Boral Australia turns to drones during COVID-19

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Boral Australia has utilised new technology to overcome Covid-19 obstacles, using a distributed drone network to undertake volumetric stock measurement at its quarries

Boral used drones to measure stockpiles on each of its quarries nationally
Boral used drones to measure stockpiles on each of its quarries nationally

As part of its internal and external audit requirements, Boral must measure stockpiles on each of its quarries nationally, to account for the amount of stock on ground.

This process has historically been done using an aircraft, however, due to restrictions on interstate travel due to Covid-19, this was not possible at most sites.

To solve the problem, Boral partnered with BIRDI – a company that uses a national network of local, fully licenced drone operators to capture stockpile data from quarries and then upload it to a dedicated team of volumetric measurement specialists for processing and reporting results.

Over two days, 50 local operators surveyed 57 sites using standardised methods to capture volumetric data and provide data on the stockpiles in six states and territories.

Shane Braddy, national quarries general manager for Boral Australia, said the integration of drone operations was a cost effective way for Boral to complete the reporting and comply with the strict safety regulations during Covid-19.

"Recent advancements in capture technology and mapping software have resulted in increased accuracy for the purposes of volumetric assessments," Braddy says.

"By leveraging this improved technology, we have been able to improve efficiency and reduce costs".

The CEO of BIRDI, Sebastian Robertson, says that in the current environment, it is important for any business to review every step of its operation to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved.

"Safety was the number one priority and was carefully considered in every step of the process," Robertson says.

"It was great to work with Boral and demonstrate the national reach and responsiveness of our network. The turnaround was swift and the collaborative nature of the engagement meant that output needs were clear from the start."

Braddy says that by engaging BIRDI’s distributed network of more than 1,800 local operators, Boral was also able to support local employment across the country.

"Boral has always remained committed to supporting the local communities in which we operate," he adds.

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