Use of Drones in Construction

Drones have proved their use in various industries time and again and one industry that has seen its tremendous potential is the construction industry. While dozens of industries use drones, the fastest growing commercial adopter is the construction industry. Drone use on the job site has skyrocketed in the last year — — surging 239%.

Image Source: DroneDeploy

Builders use drones to collect real-time data about projects and understand what’s happening on site. Aerial insights improve progress tracking and help catch problems early — — before they become costly or add weeks to a project’s timeline.But progress tracking is far from the only way construction companies use drones. By spending less than an hour each week mapping a job site, contractors gain access to an unprecedented amount of knowledge about nearly every aspect of their project, with this data in hand. One of the widely used softwares for the same is DroneDeploy.

Used correctly, drones enable faster, more economical, and higher-resolution surveying without sacrificing on accuracy. A successful construction site drone program can provide your business with accurate, up-to-date information on your site’s progress and productivity, and information you can use to ensure high-quality work and minimise operational risks and costs.

Have a look at the ways drones are used in construction:

1.Surveying Land: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are rapidly replacing traditional land-surveillance methods. They are growing in popularity so rapidly that some have even abandoned the classic “bird’s-eye view” expression with “drones eye view.” Drones greatly reduce the labor and time involved in producing accurate surveys. Drones eliminate much of the human error involved in the process and have the ability to capture necessary data in much less time than traditional methods would take. Due to their ability to map vast quantities of land, drones can exponentially cut down on the time to visualise a site’s topography. This would ensure not only that the project stays on schedule and according to budget, but also ensure accuracy before a project is initiated. Sending this information can help determine feasibility and assist with design. Furthermore, the high-resolution images produced by drones can be manipulated into 3D models, allowing one to pinpoint challenges during pre-construction and spot mistakes in the scope, saving time and money in the long run.

2. Communication and Management: Drone technology has evolved to the. point where instant connectivity and communication on the job site are at a surplus. Drones are being used more and more as a means of maintaining constant contact at worksites. Drones that feature mounted cameras can provide video footage to facilitate communication and surveillance. They allow companies to keep tabs on employees and workers and are considered an increasingly invaluable tool for superintendents and investors. Already, communication and management are seeing a sharp increase in efficiency due to the ability to collect real-time data from drones. The decrease in delays in gathering data is having more of an impact each day. The ability to manage workflow 24/7 is unprecedented and is certain to have a significant impact on all manner of construction processes.

3. Health and Safety Induction: Site inductions can often be a tedious and again a time consuming exercise. Often involving a premeditated talk in the site cabin or a pre-recorded induction video. Using a drone to fly over a site can show new site operatives H&S risks in real-time. Enabling site managers to demonstrate moving vehicles, moving cranes, or active excavation areas etc. Each induction would be site specific outlining the risks that are relevant to that site and in return reduce the risk of accident or injury on each site.

4. Project Progress Reports : Construction progress reports are often prepared monthly to record site progress against the project programme. These reports include the surveyor or CA taking multiple photographs of various parts of the site. A regular drone flight can be a speedy way to record and visualise project progress. Through a series of aerial shots and HD video project stakeholders can gain a better insight into the progress that has been made without actually being on-site and have regular daily or weekly updates.

5. Promotional Photography: Impressive photography is becoming more and more important in the way construction organisations promote their business, especially as the use of social media is becoming more important as a work tool.The ability to capture impressive 4K HD video and photos from unique angles can provide an interesting insight into a project or building, making it great for marketing material. In particular, this could be a great tool for estate agents looking to demonstrate impressive shots of a property or building they are looking to sell! The drones offer the opportunity to capture the real scale and size of a project in minutes.

6. Security Surveillance: If you’ve ever had a piece of equipment stolen from a site, you’re aware of how devastating it can be. Having a boom lift or excavator stolen can leave you out tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. According to Capterra, over $300 million worth of construction is stolen from job sites every year, with less than 25% of it recovered. Equipment security is thus a very important component of managing a job. A drone operator can conduct a flyover and quickly see if a piece of equipment is in a secure enough location. The surveillance camera could also be utilised to see if there are unauthorised individuals on the site. This will prevent damage or theft long before it occurs.

7. Point cloud/ laser scanning: Often for a surveyor it can be hard to gain access to a suitable location to laser scan high up areas of a building, meaning the point cloud is returned missing vital information. Laser scanning from drones has become a recognised method of capturing the exact detail of topography, buildings and cityscapes and can provide the missing piece of information.

8. Thermal Imaging recording: Similar to laser scanning, drones can be used to take aerial thermal imaging recordings which can be used to assess potential cold spots in buildings or even heat spots in areas holding electrical components.This can give engineers and surveyors essential information when trying to identify and rectify building defects.