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High-Tech Inventory Management

14 YL1Stockpile Reports, an online image-based stockpile inventory management system, announced a new industry initiative called Project Acumen. The company will be working with its existing customer base, aggregates industry partners, and tech-friendly groups such as the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association’s Young Leaders to address the challenge of reducing inventory write-off risk associated with pile management practices.

David Boardman, CEO of Stockpile Reports, said, “Too often measurement technologies are built upon the assumption of the mythical stockpile. We’ve all seen it – the beautifully stacked conical pile on flat ground, free from obstructions and vegetation. You just use a simple tool to ‘click-click-click’ and magically you have a risk-free perfect volume. That’s just not the real world.“

Boardman continued, “Due to real estate constraints, environmental regulations and less-than-ideal pile management practices, the mythical stockpile is very rare in the real world. We all know some of these issues cannot be avoided. However, many can. Technologies and best practices need to be utilized to help companies automatically deal with these real-world issues while identifying, quantifying, and managing the associated risks.”

Stockpile Reports is releasing the following capabilities to jump start the initiative:

  • New patent-pending Base and Surface Confidence Scores in stockpile measurement reports. The Base Confidence score quantifies how much of the stockpile toe was visible during the measurement process. The Surface Confidence score quantifies how much of the pile’s surface was visible during the measurement process. Every score’s result is derived using algorithms that compute visibility issues related to obstructions.
  • Automated identification of issues impacting scores including vegetation, stackers, machinery, debris and snow. These details allow management and employees to jointly understand and manage specific risks impacting stockpile measurements.
  • A customer configurable Verified Stamp for report results. Reports receiving a Verified Stamp are based on risk thresholds for factors that impact the stockpile and base surfaces used to compute volumes. This will give management and employees a valuable tool to jointly, and actively manage inventory risks.
  • Enhanced company, region and site dashboards enabling senior management to actively manage company-wide risks remotely.
14 YL2Current Challenges

Industries with stockpiled products such as construction materials have the greatest challenges maintaining an accurate inventory. Material doesn’t come in neatly packaged boxes with barcodes or RFID tags. The way stockpiled material is stored generates challenges that make it difficult to consistently perform a physical inventory count. Stockpiles can be combined with other stockpiles, submerged in water, or spilling off of high walls. Obstacles such as vegetation, stackers and machinery can make it problematic to measure. To maximize inventory count, consistency and accuracy, these environmental and storage risks must be identified, quantified and managed.

Historically, corporate finance and auditors have received the results of an inventory count in a spreadsheet without assurances that risks to the count have been minimized. Based on experience performing physical inventory counts at over 1,800 locations in 21 countries, Stockpile Reports believes that these risks can impact counts by as much as 10 to 15 percent. That’s $240,000 to $500,000 per location for an average aggregates producer.

“We’ve been working for the last couple of years to develop patent-pending advanced algorithms that take the guesswork and inconsistency out of stockpile measurements,” said Dr. Brian Clipp, senior research engineer for Stockpile Reports. “Even two professional surveyors can generate significantly different results for the same complex stockpile, based on how each of them apply their best professional judgment to address unknowns and risks. Our new Base and Surface Confidence Scores leverage advanced image processing and mathematics. This ensures more consistent volumes and identification of any risks to finance and management.”

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