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Kespry drone solution for Wendling Quarries

Kespry drone

Industrial drone-based aerial intelligence platform transforms inventory management for US quarry operator

WENDLING Quarries, a subsidiary of Manatts Inc., are utilizing Kespry’s drone-based aerial intelligence platform throughout their aggregates operations for tracking inventory, estimating production, planning overburden management, and ensuring worker safety.

The family-owned quarrying business operates approximately 40 quarries, 11 sand pits, seven crushing plants, and eight wash plants in 13 counties throughout Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois. The company is focused on the production of crushed stone, sand and gravel, and asphalt, as well as the processing of recycled concrete and asphalt.

‘I hated the whole process of inventory,’ said Tony Manatt, owner and president of Wendling Quarries. ‘It was always inaccurate and it was always an issue to put together a team that would take care of inventory. In a couple days of surveying, we would need to measure anywhere from 100 to 200 irregular, frozen, snow-covered piles.

‘It couldn’t be done. I’m the guy that climbed those frozen stockpiles. I’m the guy that stood out on that ledge to try to hold a pole while somebody surveyed it. Bringing that much old survey information together and calculating it turned into a daunting task. I was ready for a better way.’

Prior to using Kespry, Wendling Quarries used LIDAR technology with a gyrocopter, or rented planes to fly over their quarries to provide rough inventory estimates, but accuracy was difficult, and the company realized that incorrect estimates were making a big difference in year-end profits.

‘We chose Kespry for the ease of use and to have our data in the cloud,’ continued Mr Manatt. ‘With frequent technology changes, I loved the fact that we’d lease and get technology updates along with the use of the drone for surveying.

‘I liked the ability to upgrade through a lease. I liked the simplicity of flying it and downloading data the same day, that it is iPad-based with no joystick, and especially that I didn’t have only one guy who was the only guy to know how to fly it. I want the numbers. I just want accuracy and I want it now, no matter who’s sick today.’

Paul Ross, vice-president of marketing at Kespry, said: ‘We created Kespry’s inventory-management capabilities specifically for companies like Wendling Quarries that require exacting precision when it comes to measuring and managing the material that ultimately is the lifeblood of their business.

‘Our goal is to give people like Tony a way to improve the profitability of their business with a drone solution that is dramatically more accurate, more cost-effective, and safer than what they used before.’

Wendling Quarries use Kespry across their entire cycle from pre-production to post-production. They also use Kespry for reclamation surveying when they close quarries, so they understand what they have to do to meet bonding requirements and restore the quarry after extraction.

‘Instead of sending a survey crew out to understand how much reserve we have in the bottom stone ledge at a quarry, we’ll use the drone,’ said Tony Manatt. ‘We use it on the planning side to know inventory of bank tons available. Our quarry development team can come to a meeting, pull up some survey work and know if we’ve got the ledge available to meet the sales team’s needs.’

With Kespry, Wendling Quarries are performing inventory management much more frequently than they have in the past.

‘Before, when we were using just a stick and we had to climb to the top of those piles, we wouldn’t do our inventories nearly as often,’ said Dylan Daehn, engineer at Wendling Quarries. ‘Now, we can go out and fly all our quarries once a month or once every other month. We used to only do it maybe once a year. I can survey a 100-plus acre site in less than an hour, and I’ve got all this data that is accurate down to a couple centimeters.’

Enhancing worker safety is another key benefit Wendling Quarries have enjoyed since deploying Kespry. ‘To me, one of the things that really sold me on this Kespry system is the safety aspect, because I was also one of those people climbing the piles and walking around,’ said Rob Manatt, project manager at Wendling Quarries.

‘That could be a very dangerous task. Piles might cave off, and if you slip and fall down a 40ft pile, that’s not going to be good for anybody. Eliminating that safety hazard was huge in terms of what Kespry has provided.’

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