Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are rapidly replacing traditional land-surveillance methods. They are growing in popularity so rapidly that some have even abandoned the classic “bird's-eye view” expression with “drones eye view.” Drones greatly reduce the labor and time involved in producing accurate surveys. Drones eliminate much of the human error involved in the process and have the ability to capture necessary data in much less time than traditional methods would take.
Improvement to infrastructure
Drones provide superior endurance and intelligence on job sites. Their ability to collect and report data allows them to complete work faster. The need for manual labor is all but removed from the equation. In the future, drones will take on even more integral tasks involved in large projects. They are poised to cut the time it takes to build a skyscraper by a broad margin, thereby cutting costs. Contractors who rely on drones will be able to make much more ambitious bids and complete work on time.
Communication and management
Drone technology has evolved to the point where instant connectivity and communication on the job site are at a surplus. Drones are being used more and more as a means of maintaining constant contact at worksites. Drones that feature mounted cameras can provide video footage to facilitate communication and surveillance. They allow companies to keep tabs on employees and workers and are considered an increasingly invaluable tool for superintendents and investors.
Improved overall security
The advent of drones is causing a sharp increase in security efficiency. Whether the drones are used to maintain the safety of employees or to protect the job site from theft or vandalism, they are steadily seeing greater implementation in the construction industry.
Drones have the ability to be practically everywhere at the same time. They don't just reduce theft and keep workers safer; they create an around-the-clock, real-time monitoring system that has already been adopted by a number of construction companies. They elevate onsite security and safety by a tremendous margin. Even though the FAA exacts strict standards on the use of drones, most models used by construction companies come in under the 4.4-pound weight threshold and 400-foot travel radius required to be considered hobby class, as reported by The Washington Post. Drones that meet those criteria are not subject to stringent regulations. As of right now, they can be flown practically anywhere for any reason. Drones can also safely survey dangerous locations, reducing workplace accidents and increasing job site safety.
Transportation & Inspection
The use of drones in job site inspection also means a drastic increase in worksite safety by eliminating numerous dangers and safety hazards. Using drones to transport goods aerially allows companies to execute difficult inspections and keep track of everything that enters and leaves the job site. It saves money and time and keeps the site secure. Since drones are generally small with high levels of maneuverability, they are being used more and more as an alternative to traditional vehicles. Even better, drones do not have to adhere to traffic laws, which allows them to make deliveries in a fraction of the time, using half of the resources.
Visual data collected by drone can help construction companies get a solid understanding of the entire site before they begin construction. This pre-planning data can show possible drainage spots, changes in elevation, and other factors that can help determine the best places to build, dig, or stockpile materials. For example, if a map created with drone data reveals that a certain area is in a floodplain, that’s probably not the best place to build.
Photos, videos, 3D models, and orthomosaic maps created with drone data can be used to provide clients with detailed, real-time reports on how things are progressing on-site. On larger construction projects, there are often multiple stakeholders in multiple locations who are all eager to know how things are progressing. Without a drone collecting visual data, clients would have to walk a site in person to see how things are moving along, or hire a helicopter at a prohibitively high cost to collect aerial shots or video. And even if they did take this step, the shots collected could be outdated after the next workday. Given the relatively low expense of collecting visual data using a drone on a construction site, regular reports can now be sent to clients, helping them stay informed and happy about how things are moving along.
Since drones make the collection of visual data so much cheaper, construction companies can use drones in construction work to do aerial surveys more often, and this data can help them stay on top of changing conditions that may impact safety. And safety on a construction site isn’t just about keeping workers safe—it’s also about finding access points where civilians could enter the work area and potentially hurt themselves. Identifying a breach in the perimeter of a site on the same day it happens, instead of the next time someone walks by that specific area on foot, could make all the difference in preventing an accident.
Maps created with drone data can be created regularly and sent to a project manager, who can use them to plan and monitor progress, a crucial part of avoiding delays that can cause a project to go over budget. Drone imaging can be used to show erection sequences, crane locations, and perimeter security (i.e., gaps in fencing), and these sequences can be viewed regularly to pinpoint where projects are starting to get congested or delayed. We’ve had a 10-15% accuracy increase [with drones]…that alone has saved us thousands of dollars every year. – