The drone industry is poised to make a significant impact on the construction industry. With the potential to speed up processes, increase safety and give greater insights, drones will only see larger roles going forward. Here are some of the most innovative ways that construction companies are using drones to improve the job site.
Traditional land surveys are done from the ground. This requires a crew and specialized equipment to visit every potential job site. Weather and user error can cause poor accuracy, and it’s a relatively slow process, especially for spread out areas or multiple sites. More recently, some companies have found advantages in airborne surveying using planes or helicopters equipped with LiDAR. While effective and accurate, it is a big expense. According to Identified Tech, drones have the ability to get the high accuracy of a LiDAR survey from a far less expensive platform. It also opens up aerial surveys in confined space.
However, LiDAR can be expensive so many drone pilots use photogrammetry as an alternative method of mapping/modeling an area. Software like Pix4d, DroneDeploy, or Maps Made Easy and Ground Control Points can get you started, but an RTK system can provide even greater (centimenter) accuracy.
It’s worth noting, each state has it’s own laws regarding surveying without a license, so you should consult with your State’s Board of Land Surveyors to understand exactly what services you can perform if you’re not a licensed surveyor.
Less Risk for Injury
According to Jacoby & Meyers, using drones can help prevent construction site injuries as workers are able to use the drones to scale and purvey high buildings and structures. However, as noted by renowned New York law firm Jacoby and Meyers, operators should take extra care to follow all local regulations and ensure safe operation of their equipment. Properly used and controlled, drones can help give supervisors an overview of the entire construction site, letting them watch for unsafe practices or developing risks. They can help give an extra angle of vision when heavy equipment is being operated, and can be maneuvered into difficult or dangerous spots that once were only accessible with scaffolding. Equipped properly, a drone can even use technology such as infrared to search for hot spots and electrical problems or fire risk.
Performing Inspections and Maintenance
With the advantage of speed and safety, drones can make quick work of inspection and maintenance tasks. Many inspections are done in risky spots, often assessing danger. Instead of having a person performing such an inspection, a drone can be sent to check the location. This not only keeps the inspector from danger, but also gives faster access to the location and offers either detailed images or even live feeds. Only if further need warrants does a human take any risk. Big companies can even use drones at multiple sites supervised by one inspector centrally located to save time and money while still keeping the core functions of an inspection intact.
We may not yet have drones that can perform complex work, or that can lift tons of material higher than a crane, but even with current technology, drones can be a big addition to a construction site or company. With the ability to save precious time and funds while maintaining or even increasing safety, the advantages of drones are clear. From the start of the project to the end, drones can be a wise investment to make.
Of course, to do any of these things, you’ll need a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate. If you’re looking to get some drone training, subscribe to one of our plans to access our training resources!