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Wendling Quarries Banks on Drone-Based Aerial Intelligence


Drone-based aerial intelligence solution provider Kespry announced Wendling Quarries, a subsidiary of Manatts Inc., is using Kespry throughout its aggregates operations to ensure inventory accuracy and reserves, so it can meet its customer needs precisely and predictably. 

Wendling Quarries' operations include 13 counties throughout eastern Iowa and western Illinois. The family-owned business operates approximately 40 quarries, 11 sandpits, seven crushing plants, and eight wash plants in its service area. The company is focused on the production of crushed stone, sand, gravel, and asphalt mix, and processing of recycled concrete and asphalt.

"I hated the whole process of inventory," said Tony Manatt, owner and president, Wendling Quarries. "It was always inaccurate, and it was always an issue to put together a team that would take care of inventory. In a couple days of surveying, we would need to measure anywhere from 100 to 200 irregular, frozen, snow-covered piles. It couldn't be done. I'm the guy that climbed those frozen stockpiles. I'm the guy that stood out on that ledge to try to hold a pole while somebody surveyed it. Bringing that much old survey information together and calculating it turned into a daunting task. I was ready for a better way."

Prior to using Kespry, Wendling Quarries used LIDAR technology with a gyrocopter, or rented planes to fly over quarries to provide rough inventory estimates. But accuracy was difficult, and the company realized that incorrect estimates were making a big difference in year-end profits.

"We chose Kespry for the ease of use and to have our data in the cloud," said Manatt. "With frequent technology changes, I loved the fact that we'd lease and get technology updates along with the use of the drone for surveying. I liked the ability to upgrade through a lease. I liked the simplicity of flying it and downloading data the same day, and that it is iPad-based with no joystick. And especially that I didn't have only one guy who was the only guy to know how to fly it. I want the numbers. I just want accuracy and I want it now, no matter who's sick today."

"We created Kespry's inventory management capabilities specifically for companies like Wendling Quarries that require exacting precision when it comes to measuring and managing the material that ultimately is the lifeblood of their business," said Paul Ross, vice-president of marketing, Kespry. "Our goal is to give people like Tony a way to improve the profitability of their business with a drone solution that is dramatically more accurate, more cost-effective, and safer than what they used before."

Wendling Quarries uses Kespry across its entire cycle from pre-production to post-production. It also uses Kespry for reclamation surveying when it closes quarries, so it understands what it has to do to meet bonding requirements and restore the quarry after mining.

"Instead of sending a survey crew out to understand how much reserve we have in the bottom stone ledge at a quarry, we'll use the drone," said  Manatt. "We use it on the planning side to know inventory of bank tons available. Our quarry development team can come to a meeting, pull up some survey work and know if we've got the ledge available to meet the salespeople's needs."

With Kespry, Wendling Quarries is performing inventory management much more frequently than it has before.

"Before, when we were using just a stick, and we had to climb to the top of those piles, we wouldn't do our inventories nearly as often," said Dylan Daehn, engineer, Wendling Quarries. "Now, we can go out and fly over all our quarries once a month or once every other month. We used to only maybe do it once a year. I can survey a 100-plus acre site in less than an hour, and I've got all this data that is accurate down to a couple centimeters."

Enhancing worker safety is another key benefit Wendling Quarries is enjoying since deploying Kespry.

"To me, one of the things that really sold me on this Kespry system is the safety aspect, because I was also one of those people climbing the piles and walking around," said Rob Manatt, project manager, Wendling Quarries. "That could be a very dangerous task. Piles might cave off, or if you slip and fall down a 40-ft. pile, that's not going to be good for anybody. Eliminating that safety hazard was huge in terms of what Kespry has provided."

To learn more, visit www.kespry.com/mining.