One of the most frequent problems that the agricultural industry presents is quantifying its volumes of grains or raw materials stored in warehouses or silos.

Raw materials inventory

Sometimes to calculate the inventory of raw materials, different factors and tools are used for this raw materials inventory account process. Beginning raw materials inventory must first be established to have a correct count of any raw materials.

First laser scan of a raw materials inventory
One time measurement

Comparison of the first and second laser scan of the inventory of raw materials
First and second measurement comparison

In these moments, the best option to properly manage raw materials inventory is to have a balance sheet on the computer with some raw materials inventory formula to calculate raw materials inventory.

Raw material inventory management doesn't have to be a headache. 3D laser scanning technology can obtain faster counting results for your direct raw materials. However, applying this process to direct and indirect materials is possible.

The 3D laser scanning process in inventories

As we mentioned before, this laser scanning process can be applied mainly for direct materials and thus be able to maintain a supply safety stock. Even so, accounting for indirect raw materials is good practice anywhere since they are not necessary for production; they can represent an essential item in operational actions.

To determine the raw materials inventory value and cost of goods sold, we must have all our inventory well accounted for. We will analyze what we must consider to be able to scan your inventory well.

Some of the most critical factors are:


One of the factors over which we have the most control since with proper maintenance and calibration by the supplier or the instrumentation area, we can maintain an exact measurement of material inputs and outputs. Another factor that can influence the issue of scales is the correct measurement and registration of cargo vehicles with their tare weight or empty box before being loaded. 


It is the most challenging factor in measuring due to changes in its condition over time influenced by storage type and temperature. Moisture refers to the amount of water inside the material and in the empty spaces of the mound. Humidity can vary due to temperatures and storage conditions, whether in warehouses, silos, bunkers, or outdoors. Most of the time, materials lose their humidity as time goes by, and depending on their storage method, they lose it faster in some than in others. 

Material compaction

This factor refers to the relationship of voids existing in the different levels of the material measured from its floor to the top, proportional to the column above it. That is, the material below has a lower void ratio than the above since the column of material is larger and compacts the material more, which causes a variation in volume and air space at different levels.

First 3d laser scan of a silo.
One time measurement of silo

First and second comparative laser scan of the silo
First and second measurement comparison of silo


Volume is the most critical factor that has affected inventory measurements for many years. However, the uncertainty that this can cause has been almost eliminated, thanks to the evolution of technology. 

The big problem to quantify is the complexity of the so-called organic shapes, whose absence of exact geometric shapes makes it difficult to represent them faithfully through traditional methods such as tape, distance meters, or even total stations. 

These differences cause a significant deviation between what is recorded in the accounting books against what is recorded by production, which causes significant "losses" of material that must be adjusted in the financial statements that are presented each month and frequently accumulate in an accounting account that will surely have to remove at the end of each year or growing season. 

Note that the deviations found can also be caused by factors such as incorrect calibration of scales, wrong determination of specific weight, or worse still, due to theft or excess waste in the production process.

Currently, 3D laser scanning combined with the computational power required to manage large databases allows us to capture the natural and precise current conditions of these forms, reaching the accuracy of the quantified volumes in more than 99%, which allows for reducing deviations between the finance and production departments.

Typically, in our first exercise with the grain storage companies, we find essential deviations between their physical inventory and their accounting books due to the deviations accumulated month after month. However, as of the second measurement, having a real and detailed surface from the first measurement when comparing it against the real and detailed surface of the second measurement, the deviations compared against the variations or movements (inputs and outputs of material) from the date of the first measurement to the date of the second measurement are reduced to less than 1%.

Using the SLAM algorithm in mobile scanners combined with the portability of increasingly smaller measuring equipment allows us to walk the material and obtain accurate data very quickly, avoiding the inconvenience to the customer of lengthy stoppages in production, reception of material, and warehouse filling. This type of solution works very well in auditing issues by generating certainty and convincing evidence of the location and form of accommodation of the material at the time and its context concerning its surroundings. The three-dimensionality of the point cloud makes it possible to easily and quickly distinguish the situation in which the material was at the time. 

Raw material inventories are another example of the use of laser scanning and its benefits of capturing reality more quickly and accurately than other methods of the past.