Aggregates case study

It's a Hard Rock Life For Us, Middlesbrough


Scope of the project

At Gridmark Survey we’re comfortable in often being a smaller, but significant cog in a much larger machine so to speak.  Whilst we’re often one of the first contractors on a project, we’re rarely “front and centre” in the limelight – those prime contractors are often our clients and we’re more than happy with our “backstage” services.  Perhaps the heat of the hottest July on record has affected us but we think we may have found an unexpected kindred spirit in the world of aggregates.

An aggregate is essentially a material formed from many fragments loosely compacted together.  And whilst one mere fragment is essentially useless, when combined with thousands of others and used in the right way they form the literal foundations for where you stand or sit right now reading this.

We’ve conducted many hundreds of stockpile surveys over the years.  Many of these topographical surveys have been for earthworks companies or for prime contractors looking to understand the volumes of earth on the site so they can plan logistics in terms of how much earth needs to be moved, when it needs to be moved and where it needs to be moved to – including off site.  As you might imagine, these costs can be significant, even for a modest housing development or commercial project.  But what if the same approach could actually feed directly into your production schedule?


Aggregates Topographical Survey spec
Aggregates Topographical Survey aerial

Our aggregates client have commissioned Gridmark Survey to produce regular survey reports to :-

  • Inform production volumes and schedules
  • Assist the operations and quality team with batch control
  • Feed data directly into the finance department relating to stock

Prior to our close liaison with our client, a traditional and ad hoc approach to stockpile management was conducted – the scope of our project was to prove that we could save a significant amount of time, money and resource and increase the levels of accuracy.  Mission accepted!

Topo aggregates quote
Aggregates topo survey
Aggregates topo survey

Site and technical challenges

The site by its nature is a very open space and is near the coast, so at times there can be some significant wind speeds to contend with – so choosing our flying times carefully  is vital here.

Our survey approach relies significantly on our fixed winged drone and this presents us with two very different challenges – both in the form of neighbours of very different sorts.

The first is that we have to be extremely mindful of a controlled air space as the first neighbour is a nuclear power plant.  Our drone pilots are certified and have thousands of hours of in-field experience, but none of us want the words “National Incident” on our CV.  The Air Navigation Order 2016 strictly prohibits any form of unmanned aircraft from flying in the airspace of a nuclear power plant.  You might remember this news story from 2022 – the last thing we want is a knock at our door from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or the police so we are very mindful of our obligations here.

The second neighbour is less scary, unless you’re trying to enjoy fish and chips “to go” along the north east coast – the dreaded seagull.  A small colony of what we believe to be black headed gulls and herring gulls decided that that our drone was a threat and persistently and very aggressively dive bombed the drone during this particular visit.  But we’re happy to report that no gulls (or drones) were harmed in the production of this survey report.  We’re also not going to report on some of the nicknames that the team gave to some of the birds during the survey work!

Aggregates job spec

Points of Interest

Teesport and Haverton Hill are always fascinating environments to spend any time in conducting survey work with the juxtaposition of new and old heavy industry alongside the busy port and pockets of nature.

Aggregates quote
topo drone kit

If you have aerial survey or topographic survey requirements and believe that Gridmark Survey might be able to help you with your project then please get in touch with one of our friendly team and we can discuss your specific needs.

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