Wendling Quarries flying high in corn country
Wendling Quarries has lots of applications for its drones.
By Andrew Snook
Headquartered in Dewitt, Iowa, Wendling Quarries is a very active aggregate producer in the U.S. Midwest.
The company owns approximately 100 quarries and sandpits with about 60 of the sites active at one time. The company employs about 225 people during its busiest seasons.
Keeping track of the company’s vast inventory across its aggregate sites was extremely time consuming and a strain on its resources, so Wendling Quarries decided to look into using drones to help manage its operations.
“The reason we got looking at drones is that is was really popular in the agricultural space, and we’re in the middle of ag country,” says Rob Manatt, project manager at Wendling Quarries. “When we started out we saw it as an inventory tool.”
To find a drone solution that suited the company’s operations, Wendling Quarries contacted Kespry to hear about its solutions. The company preferred the idea of working with a service provider that specializes in drone solutions and offers leasing of the equipment over hiring someone to do be company’s “drone expert.”
“The situation we didn’t want to get into was having to hire someone that’s a drone expert who builds and maintains the drone and manages the data,” Manatt explains. “With leasing the drone if something goes wrong, within 24 hours we’ve got another one heading our way.”
When Wendling Quarries first started working with Kespry they needed to lay down ground targets to take accurate measurements – and it worked well – but once the drone provider came out with its Kespry 2.0 solution, it spiked the aggregate producer’s interest in the tool.
“Once we didn’t have to lay down the ground points we were all-in,” Manatt says.
Safety at sites for surveyors has improved significantly since the company adapted Kespry’s technologies at its sites.
“Now we come into the sites, set up a base point somewhere and get out of the way,” Manatt says, adding that there is far less chance of injuries to occur now from walking on piles, loose piles and overhanging materials. “We can be in and out in an hour.”
Wendling Quarries started using Kespry’s drone solutions in 2016, and over time the company has expanded its applications of the technology to include site planning for ensuring accurate payments to contractors hired for dirt moving operations; as well as other useful applications.
“We were putting a new sump pump into a quarry to pump water and we used the Kespry drone to map out a new pipeline,” Manatt says. “We also used it to design a new haul road. I just see the use of it expanding with the new toolkit.”
Manatt says he likes how he can use the new Kespry toolkit to track equipment movements and get more accurate volume counts.
Wendling Quarries also uses Kespry’s services for collecting site data used for reporting to various mining-related government agencies and for tax purposes as land is being restored to its natural state, which is for agricultural purposes in most cases.
“For tax purposes we can show what land should be taxed commercial or agricultural,” Manatt explains, since the drones can be used to capture real-time images of the state of each parcel of land. “This saves us money as well.”
Kespry product marketing manager Jason Nichols says that with the unlimited flights option and the company’s versatile software offers producers like Wendling Quarries a great return on its investment in the services.
“We want to encourage people in this business from accountants to mine planners to use the software,” he says.
With all the applications that Wendling Quarries is using Kespry drone solutions for, do they feel the investment was worth the cost? You certainly don’t have to ask Rob Manatt twice.
“We’re going on our fourth year with Kespry. Is it worth it? Yeah, it’s worth it,” Manatt says.
KESPRY UNVEILS NEW TOOLKIT
Kespry recently announced its new Site Planning Toolkit designed to increase site profitability, productivity, and safety at the 2019 World of Asphalt/AGG1, which took place this past February in Indianapolis.
The new toolkit enables site owners, engineers, and operators to drive decisions faster than ever. Customers can also create, track, and analyze the progress of earthworks, extraction, and safety work in their sites—all continuously updated via an autonomous drone flight with data delivered in as little as two hours.
For more information on the toolkit, visit www.kespry.com.