Coal Age

OCT-NOV 2017

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October/November 2017 29 stockpiles continued party like ourselves to do the process; sort of do one on their behalf and let them watch. Then we let them do one and we train and correct," he said. "And then let them do one on their own and we play the role of consultant advisor should there be problems." For a customer without the FAA certificate and minimal previous ex- perience, "they are going to get to the finish line, meaning they are going to get a report they could use much more efficiently, by going through this hand-holding process as they get up the learning curve," he said. Propeller Aero Propeller Aero's cloud software offering, the Propeller Site Intelligence Platform, is flexible, fast, accurate, and offers an ar- ray of "intuitive tools that allow everyone from the pit supervisor to the head office to gain insight and take action," Rory San Miguel, CEO, said. It "processes drone data into 3-D models that can then be used to obtain accurate stockpile volumes, cross sections, grades, heights and distances, at a fraction of the time and cost of tradition- al ground surveys." The company recently partnered with civil engineering software firm Trimble, and opened North American headquarters in Denver, Colorado. Those developments reflect an expansion that is building on, among other things, 20 years of experience in the mining and aggregates sector. It is that experience that enables the company to understand the needs of customers in that space, San Miguel said. "Many com- petitors in this space were built as a one- size-fits-all solution, with little experience or interest in daily coal mine operations," he said. "On a mine you need to have spe- cific tools to achieve site intelligence." Those tools go beyond simply deter- mining stockpile volumes. "Propeller has created tools that specifically help coal mines determine run-of-mine values, pit volumes, monthly reconciliations and more," San Miguel said. For example, the software's volume tools allow the user to measure depending on requirements. The Smart Volume tool enables automatic volume calculation. The Reference Level Volume tool allows volumes to be calcu- lated to a predetermined level. The Sur- face-to-Surface Volume tool enables a user to measure to a design, underlying surface or previous survey. "Propeller's Platform integrates ton- nage and density calculators directly into the stockpile volume tool," San Mi- guel said. It also enables the user to view changes in stockpile volumes as a cross section. "In this case, Propeller reads the recorded height samples from various dis- tinct datasets along a line that you have drawn, and renders the results on an inter- active chart," he said. The platform enables the user to pair a 2-D photo alongside the 3-D model, San Miguel said. "Propeller's viewer automati- cally chooses the closest photo to the area of the model that the miner is inspecting," he said. "The survey information comple- ments the inspection process, providing another layer of information on which miners can make decisions." Easy file sharing and reporting are among the platform's primary features. The 3-D model can be shared by con- figuring permission settings and issuing invitations to view or edit. It allows anno- tations to be exported in PDF and Excel spreadsheet format, San Miguel said. "The Excel report includes the volume, cut and fill value, density, and tonnage measure- ments taken from each stockpile, so that mines can easily manage reconciliations and run-of-mine calculations," he said. "The PDF report includes all of the above information as well as a 3-D and 2-D im- age of the annotation for easy inspection." The platform can be packaged with DJI drones and Aeropoints ground control points for "a true end-to-end solution," San Miguel said. It can also be adopted by a company that has already invested in drones. "Our platform integrates with any drone or ground control solution, allowing for easy adjustments," he said. "Some of our competitors don't allow their customers this flexibility, forcing them to risk their drone survey operations on the performance of a single provider for the drone, flight planning, and processing." Use of the platform as part of a drone- based stockpile volumetrics solution is faster than traditional aircraft surveying and can be more accurate than manual surveying. "While ground-based surveys capture just one point every 2 to 3 meters (m), an average stockpile surface within the Propeller platform is modeled using tens of thousands of points," San Miguel said. "The result is more precise 3-D sur- face models for higher accuracy volume calculations, safer and faster than before." Recently, a coal miner tapped the company to determine the amount of coal being lost to the tires, tracks and general traffic going over an exposed seam. "Using our surface to surface tools, they are now implementing daily surveys to establish the volume of coal each day that has been removed from the area," San Miguel said. "We were able to prove to the site that they could clearly see a change between surveys down to +/- 0.03 m." That was achieved by capturing a surface, running a grader over an area and making a .05-m cut, and cap- turing the surface again. "Using our pro- cessing and volume compare tools, they could visually see and accurately measure the area that had changed." The company provides training on- line and on-site. "Propeller also employs The Propeller Site Intelligence Platform features tools that facilitate determination of volumetrics, run-of-mine values, pit volumes and monthly reconciliations. (Image: Propeller Aero)

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