PwC UK has completed a stock count audit using a drone, in what is a global first for the network.
The move was made as part of a wider push to embrace new technologies in a bid to improve audit quality and efficiency to transform the audit process.
The drone, manufactured and operated by UK drone company QuestUAV, was used to capture over 300 images of the coal reserve at Aberthaw, South Wales.
The images from the drone were used to create a point cloud ‘digital twin’ of the coal pile in order to measure its volume which allowed the team to calculate to within over 99% accuracy based on that volume measurement.
Hemione Hudson, head of assurance at PwC, thinks the drone used in this way is an example of how emerging technology can help industry in the future.
She said: “Technology is an enabler for positive change and this drone-assisted stock count is an illustration of how we are using technology to enhance audit quality and efficiency. It’s just one example of the benefits that come from bringing our technologists from across PwC together with our auditors.”
She added: “Drones are just one of a number of technologies that could improve audit quality in different ways across different sectors. But maximising the benefits of emerging technologies is reliant on having the right people with the skills to interpret the resulting data. We are constantly investing in attracting the best people into our business and training them in new technologies to ensure our audit quality continues to improve.”
The main objective of the flight was to assess the accuracy, efficiency and logistical benefits of using drones when compared to traditional surveying methods.
Initial findings from the project concluded that a drone reduced the time taken to manually traverse the coal pile by 85%.
It also captured c.900 data points per cubic metre, obtaining overall accuracy levels of 2cm and improvement compared to c.1,200 readings taken across the whole site using the traditional method.
Elaine Whyte, UK drones leader at PwC, said: “This trial 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.”
She continued: “Our recent economic report, showed that drones have the potential to not only improve UK productivity, but also offer significant net cost savings for businesses to the tune of £16bn by 2030. In this case, drones have allowed us to trial a more efficient service which has the potential to save both money and time, while allowing us to deliver greater insight too. There is also a clear health and safety benefit to using drones for this type of work, without someone having to climb over the coal pile.”
Taken from the first copy of the magazine, read CDP’s in-depth report on the PwC’s drone industry growth prediction here.