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Sep 19, 2019

Deep Dive: Haul Router, a New Drone-Powered Tool on TraceAir Platform

Exciting times — we have just launched Haul Router, a brand new tool on our platform! Created together with our partners from Independent Construction, this tool is the foremen's new best friend helping make data-driven decisions with regard to new or existing haul roads.
TraceAir's Haul Router, a New Drone-Powered Tool on TraceAir's Platform
Why Haul Router?

Moving dirt on a mass grading job can cost anywhere from $2.5 to $5 per cubic yard, depending on the haul road used. At the same time, converting original ground to the design grade can take a range of paths depending on sequencing, haul roads, etc. It takes at least 3 experienced field employees to design and agree on a new haul road on hilly jobs sites — and they often rely on their experience and intuition.
Image: TraceAir
Meanwhile, even a small deviation from the optimal path can cost contractors a fortune in lost margins. For example, moving just 10% of 1mil CY dirt not in an optimal way will lead to losing $250k or more.
A traditional approach to measurements on the site. Image: TraceAir
Haul Router provides the best mathematically objective hauls for each given drone scan. Any employee can use the tool to design a haul road and export the results to feed into grading equipment. Precise calculations are possible thanks to regular drone flyovers and our innovative algorithms to calculate the fastest and cheapest grading strategy.

While developing the tool, we conducted multiple in-field interviews and grading site observations to understand how haul roads were designed, and their impact. Independent Construction, the owner of one of the largest dirt moving fleets in the United States, helped us by providing feedback on prototypes and co-executing field tests. For example, in order to align the characteristics of various scraper models to their real-world performance, we measured their productivity in the field and adjusted the algorithms.
How to use

In order to create a new haul road or confirm the production rate of a current road in Haul Router:

  • Select the load and dump zone.
  • TraceAir will generate a haul road. Each color segment shows a different slope.
  • To model an existing haul road, adjust the segments of the generated haul road to match real conditions.
  • To modify the haul road drag and drop the points to the desired locations.
Benefits and Cases

There are only a few tools on the market developed with an actual grading contractor's mindset, and Haul Router is definitely one of them. We envision four key use cases, each coming with a number of benefits for the grading team.

Firstly, estimators can use Haul Router to run accurate estimations on grading costs and suggest the best prices, resulting in winning more bids with predictable margins.

In turn, grading foremen and superintendents can:

  • Quantify productivity (cy/hour moved depending on the equipment) for the existing haul roads to know the production rate in advance and allocate the equipment.
  • Design the optimal haul road while balancing cut & fill and find the fastest route on the existing terrain. The tool would suggest the safest option and highlight risky road segments.
  • Use the Pioneering feature to design the quickest and safest temporary shortcuts for haul roads, quantify the cut & fill during the process, and save personnel's time on site: 15 minutes in the trailer as opposed to hours in the field.
Future versions of Haul Router will add various grading machinery models to cover a wider scope of mass grading scenarios, as well as improve the integration of the product output with the grading equipment.
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