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Drone Solutions Enable More Efficient Land and Mill Monitoring

Drone Solutions

You’ve probably seen kids, hobbyists and amateur photographers using drone technology for fun, but drone solutions have a great deal more potential than an afternoon’s worth of entertainment. These small, unmanned aerial vehicles are useful for a wide range of applications, from logistics to manufacturing.

Domtar’s Ashdown mill uses two DJI Phantom 4 Pro Drones to aid in its forestry operations[/caption]

For example, e-commerce giant Amazon is currently testing Amazon Prime Air, which will deliver packages to customers via drones. Although it sounds like something from a science fiction movie, the idea has captured the imagination of the media, consumers and corporate executives.

At Domtar, we recently started using drone solutions at our Ashdown Mill in Arkansas.

Our Ashdown Mill uses drone solutions to complete critical forestry tasks, such as monitoring the health of our forests and measuring wood chip piles. Find out how drones help us work quickly, safely and efficiently.

Domtar’s Ashdown Mill uses two DJI Phantom 4 Pro Drones to aid in its forestry operations.[/caption]

Doug Teale is the sustainability manager at the Ashdown Mill, which produces uncoated paper and premium fluff pulp used in products such as diapers. Teale first learned about drone solutions at a 2015 forestry conference, and he knew immediately that drones could make Domtar’s work faster, safer and more efficient.

“The use of drones is absolutely the biggest advance I’ve seen in this business in a long time,” says Teale. “They improve our efficiency and the accuracy of our calculations, they save us time, and they keep all of our foresters safer. The impact has been tremendous, so we’re excited to share best practices with others across the Domtar network and potentially expand the use of drones throughout other facilities.”

Here are three ways drone solutions are changing forestry.

1. Drone Solutions Monitor Forest Health

Ashdown Mill began using drones 2016. Today, Domtar colleagues use two drones to monitor local forests for diseased trees or invasive species. The ips beetle, also known as the engraver beetle, is a common pest that can burrow under bark and tunnel through pine and spruce trees, causing severe damage. Using drone solutions, foresters can quickly check for infestations. What used to take half a day is now accomplished in just 20 minutes.

Flying above the forest canopy, drones can easily spot disease and infestations, like this damage done by the ips beetle.[/caption]

2. Drone Solutions Measure Wood Chip Piles

Drones also improve the speed and accuracy of inventory calculations at Ashdown Mill. Our mills produce massive wood chip piles, which eventually become paper or a range of personal care products. Previously, survey crews required half a day or longer to measure chip piles for volume. Now, drones take photos of the piles, and those photos are downloaded to a computer and analyzed. The process takes just 30 minutes and is exceptionally accurate.