Drone Automation Used for Inventory Management

TUESDAY, JUNE 27, 2023

A spinoff from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has recently introduced a new automation workflow to monitor stockpile inventory using robotics and artificial intelligence. According to reports, Tinamu is “transforming” building material inventory management by enabling early identification and resolution of discrepancies.

Traditional stockpile volume measurement is said to be prone to errors and take time, while keeping accurate and up-to-date inventory records of materials can prove to be a daily challenge. Solutions such as weighbridges, conveyer scales and draft surveys also have their own limitations.

As a result, inventory recency and confidence can be low, leading to logistic and operations inefficiencies. However, Tinamu says that its AI-powered autonomous drone system captures high-resolution images of stockpiles to analyze data and deliver precise volumetric measurements in a matter of hours.

Using autonomous drone navigation, cloud-based and AI-driven data processing, the technology reportedly offers a user-friendly platform to deliver periodic volume measurements of stockpiles with below-centimeter precision.

As the drones gather data, it is uploaded to the cloud, processed with AI and then returned to the user within a few hours through a web interface dashboard. These interfaces reportedly enable tracking of changes in material distribution and analysis of inventory trends over time.

Additionally, they provide detailed inventory data for each stockpile that’s been surveyed, enhancing monitoring and logistics planning and maximizing warehouse utilization.

Earlier this year, in May, Tinamu announced a partnership with European drone manufacture Parrot to integrate the Parrot ANAFI Ai drone into Tinamu’s indoor-monitoring solutions. 

"Automating drones is the future for scaling professional drone usage, being able to achieve this for indoor locations is a truly complex challenge, and Tinamu has developed a very innovative software solution for this,” said Chris Roberts VP and Chief Sales & Marketing Officer of Parrot.

“Using the Parrot ANAFI Ai indoors demonstrates its full intelligent robotic potential and opens up and deepens new types of services and activities for enterprise.”

The Parrot ANAFI Ai reportedly comes with technical specifications that are adapted to the high requirements of Tinamu for repetitive and automated indoor-monitoring drone flights. The 4G connectivity ensures indoor missions, removing the need for line-of-sight.

Parrot adds that the obstacle avoidance also guarantees a safe flight during inventory monitoring. Furthermore, the Parrot offers Tinamu the ability to upload their custom autonomous missions to the ANAFI Ai open software platform.

“Using drones in warehouses without a pilot requires a cutting-edge software that can run on state-of-the-art drones. We feel very much aligned with Parrot’s vision and quest for perfection.  We share the same passion for reliability, precision, and technology,” said Tobias Nägeli, CEO of Tinamu.

“Leveraging the ANAFI AI drone capabilities, we will make our services even better, faster, safer, and more accurate, improving our customers experience.”

More recently, last week, ETH Zurich announced the spin-off company has secured capital in a pre-series A financing round of 1 million Swiss Francs (about $1.1 million) to speed up growth and development. Previously focusing on the countries Switzerland, Belgium and France, the spin-off is reportedly now expanding its activities to other locations.

“This is an exciting moment for our team. We are seeing an increasing number of clients benefiting from our services, which validates the innovative technology we have developed,” said Nägeli in the announcement.

“Considering the significant potential for geographical and industrial expansion, we are planning a Series A funding round to support our upcoming global growth.”

Construction Industry Tech

According to a study from automation solution Yooz in May, the construction industry ranks the lowest in technology competence among surveyed industries. The study regarding technology in the workplace also reported that half of U.S. workers under the age of 25 associate their industry’s adoption of technology to their prospects of career advancement.

The report surveyed 600 U.S. professionals with a minimum salary of $50,000 who worked in 10 fields, asking them to describe their experiences and perceptions of workplace technology this year. Key findings from the survey include:

  • 50% of workers under 25 agreed with the statement “the way my industry views adopting new technology is a barrier to my career advancement,” compared to 30% of workers 25 and older;
  • Younger employees tend to be the first to embrace new technologies at work, with 32% of salaried workers under 25 saying they are “among the first to experiment with and use them,” compared to 22% of workers 35 and older;
  • More than two-thirds of younger workers say they spend most of their work lives using workplace technologies—and nearly all (91%) agree that these technologies help them do their jobs better;
  • 30% of respondents cited “slow or outdated hardware or software” as the No. 1 technological barrier to efficiency at work, followed by lack of training (24%) and poor Internet connectivity or reliability (24%);
  • Respondents were asked to rank 10 industries based on their perceived technological proficiency. While the software industry topped the list, the industry that ranked lowest in perceived technology competence was construction, with the restaurant and automotive industries ranking just above it; and
  • Across all age groups, respondents urged employers to embrace new technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and automation technology.

Last year, in October, the Associated Builders and Contractors released its second annual construction technology report, highlighting case studies on specific technologies and innovative practices.

The various technologies and practices noted in the report have been reportedly used by ABC member contractors to strengthen their value proposition. The document also includes data from a safety technology survey taken by ABC contractors.

The Association notes that the 2022 Tech Report is developed by the ABC Tech Alliance, a consortium of firms that create construction technology and innovative solutions for ABC contractor members, the majority of which primarily perform work in the industrial and commercial sectors.

Some technologies and innovative practices by ABC contractors found in the report included robotics, drones, analytics software, project bidding software, total human health app and safety QR codes and data sheets.

The report also includes insights regarding reality capture, glass and window systems, safety monitoring, payroll and timesheet software, as well as building information modeling and project management tools, among others. A full copy of the report and case studies can be viewed here.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Building materials; Business management; Business operations; Coating Materials; Construction; Drones; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Good Technical Practice; Latin America; North America; Program/Project Management; Quality Control; Raw materials; Robotics; Technology; Tools & Equipment - Commercial; Z-Continents

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