A Drone on Every Job Site: The Recap

Hear from Hunter Cole and Russ Gibbs of major construction company Brasfield & Gorrie in the recording of our recent webinar

Sep 23, 2016 · 5 min read

By Anya Lamb, Marketing Manager @DroneDeploy

Thank you so much to everyone who joined our webinar yesterday about drones in construction featuring Hunter Cole and Russ Gibbs from the Virtual Design and Construction Group of Brasfield & Gorrie, one of the largest privately-held construction companies in the United States. We hope you found it helpful and informative!

Missed the webinar? Watch the full recording here.

Watch the full webinar recording here

During the webinar, Hunter and Russ discussed how Brasfield & Gorrie approached starting and scaling their drone operations — including considerations like regulatory compliance and best practices — and also showcased some of the specific ways that they are leveraging drone data in their projects.

Lessons from Brasfield & Gorrie’s Path to Scale Drone Operations

Over the last two years, Brasfield & Gorrie has gone from initial tests to leveraging drones in over 15 jobs sites in 2016. And that’s just the beginning — next year, Brasfield & Gorrie plans to use drones on over 100 job sites! In the webinar, Russ and Hunter shared what they’ve learned so far and discussed plans for the future.

Getting initial buy-in was easy. “The initial cost of drones is very low. You can get a DJI Phantom 4 at your local Apple store, work with DroneDeploy to test, and you’re up and running at a very low entry cost. Because of that, we quickly had enough data to set up a presentation with management and as soon as they saw it, they understood it,” said Russ Gibbs.

Brasfield & Gorrie’s internal process and timeline for starting compliant drone operations

Although Brasfield & Gorrie’s path to compliant operations was a bit longer due to the Section 333 exemption process than would be the case now under Part 107, companies looking to start drone operations today can learn from the internal steps Brasfield & Gorrie took to ensure safe and organized use of drones.

Why the interest and investment in drones in the first place? Russ credits the importance of Building Information Modeling (BIM) in construction.

“It’s all about the 3D models and keeping them up to date. This is the core reason why drones are scaling so fast within our company.” said Russ.

The Power of Fast, High-Quality Models

Although Brasfield & Gorrie has also used drones for simple applications like aerial photography and basic mapping and measurements —most of the projects Hunter shared showcased sophisticated use of drone-generated 3D point clouds and highlighted the significant efficiency improvements that high resolution drone data is contributing to the business.

A point-cloud fly-through so high-resolution it was confused for a video

In one example, Hunter compared the process of generating an accurate 3D model with a drone to traditional ground-based survey methods.

“We saw what was a 2–3 week and several tens of thousands of dollars process become a 1–4 day process with only a couple of thousands of dollars invested in equipment and software. When you’re looking at dramatic 75% or greater cost and time improvement, it’s really powerful,” said Hunter.

Drone-generated 3D models can be overlaid on design models to compare completed work to plans

Another example highlighted how a 3D model of site construction overlaid on 3D design plans can help make sure actual work matches plans.

“When we saw how the drone information overlays on the BIM data, that really was powerful for us moving forward. As we scale and every project goes through BIM data, this is going to be how we predictively plan and catch things moving forward,” said Russ.

Russ also emphasized that the cost savings from drones aren’t limited to the reduced man-hours to capture and process the data. Getting data faster means the team can quickly spot and correct potential problems, resulting in even bigger material and cost savings. In one case, this meant that the team could recognize that too much dirt was leaving the site before it became a bigger problem. “It wasn’t just man-hours in days, it was also a lot more dollars saved to not let that dirt leave the site,” said Russ.

Watch the full webinar recording to hear detailed best practices and learn more about these use cases and others.

Answers to Your Questions

We were blown away not only by the number of registrants and attendees of the webinar but also by the number and quality of questions we received from the audience. Over the course of the hour, we received over 100 questions, within the following topics:

Since we were not able to answer all questions on the air, we did our best to consolidate and group similar questions an answer as many of them as possible in writing. When you access the full webinar recording, we’ll also send you this Q&A document.

Watch the full recording here.

Where to Learn More

Once you’ve watched the webinar, there are plenty of resources you can check out to learn more. We recommend the following:

Get Started with DroneDeploy

Want to learn how DroneDeploy can help your business? Visit www.dronedeploy.com to start your free trial or request a consultation with one of our team members. The DroneDeploy mobile application is available for free download for both iOS and Android devices.

DroneDeploy's Blog

DroneDeploy is the leading cloud software platform for…

DroneDeploy's Blog

DroneDeploy is the leading cloud software platform for commercial drones. Learn more at www.dronedeploy.com


Written by

DroneDeploy is the leading cloud software platform for commercial drones.

DroneDeploy's Blog

DroneDeploy is the leading cloud software platform for commercial drones. Learn more at www.dronedeploy.com