In senseFly’s latest case study, we learn how French quarry operator, Groupe CB, turned to drone data analytics expert Redbird (recently acquired by Airware) to provide accurate, cloud-based geospatial data across nine of its sites.
This new, aerial approach led to:
- A major improvement in on-site safety
- A five-fold reduction in survey costs
- And an increase in the depth of Groupe CB’s topographic data
The crucial work of Groupe CB’s surveying teams is to survey stockpiles at each of the company’s quarries and to monitor the height of each quarry’s walls to ensure compliance with local safety regulations. Traditionally, this would be achieved by surveyors traversing these sites with terrestrial GPS equipment in order to measure the required X, Y, Z data. However this approach was a dangerous undertaking for these staff.
Traditionally, surveyors would traverse these sites with terrestrial GPS equipment in order to measure the required X, Y, Z data. However this approach was a dangerous undertaking
Prior to Redbird and drone technology being employed, Groupe CB’s topographers would typically only conduct a full survey of each site once or twice per year. “Our topographers were walking around on-site and taking their measurements manually, with GPS instruments. This was a long, dangerous and expensive process,” says Vincent Amossé, the Deputy CEO of Groupe CB’s Aggregates Division. “Now these staff no longer need to go on site as Redbird can monitor its nine quarries—safely, from remote take-off and landing locations—simultaneously, on the same day every month. It’s a progressive approach. We say that together we are building the future of quarry monitoring.”
To survey each of these quarries, located across France, Redbird employs professional, independent senseFly eBee drone operators—members of its growing international network. “These contractors fly each quarry on the same day each month, using the same flight plan within the drone’s eMotion ground station software,” explains Emmanuel de Maistre, the CEO and co-founder of Redbird. “These operators then upload the drone’s images to the Redbird cloud solution [previously called Cardinal], where they are processed into full 3D point clouds, digital surface models, slope maps and orthomosaics of each site.”
As per Redbird’s contract with Groupe CB, the data from each monthly drone survey must be fully accessible online a mere 24 hours later.
This approach provides fast data recovery and therefore incredible time savings
“This approach provides fast data recovery and therefore incredible time savings,” Amossé says. “Before working with Redbird we needed about five days to recover stockpile data. Today, once the drone has flown over a quarry, I’ll get the data the next morning. A site manager can then log in to the Redbird solution to access all the data they need, such as stockpile volumes and material types. Then we check these against production and sales to understand exactly what product has gone out, as well as to determine an exact stock value.”
“Today with UAVs,” he continues, “you need less manpower because you get data from the sky. And it is available as actionable data directly in the Redbird solution 24 hours later—and not only for one site but for all nine sites! We get a lot more points per square metre with the drones and therefore achieve a far greater reliability, both of the quarry surveys and stockpile volumes. The data Redbird supplies is
Our projects carried out using UAVs are five times cheaper than those done using traditional survey methods
From a cost perspective, Amossé says the drone difference is equally remarkable. “Our projects carried out using UAVs are five times cheaper than those done using traditional survey methods. It’s as easy as child’s play for us and it is radically changing our way of working.”