3DR your inbox

Sign up for the 3DR Lift newsletter for the latest stories, product updates, and more

Stockpile measurements are a vital part of any project, but they can be time-consuming, costly, and manually climbing up aggregates can put workers in harm’s way. Contractors shouldn’t have to choose between accurate volume data and a safe, efficient projects, and now they don’t have to: drones are proving their value on-site as a safer, more efficient way to measure stockpiles and seamlessly integrate with existing workflows.

If you’re thinking about using drones to measure stockpiles on your next job, here’s what to expect:

1. Saved time on site

Volume measurement from imagery
Site Scan volume measurement of a customer job site

Drones make volume measurement as simple as the press of a button: automated, pre-programmed flights can capture lengths, areas, and volumes in just minutes. Once you set your flight path, you can re-fly that same flight without any manual piloting, saving time and labor. In fact, drones helped a large aggregate company that sells asphalt and readymix cement cut their field data collection time by 96%.

Drones helped a large aggregate company that sells asphalt and readymix cement cut their field data collection time by 96%.

2. Lower data collection costs

Point cloud of stockpile
Cost-effective volume data can be imported directly into ReCap 360 Pro

Aerial data capture has also proved to be the most cost-effective approach to monitor stockpiles and aggregates. McKim & Creed, a leading surveying and engineering firm in the US, used drones for landfill surveys on a 60-acre site and found they were 10%-20% cheaper than traditional ground surveying, 30–40% cheaper than aerial photogrammetry, and 40–50% cheaper than LiDAR. While costs change depending on the size of the site, drone solutions consistently prove to be more cost-effective than traditional methods.

3. Accurate data

Accuracy comparison


Every drone scan creates millions of datapoints that are used to create a surface model of each stockpile. Our customers have found that drone solutions like Site Scan offer comparable accuracy to both traditional and LiDAR measurements. Typically, our drone data comes within 95% accuracy of a laser scanner — learn more about measuring accuracy for volume measurements here.

4. Immediate cloud processing and Autodesk integration

Calculating aggregate volume with 3DR Site Scan and Autodesk ReMake

It’s not enough to just capture the data — tools like Site Scan make it easy to process it directly in the cloud, and export as an RCS/RCM into Autodesk tools like ReMake and Civil 3D. This is a simple workflow compared to laser scanners, for example, which require first transferring the data into ReCap, manually calibrating it, and then exporting as an RCM into ReMake.