In this interview, AZoM speaks to David Boardman, CEO of Stockpile Reports, about the stockpile report system by Binmaster that allows user to efficiently accurately measure inventories.
How can industrial stockpile monitoring be simplified using technology?
Companies that find conventional processes of inventory management problematic can simplify their process using technology.
Conventional management of stockpiled resources takes a lot of manual time, is expensive and is ultimately unreliable. The use of web-based stockpiling platforms can vastly improve upon conventional processes, allowing for the precise measurement of both the weight and volume of free-standing or bunkered stockpiles. This facilitates regular monitoring of stockpile levels, improving efficiency.
BinMaster provides a SaaS subscription service, Stockpile Reports, which can be used to automate stockpile evaluations, which saves time whilst also reducing human error, helping to avoid problems with inventory such as write-offs.
How does Stockpile Reports work?
Stockpile Reports can be operated by any imaging system, making it highly versatile. Images can be captured via a drone, a plane or even an iPhone. These images are then uploaded via an easy to use app and processed in the cloud. This data is then accessible to everyone involved through a web portal, bringing stockpile management up to Industry 4.0 standards.
The data provided by Stockpile Reports goes beyond dense spreadsheets and also includes the captured images or video, and processed data such as the weight, volume and calculated risk for stockpile deterioration.
As the system is located entirely online there is no need for the user to have any specialized hardware and the system can be scaled to manage small stockpiles, from 5 piles upwards, to an entire corporations stock, with 500 piles maximum.
What information does Stockpile Reports provide?
The dashboard for Stockpile Reports can be accessed by any authorized user, either on a desktop system or on their mobile, allowing data to be efficiently shared throughout the entire company. In addition, reports can be generated on a regular basis; whether this is daily, weekly or monthly.
The data provided is rich, going beyond simple volumes, and can be used to determine risks to the stockpile such as standing water, snow, debris or vegetation. The system can also alert users to factors that could adversely impact the accuracy of measurement such as obstructions by equipment.
Stockpile Reports provides a map of each stockpiling site, with the location of each pile clearly indicated. To find out information about a specific pile, users can interact directly with the map and click on each pile to see its statistics. When a new pile is created users can be alerted, and alerts can also be set for unverified readings and inventory requests.
In addition to the map, data on piles can also be accessed via a conventional read out which can be grouped according to pile type, pile number or when the pile was last measured. Piles which must be measured soon, i.e. call outs, can also be highlighted. All of this data can be accessed via the system, or it can be exported to an Excel file for inputting into other company systems.
What are the advantages of collecting data using Stockpile Reports?
The data collection method used by Stockpile Reports ensures that companies can take accurate measurements of high repeatability on a regular basis. This allows businesses to be well informed and make the best inventory decisions, such as pricing and ordering, possible.
Manual methods of taking stockpile inventories are slow and cumbersome, and often require a long time to be spent inputting data into spreadsheets, following the initial data collection step. This can be problematic as human error can result in inaccuracies and the process takes a huge amount of time.
Following measurement of the pile communication must then take place via emails, meetings and other forms of file swapping – all of which takes up the time and energy of employees.
Stockpile Reports eliminates a lot of this wasted time by automatically placing all of the data in one centralized cloud. This means that whoever needs to use the data can have access to it whenever they would like, without the need to ask permission or to wait to receive the files from the employee who made the measurements. This means regional managers or accountants can simply log in from their office to access the data, and do not need to chase employees who may be working on another site, or possibly even in an another country.
One of BinMaster’s customers explained the benefits of using Stockpile Reports to us as, “When we need to evaluate an issue at a site, we can all go on the website and see a large amount of data and all the month-to-month changes. Any issues are resolved much quicker. This is invaluable to us”
What different systems can be used to take stockpile measurements?
Stockpile Reports uses images of the stockpile being measured to provide data on its weight and volume. These images can even be taken from an iPhone; meaning expensive imaging equipment is not necessary. Currently, Stockpile Reports is the only management system that allows this.
iPhone measurements are easy to carry out. All this is needed is the placement of two 18” orange cones 25’ apart from each other. Following placement of the cones users need only open the app, press the record button and, whilst pointing the camera at the pile, walk around it. The use of the iPhone is perfect for resource-tight companies with less than 4,000 cubic yards of inventory.
In addition to using an iPhone, drone imaging is also possible. Companies can also use their own drones and their own pilots, or Stockpile Reports can send one of their own licensed drone pilots to carry out periodic stock surveying.
Stockpile Reports drone service is very popular with companies spread across multiple sites, whether it is regional, national, or international, that must take large scale stockpile inventories. The drones are instructed to fly through the same flight path each time to ensure that every pile is measured and that the data from each flight can be compared with previous flights.
How accurate is the data provided by Stockpile Reports?
The data provided by Stockpile Reports cannot be adjusted or impacted by human users, meaning it heavily reduces the possibility of human error.
The imaging system used also identifies other factors which could adversely impact the accuracy of measurement such as debris, obstructions, standing water or now, and accounts for these. A confidence score is given which indicates how well the images were captured and to ensure that the pile toe and surface were imaged. If potential issues are indicated then the pile can be flagged for re-measurement.
Can the data from Stockpile Reports be used for auditing?
Yes of course, financial management can access the data, in an audit-ready format, gathered by Stockpile Reports. This means external auditors will not waste your employee’s time chasing them for old reports or important documentation. Auditors can even be given temporary access to the portal itself, meaning they can independently find the answers to their inventory questions.
