senseFly – Scaling New Security Heights with Fastened-Wing Drone Expertise – Drones Information


CHESEAUX-SUR-LAUSANNE, Switzerland, September 18, 2020 – Ames Construction, one of the largest family-owned general contractors in the United States, has significantly improved the safety and accuracy of its surveying at a copper mining site in Arizona thanks to innovative technology from senseFly, the world’s leading Fixed-wing drone supplier. Using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), Ames Construction can now create detailed 3D images of the pit wall surfaces – a process that would be much more difficult and time consuming using traditional topographical methods.

For this project, Ames Construction was commissioned to map the expansive construction site precisely – in particular to monitor the largest pit wall surface for movement and possible flaking or deterioration. The challenge for the team was figuring out how to capture detailed 3D images of the pit wall surfaces without temporarily stopping operations so that surveyors could access the site.

In addition to the large area that needed to be covered, the team also needed to consider the increased safety risks associated with an active mining site, such as: B. Heavy machinery and ongoing construction. In addition, the nature of the pit high wall, which reached a height of over 2,000 feet, made it unsafe and impossible to monitor on the site’s benches. Similarly, the size and lack of secure access to all parts of the high wall made it nearly impossible to use traditional scan-based surveying technology. Manual topographic surveys would simply be too dangerous and result in costly downtime.

After purchasing the eBee X fixed-wing drone from senseFly and the eMotion flight planning software, the operations team was able to efficiently control the extreme vertical changes in altitude and the high risk of the location while maintaining and improving the measurement accuracy.

During the project, each flight was completed in 2-3 hours, with the eBee X delivering an average of 45 minutes per battery. This meant that despite the extreme vertical change in elevation, strong winds and the loss of radio signals that are common at the site, mapping could be completed in a relatively short time and more regularly on a monthly basis. With the help of the flight planning software, the team was able to verify the feasibility and safety of each flight with a resolution of up to 0.8 inches / pixel and ensure that the drone battery has the required duration – critically without losing data. The high-resolution data acquisition function of the drone sensors specially developed for the eBee X, to which the Aeria X Photogrammetry Camera and senseFly S.O.D.A. The 3D mapping camera provided over 14,400 images with geotags – around 2,400 per flight – for the project, which were then processed with the Pix4D photogrammetry software.

With access to detailed contour patterns and images, the Ames Construction team was able to successfully help its mining partners better assess and implement new safety measures to alleviate concerns about the stability of high walls and to protect traffic and roads from possible falling debris. Despite the complicated and high-risk character of the mining pit, the mining plans could be revised and the floor space expanded through consistent monitoring with the eBee X fixed-wing mapping drone, whereby safety was the focus of all operations.

β€œThe implementation of a UAV program has been invaluable in shaping the mine’s safety strategy by both mapping the pit wall and tracking mining progress across the site. Not only were we able to consistently monitor a site that was historically difficult to map, but thanks to these detailed insights, we were able to protect current construction efforts and educate alternative mining techniques to improve pit wall stability and address other important safety issues, “Tanner said Richards, project engineer at Ames Construction.

β€œIn addition to special requests such as this pit wall mapping, we have achieved great success internally with the products eBee X and senseFly in order to provide all our teams with a regularly updated project schedule with which we can better manage and track ongoing work as well as complex administrative ones Overcoming hurdles that are typical of a large construction site. Thanks to improved planning, we were able, for example, to streamline the billing process, track completed work volumes more precisely, justify change orders and payment requests, reduce labor costs and increase project capacity and planning thanks to the multitude of detailed images and 3D surfaces that we now have at hand. Just a small change in the amount of material we use can make a huge difference to the total cost of the project and potentially save millions of dollars for our customers and / or ourselves. We also managed to significantly improve the time scales of the project by reducing mapping times with short flights and the long battery life of the eBee X, ”continues Richards.

Ames Construction continues to work with its client’s mining site to conduct regular scheduled UAV flights. This enables consistent monitoring of the high walls and compliance with strict security standards across the entire site.

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