6 Ways Drones Deliver on Construction Jobsites and Off
Many in the construction industry are discovering UAV technology as game-changers in numerous aspects of their work, from survey and mapping applications to jobsite safety to marketing.
Thanks to recent changes to FAA Part 107 rules for flying drones, UAV technology is more accessible and realistic than ever. Add the fact that manufacturers are offering drones designed specifically for construction applications and it opens up the opportunities to professionals at every level, in both the public and private sector.
For example, senseFly’s eBee RTK drone is designed as a survey-grade mapping drone. The fixed-wing unit is compatible with most base stations and can provide accuracy down to 3 cm with no need for ground control points. Featuring a copter design, the senseFly albris drone has five dual-sensor modules. These provide the situational awareness required to operate the drone in close proximity to structures, making it ideal for building and bridge inspections. It also offers a major advantage in its ability to switch between capturing video, still, and thermal imagery, all during the same flight.
From onsite, day-to-day tasks to behind-the-scenes business opportunities, here are the primary ways drones are delivering for construction professionals.
In the Dirt
Construction sites, whether roadbuilding, bridge inspection, or general builds, all can benefit from the use of UAV technology. When used properly, three key deliverables are achieved on the jobsite.
Drones capture data at very high density, often millimeters per pixel. By comparison, traditional staking survey methods using Lidar and GIS typically collect data points anywhere from 10 to 20 feet; sometimes greater gaps exist due to vegetation or other factors that make an area inaccessible to pedestrian or vehicle traffic.
Because drones capture this 3D data in a spatial or geo info set, they produce highly accurate 3D recreations of just about anything on the ground, from a pile of dirt to a full building under construction.
So what does this mean on the jobsite? Imagine a site prep project with hundreds of cubic yards of dirt that needs to be moved. The exact location, height and width of each dirt pile is exact, so a worker can see exactly how much dirt needs to be moved, and precisely estimate trucks, manpower, and time.
Hand-in-hand with the accuracy they provide is the productivity offered by UAS technology. Wasted effort and resources are minimized.
Consider traditional surveying. With drones, data can be gathered at a rate that makes conventional methods seem antiquated. As fast as the operator can walk, pause, press a key to record, then move along, data can be collected.
Drones also deliver data fast, enabling management to make changes and adjustments as soon as possible.
Perhaps the most important benefit drones bring to the jobsite is greatly increased safety.
Bridge inspection is a primary example of just how impactful a drone can be. Conventional bridge inspection methods suspend a worker under or alongside a bridge – dangerous in any situation, but especially depending on the size, location and usage of the bridge while the inspection takes place.
Even a simple surveying project can put workers in danger. An icy winter jobsite is full of slip-and-fall hazards for workers walking the area, where a drone can be used by an operator, safely and comfortably offsite.
In the Business
It’s hard to argue with the accuracy, productivity and safety benefits that drones bring to the jobsite. And there’s another side of a construction business that benefits – the activities that often go unseen to most but have a big time impact on the bottom line.
1. Asset Tracking
The high-quality photography offered by drones and the ability for them to oversee large areas in a short amount of time is making it easier to track assets on the jobsite – both equipment and workers.
In addition to sheer tracking, this can also help determine if current assets are adequate or if additional resources are needed on a jobsite.
2. Stakeholder Communication
It’s not always possible for major investors and other stakeholders to regularly visit a jobsite and see progress updates. Thanks to their ability to take quality photos and video, drones provide a valuable tool for frequent stakeholder communication.
The drone can be set to run the same flight plan once every week to capture precise developments and changes on a jobsite, keeping updates consistent from week to week. Furthermore, images can be time-stamped for precise accuracy. Whether the full site or specific sections, and from site prep to final completion, drone images and video offer the opportunity to communicate progress, visually.
3. Future Marketing
There’s no better way for a business to market itself than showing its capabilities. The dynamic images offered by drones can show a fully-finished project, and from angles that are more impressive and that offer a more thorough look than on-the-ground photographs.
An automated flight plan can be set to take a ton of photos, from the start of the job all the way through completion.
When the most accurate, highest-level information is desired, drones are a viable option for every construction project.
Interested in how to integrate a drone on your jobsite to deliver benefits including better accuracy, greater productivity, and enhanced safety? RDO Integrated Controls can help, and is offering special rates and a one-year warranty on its loaner/demo fleet of albris drones. Contact the team at RDO Integrated Controls to find out more.
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