Coal Age

OCT-NOV 2017

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October/November 2017 31 stockpiles continued That facilitates analysis and discus- sions, and brings the mine to the office, Boardman said. "When you actually see something in 3-D, you instinctually know what other relationships and information are in that data," he said. "With augmented reality it is now possible to bring those mine models, those specific stockpile measure- ments, to life in three dimensions literally on your desk in front of you." In practice, the user selects the app, taps the Create New Measurement button, and then walks the pile in a set pattern while essentially filming it and some of the surroundings. The "extremely accurate" re- sults are generated "within minutes," the company reported. "External tests have shown" those results to be "within 1% to 2% of LiDAR." The resulting 3-D models can be projected wherever the iPhone is pointed. The app is the latest from a company that offers an array of solutions for compa- ny-wide inventory management. "Lots of times people have solutions for measuring specific stockpiles and stockpiles of a given site, but to get your financial house in order, you need to get company-wide inventory counts frequently so you can avoid finan- cial fluctuations and write-offs," Boardman said. "By leveraging image processing we're able to provide solutions that are easy to use that can be highly distributed at very low cost so companies can now standard- ize inventory processes just like they do other payroll processes and HR processes and other things where they leverage econ- omies of scale company-wide." Those solutions typically divide into two parts. The first is capturing data and per- forming measurements. That can be exe- cuted by phone or drone. For the entry level drone service pack- age, the customer schedules and the com- pany flies the drones. Results are present- ed on the website. "On the other end of the spectrum, somebody may want to buy their own drones, which is fantastic, and fly them as much as they want," Boardman said. "They may want to buy some phones, and go out to do measurements from the ground." In that case, the customer pur- chases the hardware and absorbs the costs of ownership. The second part is a platform acces- sible through an online portal for image and data processing, reporting and shar- ing. "Once all those pictures are taken and available, those are processed into volumetric measurements," Boardman said. "Then comes the next layer, which is managing your assets and managing your inventory." The platform enables finance people, GIS professionals, engineers, and leadership to manage and review manage- ment of company assets in one place, he said. By having an end-to-end solution that "addresses your large piles in a mine along with the smaller piles that might be in dis- tribution yards or in transit," he said, "you can really quickly literally get a snapshot of all of your materials across the company." That snapshot can take the form of a 3-D model that can be projected on a hallway or lunch table. Beyond that, the platform features automation and report- ing tools that draw out qualitative metrics from the data, Boardman said. "There are lots of things that impact your inventory. Is there debris around a pile? Are piles com- bined with each other. Are piles up against a high wall where a judgement call needs to be made?" he said. "Those things are scored and tagged in our service." That enables a user to "look across the company and see how many piles have issues that could be introducing risk into our inventory in terms of consistency of measurement," Boardman said. Such is- sues are identified automatically. "We're using image processing and machine learning to find piles and find surfaces so you get much more precise or much more consistent answers." The company offers what Boardman calls dispute resolution. "If somebody doesn't like or doesn't understand a num- ber that they are seeing, they can just press a button and our support staff gets on the phone and will manage that dispute that often comes up between finance and op- erations, and review that measurement, review the data and render an opinion," he said. Training is provided. "Typically, in two days, we can get a client trained to where they are out there successfully measuring with the iPhone and successfully flying a drone," Boardman said. "If for some rea- son a company hasn't done drones before and they don't have their Part 107 license, we'll actually provide some training to pre- pare them for taking that test and passing it." The company also offers 24-hour cus- tomer support. Aerotas Headquarted in Costa Mesa, California, Aerotas is breaking into the mine site Aerotas trains users on piloting measures required during an emergency event. Above, an Aerotas drone lifts off at a quarry. (Photo: Aerotas)

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