Getting stockpiles surveyed for volume to complete Vista’s month-end reconciliations was a time-consuming routine. Surveyors could deliver data on the quarry’s 40 or more acres of stockpiles in about five days.
The company bought their fixed-wing UAV in 2015 to save time and surveying costs on monthly stockpile volumetrics. They quickly discovered production efficiencies can be gained by measuring stockpile volumes weekly, started laying out more efficient roads and loading floors and saving up to 30% on dryer fuel.
“Having the data in real time, or near real time, has opened up the way we think,” says Joe Drew, Vista’s director of technical services. “As we’ve brought this UAV into our arsenal of tools, it’s allowed people on the production teams to say, ‘Hey, I’d like to have data on a weekly basis or a daily basis, if you can provide it.’ And we absolutely can with the UAV. That allows them to make decisions more rapidly, which ultimately lowers our cost per ton.”