12.12.19 Jason Nichols

Midsouth Aggregates Transforms Mine Planning and Inventory Management with Kespry

Midsouth Aggregates is part of North America’s largest aggregate materials producer CRH. With granite and limestone reserves located throughout Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, Midsouth Aggregates produces a variety of aggregate products destined for the concrete, asphalt, block, and precast industries, as well as base course material, fill products and general construction aggregates. The company also supplies concrete and asphalt sand, general construction sand and gravel.

We spoke with Jerry Adkins, Senior Production Manager, about the benefits of using the Kespry aerial intelligence platform, and how it has streamlined Midsouth Aggregates’ mine planning and inventory management processes, helping make the company more efficient, productive and safer.

Tell us about the issues you wanted to address by integrating Kespry into Midsouth Aggregates’ operations.

We originally partnered with Kespry for inventory management. Kespry’s drones and software really sped up that process. Kespry gave us a consistent measuring tool, whereas in the past we’d use other vendors who would do LIDAR and ground surveys. They would come on site, do the flights and it would usually take a couple of weeks to get the data. Then we’d have a different vendor come in later in the year using a different method for measuring. With Kespry, we brought it all in house and inventory management became something we could do on a monthly basis with more consistency and control over the process. Today, we’re using Kespry on a monthly basis to fly our sites. We get real-time status of our sales yards and our pits for mine planning. It gives us a lot of flexibility.

How easy was it to get your Kespry system up and running?

We were able to pick it right up on it and use it basically right out of the box, with no formal classes or training.

What does Kespry let Midsouth Aggregates do that it couldn’t do before?

To expand on inventory management, once our monthly inventory assessments are done with Kespry, we get a report the next day that’s generated with a couple of clicks. Those reports really keep us on track, not only with our inventory, but for future production planning.

In terms of mine planning, Kespry gives us the ability to look at our pits in 2D and 3D. The volumetric tools allow us to estimate how many tons are in a forecasted shot for blasting. So, it lets us conduct short-term and long-term mine planning more effectively. As a mining engineer, I found that very useful.  Kespry is very user-friendly so we’ve been able to train our plant managers to do the same type of planning.

We really want to have our plant managers plan their blasting three-to-six months out. That really helps us with pit efficiency and gives them a sense of ownership. Kespry also helps with the budgeting process in terms of forecasting blasted tons. We also use Kespry for haul road evaluation and design. We need to make sure our haul roads meet specified gradations for maximum efficiency and Kespry lets us do this very quickly.  We can check bench elevations with a single click.

How has Kespry helped streamline your operations?

Let’s start with the inventory side. In years past, we’d fly sites with an airplane and it would take three-to-six months to get the data. The next step was ground surveying and we’d still be waiting a couple of weeks for data. With Kespry, we can do two 20-minute drone flights and get our inventory and be looking at our numbers the same afternoon.  It’s almost real-time data.

As for mine planning, Kespry lets us lay out our shots, look at blasting, and perform long-term mine planning. In the past. We’d have a mine planner doing that for us. Now, we’ve trained our plant managers to use Kespry and they’re doing a lot of that themselves. So, that’s really sped up the process and improved the overall outlook of how they manage their pits. It’s teaching the plant managers to have a long-term view of pit development.

How has Kespry helped with measurement accuracy?

Kespry eliminates a lot of the variation in measurement and makes us more consistent. We’re using the same tool every single month and measuring to the same baseline. In the pit, as far as accuracy goes, we can calculate forecasted blast tonnages in Kespry and verify this with a flight of the muck pile once the shot is on the ground.  This gives us an accurate read on our daily production. My teammates at Midsouth Aggregates partnered with Kespry to implement an innovative solution to define a baseline in our sale yards and plants.  This really improved our accuracy and other CRH operations have started doing this as well.

What are your thoughts about using the Kespry Cloud?

The Kespry Cloud has been awesome. I can look at all of our locations in one place and get fast access to all the data. It’s a really a great communication tool as well. We use it in meetings with upstream management, and contractors to show them mine plans and real-time photos.

In the past, I would have to call up the engineering department and say “Hey, I’d like to have a wall map.” Maybe in a month or two I’d get one, and then three or four months down the road, that map is outdated. With Kespry, we no longer need maps. Now, we use 60” flat-screen TVs in our conference rooms to view our most recent maps.

How does the Kespry Cross Section tool benefit Midsouth Aggregates?

The obvious is haul road design and evaluation. Just a few clicks for slope and distance.

It also makes pipe and electrical line projects much easier. Now, we can just draw lines in the application and know the distance between the points. Before, we would have to use a measuring wheel and tape.

Here’s a recent example: We were installing a pump at one of our locations and we had to run a water pipe and electrical cable for it. Our plant manager just used Kespry’s Cross Section tool to calculate the distance and length of wire and pipe we needed. Both went over a 50-foot high wall and we could easily see what needed to be done.

How has Kespry improved safety for Midsouth Aggregates?

It’s made a difference for haul road planning. Instead of trying to determine slopes on the ground during a production shift where you haul trucks are traveling, you simply click two points on a recent flyover map.  Also, we had inventory survey crews coming in before Kespry, they’d set up on the ground in our plants with front-end loaders and customer trucks moving around. So, those safety concerns have been eliminated.

Are there any other thoughts you’d like to share about Kespry?

Kespry is the best innovation I’ve encountered in my 19-year career. It really makes our lives easier. I would recommend it to anyone. Everyone I introduce it to in the company is blown away.