It is amazing how fast certain people can estimate the volume of a stockpile.  We aren’t talking about armchair quarterbacks here.  These are folks who wear the sole off a nice pair of leather work boots in a single year.  They can glance at a pile between sips of hot coffee and tell you the tonnage.  They are calm, collected and confident.  Their numbers are pretty good although the accountant is uneasy and wants something more repeatable and accurate.  It’s understandable given that piles can be worth millions and their volume critical to plant operations.

The volume of a pile is often calculated by taking several width and height measurements and recording the results on paper.  The amount of guess work and number of measurements depends on how irregular the shape.  The repeatability is normally acceptable but it can be difficult to achieve good accuracy if the pile has a lot of peaks and valleys.

Common Stockpiles:  Wood chips, coal, aggregate, logs

There are a number of methods available to calculate volume.  For example, high accuracy GPS, traditional survey equipment, or a Cessna 172 and aerial camera are all common.  However, there are pluses and minuses to each method.  Some are very accurate but time consuming, often with a higher risk of injury.  Others are expensive and weather dependent.  UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) are highly capable but there is restricted use and FAA paperwork to contend with.

Of all the methods, the Laser Technology (LTI) solution is the simplest and most cost effective way to measure volume.  It allows one person to gather the necessary data quickly, safely and accurately.

Chris Childers is the fiber supply manager at Ponderay Newsprint in Usk, WA.  He had this to say about the LTI volume solution that he recently adopted.

“I have found the MapSmart software very easy to use and extremely accurate for measuring my wood chip piles. Even when the piles are misshapen, the software will calculate volumes well within 10% of my book volume.”

LTI Volume Solution:

–TruPulse 360 laser rangefinder

–MapSmart + Volume software

–Handheld datalogger with range pole assembly








Another common configuration of the LTI volume solution is to use the LTI TruAngle (pictured below) which yields highly precise XYZ data.  The TruAngle turns a horizontal angle based on a reference point and is not subject to magnetic interference.  The results are impressive, although it takes extra time in comparison to the TruPulse 360 which has an internal magnetic compass.


Frontier Precision has a 30-year plus track record of helping you provide a measure of excellence. It all ladders back to our core philosophy of How You Measure Matters. It’s why each day, we seamlessly connect the physical and digital worlds through technology to improve how we all better interact with the earth in meaningful ways. Our tools and solutions make you more efficient, productive, and most importantly, profitable.


Frontier Precision knows that every measurement its customers take is important. It’s why Frontier Precision not only offers the latest, cutting-edge measurement tools, but also understand the continuing need for service and support — because How You Measure Matters encompasses the total customer experience.

Professional Services

From Geospatial Services to GIS Professional Services to Water Resources Data Acquisition Services, Frontier Precision delivers leading-edge measurement technology. We’ve been there, every centimeter of the way, as geospatial technology has evolved. No matter what your need for accurate measurement, we have the experience and expertise to create a customized solution for you.


Training & Events

We give you the proper training on the solutions we sell. Sign up for Professional Certified Training to get up and running quickly — all backed by the most experience in the industry. Whether onsite, online or in the classroom, we are helping make our customers efficient, productive, and profitable with today’ s and tomorrow’s technology.


Frontier Precision provides world-class support from centers across a wide section of the western United States. Need support for any geospacial products, software or services?

Contact Frontier Precision at 800-359-3703.

About Frontier Precision

Frontier Precision’s measure of excellence can be traced back to 1988. Four years later, in 1991, Frontier Precision partnered with Trimble — a United States-based GPS equipment manufacturer at the time, and the rest is history. Since then, Frontier Precision has grown with Trimble to be one their largest and best geospatial distributors in the world.

We’ve been at the frontier of technology for three decades, continually offering customers new tools and solutions, all with our end goal in mind to help make our customers efficient, productive, and profitable with today’s and tomorrow’s technology. Frontier Precision is an employee-owned company — each of our team members is committed to your success.

Contact Frontier Precision


From our original office in Bismarck, North Dakota, we’ve grown our footprint thousands of miles in every direction.Today, you’ll also find us in South Dakota, Minnesota, Colorado, Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Hawaii, Wyoming, Oregon and Washington — delivering the Frontier Precision difference to more people each day.