Connecticut Drone Survey – New technology in an old industry
Connecticut equipment dealer uses new technology in an old industry.
Ace Equipment Sales, Inc. of Willington, Connecticut has embraced drone technology in a big
way. Information gathered from drones is being used in new plant design, plant remodeling,
reclamation projects, stockpile reviews, purchase decisions and permitting applications for
customers in New England and New York. Ace Equipment’s employees needed to obtain FAA
certification to fly drones commercially.
Like other people, Ace Equipment initially used drones for taking interesting photographs and
video of equipment, sites and blasts. There is a lot to be gained from aerial photographs and
videos. Operators know the value of photographic information when going before a zoning
board or other regulatory bodies. Drones are also excellent tools for videotaping crushing and
sorting operations to solve problems such as issues with transfer points.
Ace Equipment has used Autodesk’s Inventor Software Environment to design equipment and
crushing plants for years. Flying a drone for photographs is just the first step in gathering
valuable information to help with crushing plant design and installations. Finding a way to
merge the virtual equipment from their Inventor Software Environment with a 3D point cloud of a
specific customer site would be a game changer. Robert Campbell, Ace Equipment’s Project
Manager and designer, figured that information gained from drone photography could be the
answer they were looking for. “Sites are never perfectly flat, perfectly square, and without
obstructions” said Campbell. “When designing a custom crushing and screening plant, the
correct work area and site topography are so critical to designing a true to life workable plant.”
Once the drone flight is completed, the real magic happens. Using a technique known as
photogrammetry, the drone’s photographs are used to create topographic surveys of job sites.
CJ Knight, who is head of sales, says “Rather than relying on expensive aerial LiDAR or time
consuming terrestrial surveys, flying a drone over your site allows us to rapidly and
inexpensively build accurate digital elevation models or point clouds.” Going one step further,
Ace Equipment uses a RTK-GPS Unit. (Real Time Kinematics) – (Global Positioning Satellite).
This RTK-GPS unit provides a precisely fixed ground reference station to reduce and remove
common positioning errors. Once everything is merged together, the result is a three
dimensional virtual representation of the mine site property where all sorts of information can be
generated and utilized
Knight was enthusiastic about how drones help operators. “We use drones to generate 3D
models of construction sites, quarries and structures. These maps help obtain the ‘big picture’
and assist in strategic decision making. We can model your site and equipment layout for future
upgrades or changes. We can even show you the finished project before you start!”
From this information, one can see how the new plant, including stockpiles, haul roads,
generators, control booths are going to fit on your site.
From there, the software can generate a scaled three-dimensional visual proof of concept of the
site. Questions like “Is it going to fit? How much material can I store? What size conveyors?
How much site work do I need to do? “ can be answered quickly, efficiently and correctly. And
customers get to see their plants and study them in a virtual site before making a large
investment in plant and site development.
Virtual, Accurate Information with Real World Coordinates. Quarry landscapes are ever-
changing so scanning these sites quickly and efficiently gives better, more timely information,
for planning, management, and reporting purposes. The collected data can be used to plan
operations such as the positioning of mining equipment, blast surveying, stockpile inspection
and the re-routing of access roads
Quarry owners are also concerned about the quantity of the material being blasted and the
stockpile volumes. Most quarries are also required to perform a reclamation of the property after
the gravel or stone has been removed. Drone flight photography linked to the proper software
can create day of flight information and comparative information from flight to flight for in-house
documentation and regulatory reports. The operator can verify how much stone is going out and
how much fill is coming in.
In todays world, the thirst for more information is endless, Ace Equipment Sales has taken the
next step to create a virtual environment which can provide that information needed to make
better decisions for a more profitable company.
For over 45 years Ace Equipment Sales located in Willington Ct. has been serving the
Aggregate Crushing & Recycling Industries throughout the New England and New York. From
plant design to custom manufactured parts, we got you covered!