Any logistics professional who is currently managing the assets out in the yard using clipboards, two-ways radios, or mobile phones probably can’t conceive of this management task being enabled by flying drones.
But thanks to advances in technology, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) flying around a yard, either autonomously or with the help of a remote control, are coming sooner than one might think.
Just ask the folks at PINC Solutions, the software vendor that recently introduced PINC Air, an autonomous real-time location system (RTLS) aerial robot that can survey large areas of densely-packed assets for the purposes of inventory reconciliation or pinpointing where certain inventory is located.
PINC Air is autonomous in that it takes off and lands from the same location automatically, with obstructions in its flight path automatically detected and avoided. The drones use PINC’s RTLS capabilities and upload the RTLS and video data via wi-fi upon return to their ground stations.
Clint Reiser, research analyst with ARC Advisory Group, sees potential in combining drones with the management of yard-based assets, particularly for shippers that have expansive yard operations.
“Basically, we’re talking about the development of low-cost drones that serve as ‘readers’ in performing tours of the yard to confirm where the assets are and that those assets are, in fact, out in the yard,” he says.
Secondly, Reiser says that the same equipment can be used to track assets in heavy manufacturing facilities – where high-value assets are located outside of the four walls of the plant – and in lay-down yards where equipment is literally “thrown in piles over several acres of land.”
In each of these applications, the UAVs serve as a second set of eyes for shippers that want to gain better visibility over the activities taking place in, and the equipment located in, their yards.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com