Drones in Waste Management

We were privileged to have recently been selected to deliver a drone project feasibility study for a national waste management company who were trying to improve the safety and efficiency of their landfill operations.

Key requirements that needed to be considered:

  • To reduce pedestrian exposure to heavy, moving plant
  • To achieve more up-to-date analytics on available airspace data
  • To optimise compaction efforts through data-backed utilisation of their equipment
  • To easily compare site conditions from one survey to the next

Their existing surveying process involved contractors using traditional, ground-based methods – so sticking with the “status quo” was going to render point 1 impossible from the get-go. However, this fact alone wasn’t going to automatically lead to the deployment of a new, in-house drone programme; clearly, there needed to be economic justification to go down that route.

They knew they could resolve points 2 & 3 across their 4 initial target sites by simply scaling-up their existing method, but to reach their ideal site survey frequency, they estimated the annual cost would be in the region of £78,500 per year and that they may also need to engage new contractors to meet the increased demand.

That’s when they approached RAWview to see if we could shed some light on how the setup and deployment of an in-house drone project would compare.

Results of our study

We based our calculation on the following elements – all of which would be obtained through RAWview:

  1. Delivery of an initial 2-month Pilot project to prove the concept
  2. Supply of industry-leading surveying drone with RTK capability (DJI Phantom 4 RTK with D-RTK 2 mobile base station)
  3. Provision of specialist, cloud-based image processing and 3D analytics software with unlimited data processing and data storage facility (Skycatch Data Hub – Enterprise)
  4. Delivery of regulatory training for 2 members of staff (General Visual Line of Sight Certificate)
  5. Full system setup, end-user training and ongoing technical support

Comparing the proposed drone programme deployment against their originally proposed upscale of existing methods, we were able to confirm the following result for the initial 4 target sites:

  • Year 1 – cost saving of ~£50,000 (ROI of 175%)
  • Succeeding years – cost saving of ~£66,500 (ROI of 554%)

Conclusion

Besides the impressive cost savings, the drone programme will also meet the other key requirement of reducing human interaction with working machinery, thus having a significant, positive impact on the safety of their staff.

The result of this study is just one example of the social and economic benefits achievable from a carefully considered drone programme deployment. What’s more, in-house implementation is, contrary to what others might have you believe, well within reach for most forward-thinking enterprises.

We’re interested in using drones for surveying our sites, what should I do next?

We’d be happy to provide you with an ROI estimation for your project. Simply fill out this form and a member of our team will contact you to discuss further.

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