People find new ways to use the flying machines every day, and the construction industry is quickly catching on.
Here are 10 ways drones are impacting the construction industry:
1. LAND SURVEYING
Land surveying is tramping around a property, holding targets, and making measurements. You rent costly equipment, and it takes substantial time to completely survey a lot.
With a drone, you can look at a parcel of land and see the details of the landscape and surrounding area. You still need to walk it, but now you can make more accurate estimates and better decisions about a potential project.
2. OBSERVE HARD-TO-ACCESS PLACES
Some properties are hard to reach. Maybe there are no roads or the ground is not stable. If it is forested land, you might have a hard time seeing anything but trees. Another possibility is inspecting a damaged structure, causing the loss of life or limb.
Drones don’t need a surface or roads to work well. Hooked to a video camera, you see what the drone sees in real time as it hovers over a rocky outcrop or another area you can’t walk. Drones only need to be in line-of-sight of the operator.
3. SPEED UP DELIVERIES
Just like a drone can fly up a hill without a road, you can use one to deliver supplies and materials where the roadways are less accessible. If mud is bogging down your vehicles, a drone can take the load for you. In some areas, drones also help lay brick or 3D-print components while in flight.
You can also monitor deliveries from above, to ensure arrival and proper unloading and storing. Or, use the drone for security surveillance to keep watch for thieves and vandals.
4. PRESENT SITE PROGRESS
Every owner is anxious to know how a project is coming along. The capability to show them instead of telling them makes a big impression. As always, a picture is worth a thousand words, and if you can help the owner visualize the progression of a project, you will have happy clientele.
A drone can also show delays. Having an owner see the progress themselves helps show you aren’t deliberately slow. Besides, if you can show owners exactly how the project is going, they are less likely to show up at the site and cause a disruption.
5. MONITOR JOBSITES
Drones are an ideal tool for those with multiple projects and clients. Cut out miles of driving and hours on the phone by accessing a video feed from drones hovering over each of the properties. You’ll still need a drone operator in line-of-sight at the location, but video can be streamed for remote viewing.
Not only can you oversee projects more quickly, you can catch problems early and increase your availability to the rest of your staff.
6. MONITOR WORKERS
You need supervisors, but they come at an expense. Instead of hiring more bodies to watch workers work, use a drone to ensure everyone is following appropriate safety precautions and perform general surveillance. In the event of theft of your property or an employee who is not following proper protocol, you can watch with a drone and call an onsite supervisor, if needed. A certified drone operator is needed on location.
7. INSPECT ROOFS
Roof inspections are tricky. Some roof designs are impossible to stand on. There is also the possibility of putting your foot through a weak roof and juggling your camera, notebook, and other equipment.
A drone can hover as close as possible, recording every inch of a roof, taking photos and streaming video to your computer, allowing you to record everything digitally from the ground.
8. SAFETY AND INSURANCE
The cost of construction insurance is growing. Document your crew’s compliance using drones to inspect and record activity, showing that they follow the correct safety protocols. Check for misaligned columns, watch an excavation to ensure processes are followed properly, and notify site management if you see something wrong. The ability to use a drone for safety monitoring could result in a price cut on your insurance.
9. GUIDE CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT
While some construction equipment is equipped with GPS, drones can also act as the eyes of the machinery. One U.S. company uses drones to collect visual cues and send them to a computer that creates the guidance for unmanned machinery. Remote construction management is quickly becoming the norm.
10. MARKETING AND PROMOTION
You can use aerial footage, still photos, and video as parts of your marketing campaign. Create a montage showing a building rising out of the dirt in a time-lapse. Make a gallery of your most impressive projects. Show prospects the types of structures you build and encourage prospects to put you on the shortlist. Use the same videos and images in municipal presentations and task force viability documentation.
Using drones to monitor from above or at a distance provides a competitive advantage to your business. Handle more projects in the same amount of time, monitor worker activity and safety, and show your clients progress when they ask.
By including images and video in your marketing and promotion, you provide a visual for what most companies can only describe in words. From guiding unmanned equipment to surveying parcels of land, a drone goes places where before, only a bird—or a very expensive helicopter—could fly.
About the Author:
Steve Wright works for Whirlwind Steel, a manufacturer of pre-engineered steel buildings and components. Whirlwind Steel metal buildings are manufactured and designed to meet the highest quality standards.
Modern Contractor Solutions, February 2018
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