Stockpile Volume Calculations Using Drone Data
Understanding conventional surveying techniques
Using traditional ground-based surveying methods to calculate the volume of a stockpile means a surveyor must take their equipment on site and capture the coordinates and elevation of multiple points—around the base of the stockpile, on top of the stockpile, and along all of the breaklines.
Once these points have been captured, the surveyor can go back to their desk and generate a surface model. This model is compared against previous survey data, or a baseline surface or a virtual reference plane, to calculate volume changes.
Measuring all the stockpiles in a large stockyard using this method can take days to complete. The surveyor is generally exposed to hazardous conditions (walking near heavy equipment, climbing up unstable stockpile surfaces, etc.) and it’s often necessary to halt operations while surveying work is in progress.
The alternative: Using drones / UAV
The more points that are captured, the more accurate a surface model will be - and a drone can capture thousands more points than a surveyor using traditional methods, in a fraction of the time.
As an added benefit, using a drone means nobody needs to scramble up and down a stockpile, and site operations can continue uninterrupted.
By stitching together geotagged drone photos with high overlap, captured from multiple angles, Drones allows users to generate very dense 3D point clouds. While ground-based surveys capture just one point every 2–3 meters, an average stockpile surface within the Drone platform is modeled using tens of thousands of points.
The result is more precise 3D surface models for higher accuracy volume calculations, safer and faster than before.
Below you can see images of one of the drones, 3D models and stockpile calculation being carried out on sharp sand.