 1 hour.  With data in hand, we began processing the ~400 images which took roughly 12 hours of processing power in our cloud applications.  After initially reviewing the data for quality and accuracy we were ready to meet with Mike to guide us through our initial findings and fine tune the models with adjustments.

Drones in Denver 3D Modeling

An example of how it works:

Because Mike and his team walk the grounds daily, he helped us with the base-plane options available for volume calculation, (Lowest Point and Best Fit).  Best Fit defines the base-plane following the average fall from points in our map area. Lowest Point calculates a flat base-plane taking into account the point with the lowest elevation in our map. This option is more suited to calculate the volume of stockpiles on flat ground with walls or neighboring piles easily.

Once the initial review was complete and a few minor modifications were made, 1UP was ready to deliver the final report. This was completed just 10 days after they initially contacted 1UP for services.

When Mike was asked “how accurate were the aerial drone models compared to the historical method of measurement?”  He said, “we believe they were within 5%, which is ‘accurate enough’ for our use in understanding our materials today.”  1UP user tests have found that when following our recommended best practices with Ground Control Points, volume measurements are more precise and can provide accuracy within 1-2% of traditional ground-based laser measurements.  (GCP’s were not used in the Summit Brick project due to relative accuracy being “good enough” and the added time and cost of absolute accuracy.)

Drone modeling saves time and money by streamlining the site survey process for brick manufacturers, quarry owners, land developers, and other large land mass managers. It also helps manufacturers create ortho-realistic plans and allows clients like the Summit Brick Company to better conceptualize projects.

Historically Summit Brick may have used less accurate “boots on the ground” measurements, costly fixed wing aircraft, stale “Google Earth” images or expensive surveys that they typically had to schedule months in advance. With 1UP Aerial Drone Services the project was completed in 10 days at a 50% reduction in cost.