How construction companies can benefit from drone services

Commercial Drones In Construction

Whether it is recreational or commercial drones, one cannot ignore that the drone industry is beginning to flourish.  With the recent introduction of part 107, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has modified regulations for the use of commercial drones. As drones are recognized, accepted, and less restricted by regulations, the responsible commercial applications for drones have become almost endless.

An agronomist analyzing agricultural health, a telecom employee inspecting a cell tower, or firefighting personnel surveying land impacted by forest fires, all recognize drones as a data collection tool that is saving significant amounts of both time and resources. Construction is yet another industry recognizing value from drones combined with software solutions like Pix4dDrone Deploy, and Propeller Aero.

 

Drones for Construction

There are many moving parts to the development of any construction site, and drones can be useful in the optimization of that relatively complex process. While the move towards drone data collection is happening, it’s still a little hard to say that the adoption is happening as fast as it could be. This could be due to the world’s focus on the drones themselves rather than the solutions that they provide.

While many industries are discovering new applications for drones that help maximize ROI, here the focus is how data collecting drone is currently benefiting the construction industry,  project pre-construction and construction scheduling, payment process, quality inspections, and quantity takeoffs are all tasks that will benefit from drone use. The commercial introduction of drones is changing the nature of these practices completely, providing proven efficiencies 

4 ways drones are optimizing the construction process

1. Pre-Construction Surveys

Planning a project takes a lot of time and resources, but with a drone, data for a complete site assessment is collected within hours. Some of the time spent carefully inspecting and recording field conditions by hand is eliminated. Better detail is obtained as well as better overall project site perspective.

Superintendents, project managers, subcontractors, architects, and clients can combine efforts and collaborate with one data source. Minimizing job site visits and enhancing the decision-making process. 3D modeling, surface’s, and simple photos and video are some of the data products that support the planning process.

Volumetric Survey at Hospital Construction
Volumetric Survey at Hospital Construction

2. Tracking Progress for Schedule and Payment

On civil projects, large site commercial projects, or high rises, drones give the project team a powerful view of the site conditions for tracking progress.

Earthworks, steel erection, building skin, curtain wall, and finished grade vs. existing grade can be evaluated timely and more frequently. Collecting site analytics with drones is much faster than boots on the ground; Streamlining the decision-making and creating a better overall experience for stakeholders.

It bears repeating that drones are not an added expense to the project, but a tool to make many activities easier and more efficient. Ease, efficiency, and safety always translates to a better bottom line.

Change Detection Diagram
Change Detection Diagram

Not only can this help keep your projects moving promptly, but it will also enable you to easily keep the client updated on how the project is progressing.

Clients can’t make it to the site regularly to track the progress themselves, but having drone imagery products and being able to analyze it with various software will essentially make this possible. Overall, site surveys done with data collected by drones can keep projects on time, keep clients updated, and save money for all involved.

3. Managing Materials and Equipment

For big job sites that are spread out in the field, keeping track of material and equipment needed to complete the work can be a tedious task. Periodic drone flights dramatically simplify this task. 

Data from drones can demonstrate readiness for certain activities. Understanding quantities on hand prevent many shortages from occurring, whether it is pallets of pipe or volume of gravel stockpiled.  Drone surveys can supply this information timely and effectively aiding the logistics and planning of materials, and prevents possible interruption of construction activities.

4. Quality Control Inspections for New or Existing Work

New construction must be inspected and checked for quality and durability. Drone technology can support the quality control process and eliminate the need for QC personnel to physically inspect certain features. Inspection of steel and connection details, as an example, can be easily completed (and documented) using photogrammetry.

Photography inspections can get up close without the need for a crane or man lift drastically reducing the on-site cost. As structures age and develop wear and tear inspections are necessary to ensure public safety. Viewing structural issues using sensors like thermal and electric optical can identify degradation and focus on details.

Bridge Inspection Points
Bridge Inspection Points
Expansion Joint Inspection

Conclusion

These are just samples of how drones and Photogrammetry can support the construction industry. Drones, of course, are fun but are increasingly recognized as a functional tool supporting a wide range of applications. Construction sites are another example where this tool can provide real bottom line results. It’s important also to note that drones cannot do this by themselves. They require skilled pilots that have adequate insurance, flight operating procedures for safety, and mishaps plans for adequate planning.


Also published on Medium.