Whether we’re talking about aggregate or construction companies that comprise a handful of sites or ones that stretch across the world, inventory management is a priority. New tools like drones have made a major impact around expectations and logistics of that inventory management, but traditional methods like aerials are just as important of a consideration in this new ecosystem.

Stockpile Reports is an image-based stockpile inventory management system powered by a scalable, cloud-based platform for those small and large companies alike. Whether that means utilizing planes, drones or phones, being able to employ the right tool for the right job is something they’re focused on, and that concept is one we’ve explored in detail. Drones and phones obviously represent an entirely new and in many cases welcome approach to inventory management, but it’s important to understand they are only tools, and as such have their limitations.

“We're finding that people who have bought drones are creating the same bottleneck resource challenge they've always had,” explained Stockpile Reports CEO David Boardman. “They have 1-2 people in the company that can do this activity and they're in high demand because they need measurements all the time. It’s why we took the time to look at the aerial service piece in a very inquisitive way.”

That inquisitive approach ultimately led to the creation of their new Airplane Aerial Service which is designed to re-invent aerials gathered from a plane by taking out the cost and time. What used to take weeks to schedule, process and analyze now takes 10-15 minutes of going back and forth over a web portal with results in 24 hours. All of that is relevant info for operational management members, the finance team and everyone else in an organization. The manner in which that data was captured is the least of anyone’s concern.

tonnage-growth“It’s become less of a question of, 'how did you get this?' for everyone is involved,” Boardman mentioned. “It's about being able to get and use extremely accurate imagery, regardless of whether that's from an airplane or drone. By giving companies the ability to have both, they’re able to really get going with solving their inventory problems without having to wait to get their Part 107 certificate.”

The service is about giving organizations options. There are users who have started with airplanes and have plans to move to drones over time, as well as companies that might be waiting to get everything moving under Part 107. Both are able to quickly and easily use Airplane Aerial Service to take care of inventory management.

Drones have been presented and positioned as being able to solve an infinite number of issues, as their impact to safety and accuracy cannot be overstated. After using a drone many companies want to do their counts more often because there's such a business benefit. However, just like you wouldn’t use a shovel to dig out the foundation for a building, using a single drone to handle inventory that spans hundreds of sites isn’t realistic. That’s where and how airplane aerials are still part of the conversation, even as some have tried to move away from them.

“Some people have such a negative correlation with aerials because of past experiences,” Boardman said. “When we mention airplanes they immediately talk about how they've done aerials and wanted to do something else because they thought aerials were too expensive and slow. It's been a fun negative pushback to work through, because clients are eventually able to see how aerials are now so much cheaper and so much faster. Users like the fact that they can use this to accelerate drone deployments, and even to make a real impact in terms of efficiency. It's very real to be able to do an inventory of 100 locations in 2-3 days.”

usage-growthAs proof of the kind of speed we’re talking about, the company’s record for most sites measured by a single UAV pilot in one day is 8, while the most sites measured by a single plane in one day is 24. Plane, drone or phone options mean that users can determine what approach is going to work best for their project, and as the charts to the right showcase, more and more people are taking advantage of these options.

Exactly how drones can or should be used by new and experienced professionals is an ongoing topic of debate, but Airplane Aerial Service from Stockpile Reports is proof that the conversation shouldn’t be about drones replacing anything. Drones will fit specific needs in the same way that planes, phones and new tools and approaches will. What’s important is to ensure whatever tool is chosen is going to be the right fit for the right circumstance.