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The Future of Drones in Construction

Posted: November 4, 2016 | Project Management

By Darryl M. Anunciado, MBA

Drone technology is now integrating with almost every industry, including construction. Only two years ago, the market quickly became saturated with easy-to-use “flying camera drones” for recreational use. The ability to capture excellent quality videos from an aerial perspective became a go-to technology for hobbyists who loved to shoot photos and videos of everything from surfing to exotic locales.

The love of this technology is now transitioning into serious industrial use. For instance, the construction industry is quickly becoming one of the main industries to implement drones, and construction employees are starting to fly their own drones around job sites to check on a myriad of inspections that require an unobstructed view.

Industrial Use of Drones

There are industrial drones used in construction projects to track progress, for on-site surveillance, and for safety and code compliance. Some models are simple to use, while others, especially the newer models, can be quite technical.

According to Micro Aerial Projects, when a construction project develops, drones can be easily used to monitor progress. A project manager or supervisor can watch the construction in real time, and provide proactive solutions.

Flying a drone to capture aerial imagery – as the project is underway – allows for many remote decision-making factors, based on the progress reported by factual information displayed in the pictures or video. “A picture is worth a thousand words” – and then some!

The image data can supply adequate communication among all project participants in any construction project. Having high-resolution aerial imagery of the site can also provide a means to detect potential issues that the construction site may face (such as erosion, or inaccessibility), and may help to more efficiently organize materials and equipment around the site.

Drones can supplement an effective quality assurance program by providing project supervisors the proof that that they are meeting quality standards in materials, as well as meeting project improvements, goals, and deadlines.

Project payments based on progress can also be more assuredly initiated, because photographs provide far more compelling evidence that work has actually progressed. Drone surveillance can also contribute to detailed project planning, estimations, and scheduling. It can provide frequent project monitoring of subcontractors’ work. It can be your “spy-in-the-sky” rather than your “employee on the ground”.

Drones provide an efficient means of producing actionable data – saving time and money. Once a construction project has been completed, drones can be used to again to map and model the site and its surroundings to provide evidence of completion to owners and shareholders, as well as marketing and realty agencies, etc.

Drones can provide more services to ensure integrity. Buildings can be inspected using thermal cameras to determine energy efficiency. High resolution cameras can be used to inspect building stress points, potential damage, and other close-up inspections that would otherwise require ladders, scaffolding, and employees.

3D Modeling of the Site

With help from San Diego State University and Action Drone Inc., new drone techniques are being developed to make land surveying, structure quality inspection, and volumetrics become a part of the construction world – by creating a 3D environment of the construction zone or the structure itself.

Drones and 3D modeling will be very important in the construction industry – saving overhead costs and promising potential higher returns on investment (ROI) to shareholders. With the financial savings this technique provides, many construction companies will be utilizing drones as standard operating procedures to their work environment.

3D models can now easily estimate volumes of aggregates and composites from an aerial vantage point. This data can assist in weekly or daily inventory, providing in real time the amount of asphalt or cement needed to finish a road or highway or, for instance, the amount of stucco needed to cover an entire building.

3D models can also help determine many decisions and solutions. The project manager will be able to know the actual progression of the project. This will enable him to calculate the estimated time to finish, as well as implement top management support and commitment to the project.

The Future of Industrial Drones

These are a just few examples of how drones are currently being used by experts in the construction industry. Drone companies, like Action Drone Inc., are making this volumetric technology available to emerging drone experts. The hopes for the A/E/C industry is that drone companies can create a new working cycle that includes flying the drones daily or weekly above construction sites to collect specific data with ease.

This is just the beginning of drone technology, and there are new surveying and inspection techniques that will facilitate all aspects of construction process. It’s only a matter of time before drones are included in standard operation procedures on most large construction sites.

About the author:

Darryl Anunciado is the CEO of Action Drone Inc., an American drone manufacturer in San Diego, California. Darryl’s devotion for aerial remote control devices and entrepreneurship, drove him to launch Action Drone Inc. Darryl has an MBA and BA in Psychology Industrial Organization. Action Drone has a team of engineers, technicians, and business developers to help your company apply drone technology in construction. Action Drone also has a passion to help others advance in the job market, while investing back into youth community projects and training programs.

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