View all newsletters
Receive our newsletter - data, insights and analysis delivered to you

PwC Hails “Groundbreaking Potential” of Drone Audit

"It was a classic example of new technology challenging the old”

By CBR Staff Writer

Professional services giant PwC has conducted its first stock audit using a drone, in a move it believes can rapidly cut audit times, reduce risk and prevent downtime.

A drone developed by UK-based QuestUAV was used in the audit of coal supplies for one of the UK’s last remaining coal-fired power stations. It was conducted on behalf of German utility RWE by PwC, which employs over 250,000 people.

Its successful execution looks set to open the doors to much wider deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in such stock audits, with PwC saying: “Based on our results, the potential is groundbreaking”.

PwC Drone Audit: 99% Accurate

Using a drone, PwC collected over 300 images of the coal reserve which were then stitched together using the photogrammetry process (the science of making measurements from photographs) to determine matching data points.

The drone captured c.900 data points per cubic meters giving the data an accuracy of 2cm, PwC said, adding that the value of the coal was then calculated to within 99+% accuracy based on that volume measurement.

UK-Built Drone

The drone used by PwC. Credit: PwC

The traditional method to measure coal piles involves manually moving across the coal with two metre GPS tracking poles. This process take four hours while the drone can do the task in half an hour.

The manual method also poses a significant risk for workers as parts of the coal pile can slide during the measurement. Machines working on the coal reserve also need to be shut down during a manual audit, but as the drone is not on the actual coal pile it allows work to continue without disruption.

Content from our partners
GenAI cybersecurity: "A super-human analyst, with a brain the size of a planet."
Cloud, AI, and cyber security – highlights from DTX Manchester
Infosecurity Europe 2024: Rethink the power of infosecurity

“Powerful New Perspective”

Elaine Whyte UK drones leader at PwC said in a release: “This trial with RWE is the first time PwC has used drones for audit stock count purposes. It demonstrates the powerful new perspective that we believe drones can offer for businesses across a wide variety of industries.”

“Sectors with large assets in hard to reach areas are the most obvious starting points for expanding this kind of work further – from mining to agriculture and forestry.”

The drone used in the audit was a QuestUAV DATAhawk ppk mapping drone.

The fixed wing drone has a max speed of 100 Kph and can maintain flight for 45 minutes. The drone has a take-off weight of 2150g and can be hand-launched, or deployed from an air dock launch system.

PwC used the data gathered by the drone to create a digital twin of the coal reserve which the audit team could then view and interact with via PwC’s geospatial application which visualises the mine inventory.

pwc drone audit

Digital Twin of Coal Reserve
Image Source: PwC

The data gathered from the drone survey mapping of the coal reserve will allow RWE to efficiently plan and monitor its site in Aberthaw which spans over 200 hectares.

See Also: Rio Tinto Deploys Worlds First Autonomous Train Haulage System

Richard French, audit partner at PwC, commented: “While the traditional method remains reliable and will still be used for RWE’s formal year-end financial statements, the drone trial was conducted to explore ways of challenging the traditional method of stock counting. It was a classic example of new technology challenging the old – and based on our results, the potential is groundbreaking.”

Topics in this article : , , , , ,
Websites in our network
Select and enter your corporate email address Tech Monitor's research, insight and analysis examines the frontiers of digital transformation to help tech leaders navigate the future. Our Changelog newsletter delivers our best work to your inbox every week.
  • CIO
  • CTO
  • CISO
  • CSO
  • CFO
  • CDO
  • CEO
  • Architect Founder
  • MD
  • Director
  • Manager
  • Other
Visit our privacy policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.
THANK YOU