These auditing reports are purely made from captured data, meaning they contain no employee bias and are entirely factual. This means companies can be confident in the data they submit to auditors and show that they have stringent policies and procedures for the measurement of stockpiles and the collection of any other supporting evidence that may be required.
One CEO who has been using Stockpile Reports summarized the benefits the system has delivered to this companies auditing process,
“I can’t tell you how much time it has saved us as auditors reviewed our year-end accounts. We would spend countless hours in January and February tracking down missing information and sending people to sites to gather info. Having consistent month-to-month data made for one really happy corporate finance team.”
How much time can Stockpile Reports save?
Companies using Stockpile Reports report saving a huge volume of time when taking inventory. Dependent on the number of sites which a company has to measure this time saving can amount to a huge 95% - a huge efficiency saving.
This time is saved throughout the entire process. Less time is required to schedule inventories, traveling to the inventory site (in the case of drone imaging) and less time is required to make the on-site measurements themselves. In addition, the time required to make the following back office calculations is also significantly reduced – this includes processing the data, making the reports and then sharing the data with other colleagues manually, such as by email or intranet.
Arguably the platform’s most important time-savings are those that save the previous time of management and accounting. Allowing informed sign off decisions to be made easily, and saving the time-consuming and arduous task of preparing reports for auditing.
Can Stockpile Reports be used to measure piles with irregular shapes?
The image taking process used by Stockpile Reports can be modified for the accurate measurement of irregularly shaped piles, for example a pile, which has been dumped over a wall, which cannot be fully walked around. The walking pattern used can be easily adjusted via the iPhone app allowing the accurate and confident measurement of an odd-shaped pile.
Some storage facilities have to store their stockpiles against walls or in bunkers – these materials can still be measured using the Stockpile Reports iPhone app. All that is required to take such a measurement is an image of the front surface of the material in the bunker. Stockpile Reports takes the dimensions of the bunker into account and performs a measurement to determine the volume and weight of the material in the bunker.
Stockpile Reports can also be used to determine that a delivery of material is at the correct weight as ordered, or to take measurements halfway through a large construction projects. All that is required to take a measurement is a walk around the pile whilst using the Stockpile Reports app and the weight of the delivery can be determined. This allows users to confirm the size of the delivery before paying an invoice for the materials.
What are the other benefits of using Stockpile Reports?
Aside from savings in time and efficiency stockpile reports can provide a myriad of other benefits. In the area of human resources, these include improvements in employee safety, as there is no requirement for employees to walk on stockpiles, and no need to schedule survey crews.
The benefits to stock management are clear. Stockpiles and their measurements can be overlaid on Google Maps to provide a clear, data-rich image of the companies’ stock levels. This data has been processed automatically, removing the human error in manual weight to volume calculations, meaning that the cubic yard inventory unit prices provided are of a high accuracy.
This reporting provides great efficiency benefits in terms of accounting, cost allocating, performance management and the reduced need for adjustments to inventories. By verifying the exact levels of inventory present there is also a reduced chance of making purchase orders for more stock, which in reality the company does not actually need – this, of course, also helps to minimize waste.
The public image benefits of efficient stock management should also not be ignored. Having clean, orderly stockpiles means that your sites are not messy. Making them safer places to be, and less of an eyesore for the public.
What can Stockpile Reports be used to measure?
Stockpile Reports is incredibly versatile and can be used to measure all kinds of different stockpiled materials.
This includes materials used in construction such as concrete, ready-mixed concrete, and cement. In addition the system is highly useful to those working in the mining industries with the ability to be used in applications such as salt mining, open rock quarries, mining pits and the mining of metals and minerals.
Companies involved in large-scale agriculture can benefit from the accurate evaluation of grain pile size, making sure that grain is effectively distributed and does not spoil before it can be used.
Other application areas, which would benefit highly from the use of Stockpile Reports include the storage of frac sand, the storage of materials used for landscaping, and industries involved in mulch manufacturing or that use portable crushing.
State institutions that stockpile materials for construction or power generation, such as departments for transportation, and county or country governments, can also benefit from having an accurate and rapid method of determining their stockpile methods, with the ability to share easily share this data with all concerned parties.
Where can our readers find out more about Stockpile Reports?
If you would like to find out more about Stockpile Reports and how it can reduce the manual labor required to measure stockpile inventory, improve employee health and safety, and make invoicing, reporting and auditing faster and simpler then please visit the BinMaster website.
We are currently running a $99 trial for the monitoring of five piles using Stockpile Reports to demonstrate to companies just how easy it is to implement, and the huge amount of benefits it can deliver to your business.
Alternatively, should you have any specific questions about Stockpile reports please feel free to reach out to BinMaster directly and we will be more than happy to help you find the solution to your problems.
About David Boardman
David Boardman drives the overall strategic vision and 3D product definition for URC Ventures with Stockpile Reports as the first commercial venture. He brings over 18 years of software innovation and global application and deployment experience in the technology sector as a seasoned entrepreneur and Fortune 100 executive. David led the strategic vision and product strategy for big data analytics and Wi-Fi content management services companies. In 2003, he launched the Mobile Media Consortium to develop ground breaking research for real-world mobile applications. David Boardman sits on the Board of Directors for Open Perception, focused on advancing the development and adoption of BSD-licensed open source software for 2D and 3D processing of sensory data. David leads the team with a no-nonsense, real-world experience management style. David was famously quoted as forecasting widespread digitization:
"Within 10 years every square centimeter of an aggregates operation will be modeled accurately in 3D and tracked every minute of every day."
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited (T/A) AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and Conditions of use of this website.