February 6, 2019
Updated November 21, 2019
Our clients often ask whether it is too cold, snowy, etc. to measure a stockpile with our iPhone app or a drone. Read on for all the answers to your winter-related stockpile measurement and management questions.
Yes! You certainly can measure stockpile inventory in the snow. However, here are a few factors to consider before measuring.
Complete Snow Cover – Just because you can measure a snow-covered stockpile using an iPhone or drone, this doesn’t mean you should. Regardless of what service or software you use, stockpile measurements with cameras will assume the topmost material is the top of the pile surface. If there is only an inch or two of snow, the impact on the pile volume will be minimal. Several inches or more of snow cover will add significant volume to the pile measurement and it is advised to wait for the snow to melt prior to measuring.
Snow Drifts – Snow drifts against the side of a stockpile have the same impact as complete snow cover. If the snowdrift is small in relation to the total volume of the pile, the overall impact will be minimal. However, you will still be adding extra material to the total. Remove as much of the snowdrift as possible with a loader prior to the measurement for the most accurate result.
Safety – Measuring stockpiles with our iPhone app presents additional hazards when ice is present on the ground. When ice is present on your site, we recommend having a second person walk ahead of you and spot potential fall hazards. Also, ice can form within the stockpile causing the surface of the pile to be hard-packed and difficult to walk on.
Allot More Time – Everything takes more time when the temperature is close to freezing. You may be used to flying your site with one battery, however, cold temperatures can severely shorten battery life. A battery’s flight time can be cut in half in sub-freezing temperatures.
Poor road conditions in the winter have the potential to extend travel times between sites. The impact of shorter winter daylight and longer drive times means measuring inventory may take additional days. We suggest using our pilots to fly for you, helping you measure your inventory quicker without having to fight against poor weather and road conditions.
Electronics and freezing temperatures don’t mix well. Over the past 7 years, we have learned the best tips for handling drones, iPhones, and tablets in the cold temperatures.
Keep Your Batteries Warm – Nothing is worse than setting up your drone for your measurement to find out that the battery is too cold and the drone won’t take off. The key here is to keep your battery warm as long as possible prior to flight. Place your batteries on the floorboard of your vehicle with the heat on high. If you don’t have a vehicle with you, keep your battery tucked under your jacket until you are ready to fly.
Keep Electrons Flowing – Anyone who has tried using an iPhone in freezing temperatures has seen their phone spontaneously turn off even when there is plenty of battery life left on the device. There is an easy solution to prevent this no matter how cold it gets outside: connect your iPhone to an external battery charger. We don’t know the exact science behind why this works, however, we’ve used iPhones for hours in the low teens without the phone turning off.
Know Your Weather – Be extra mindful of the weather during winter when flying a drone. Moist, cold temperatures form fast-moving freezing fog. The weather may be clear at take-off, however, fog can move into your area over a short time period. The icing on your propellers from freezing fog will quickly decrease your lift and increase drag causing the aircraft to quickly descend to the ground.
Stockpile Reports is here to help during winter months. We have built a full solution that gives you the flexibility to measure using the right tool for the job. Using your own drone or iPhone during spring, summer, and fall might make the most sense. Winter is more challenging and it is a great time to try our network of pilots who are trained on how to fly drones in cold temperatures.
We have flight bundles that start as low as $250 a flight. If you feel you could use the help, need a vacation, or want to skip winter challenges altogether, let us know how we can help.Purchase Flight Bundle
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