About an hour south of Louisville, Kentucky, in Bardstown, sits the headquarters of Haydon Materials, an aggregates and paving operations company. Family-owned, it began its first iteration in 1952. They specialize in bituminous asphalt production and lay down, along with crushed limestone.
Haydon Materials is using Trimble Stratus, powered by Propeller. Trimble, the global leader in positioning technologies, was an early partner of Propeller. Our teams work closely together to deliver Trimble Stratus survey-grade drone data solutions for the heavy civil industries.
Seeking a better way to manage inventory for four quarries, Haydon turned to Propeller to process data and model their sites in 3D, while bringing their drone surveying in house. JB Haydon, an equipment manager, oversees the drone surveying and data collection.
Third-party surveyors don’t know your site like you do
Previously, they hired a third-party surveyor to gather site data for inventory tracking. While mostly satisfied with this arrangement, it did introduce new problems.
“When you have a third party do all your stockpile inventory, the third party doesn’t know your operation nearly as well as you do,” said Haydon.
This is especially important when a stockpile was on an uneven base. While Haydon’s team knew the floor wasn’t flat, a third party didn’t “They’re just going to go ahead and click those points on the floor, and it’s going to create that plane,” he noted. When they started surveying their stock themselves, this problem was immediately eliminated.
Further, using the Propeller Platform to capture these nuances resulted in big stock recoveries. “We actually started picking out some tons that had been wiped off the board.” he said.
Propeller brings better control over end-of-month reconciliation and reporting
Surveying by drone themselves affords Haydon Materials more control over end-of-month reporting and scheduling. After flying and processing his data with Propeller, Haydon does some formatting and sends it to the company’s accounting department.
“They can put in production and take out sales,” he said. “That’s huge, because anytime we do inventory after the end of the month, it’s a lot harder for the accounting team. [Propeller] helps us keep an even tighter inventory.”
Propeller PPK is “a whole lot quicker and more efficient”
Since January, Haydon has been using DJI’s Phantom 4 RTK drone as part of Propeller PPK to survey his sites. “It’s awesome. It’s so convenient,” he said “I still use two ground control points because I have the full set from the old workflow, where you had to set down 10 AeroPoints.”
Propeller PPK easily cuts his in-field surveying time in half. But more than time-savings, Haydon is quick to point out the safety benefits in an aggregates environment.
“Only having one or two AeroPoints [is good], whereas before you’d have to put those 10 down in somewhat of a hazardous area. It’s also a whole lot quicker and more efficient,” he noted.
Stockpile inventory and progress tracking tools used most
While they use of the Propeller Platform mostly for end-of-month tasks, Haydon and his team use multiple in-platform tools to track, map, and measure their quarries.
“We use probably 85% of the program for stockpile inventory, and then the rest we do pre and post stripping surveys,” said Haydon.
Typically, they’ll fly an area before and after a contractor moves overburden. This lets them measure how many yards of material were moved. “[Sometimes] we’ll compare if they’re using a different software. So far, everything’s been lined up, even with different software, so it’s proven Propeller is accurate,” he said.
The visuals captured in a drone flyover aid mine and quarry planning too. “We’ll fly an entire site, put a layout on it, and show our operations managers how to approach the mine and which direction to go,” he explained.
This is better than looking at your site in Google Earth because it’s up to date. “If you’re going to do a mine plan, I don’t even really know how can do it without using some type of aerial survey with a drone.”
On active quarries, measuring and comparing cross-sections over time happens frequently. “We use that to check if we’ve improved a road or if we want to draw a quick line across a stockpile to see how it’s changed,” said Haydon. “Or draw a quick line across the area that we moved overburden.”
Frequent site photos make troubleshooting safety hazards easy
One big benefit of using Propeller on site is safety. “When you’re doing your survey, you’re getting a really great view of your site, so you can see potential hazards and flag them before they even happen,” said Haydon.
Recently, Haydon Materials’ sites have experienced a lot of rain. One site had a lot of sitting overburden. After flying it, “we could see a crack forming in it from all the water where it could have slid off, which would be a major safety issue,” he explained. By being able to spot this issue, Haydon was able to mitigate it before it became a problem.
Propeller’s ease of use and “outstanding” customer support is big benefit
When it comes to using the drone to survey and the Propeller Platform to manage his quarries, Haydon said neither are hard to learn.
While he had experience using drones previously, he’s “also trained people within Haydon Materials who’ve had zero experience and they caught on quickly. It’s pretty straightforward and user-friendly.”
But it’s Propeller’s customer support that takes the cake. “If you have an issue, nine out of 10 times, [they’ve] already gotten ahold of me and asked [about it],” Haydon said. “If I have any questions, [they] are always right there within an hour or two to help me out. The customer service is outstanding.”
“I do recommend Propeller”
When asked how he’d describe Propeller, Haydon had a few words: “Accurate. User-friendly. It’s pretty simple and straightforward, but at the same time you can do a whole lot of things with it.”
Haydon Materials uses Trimble Stratus powered by Propeller.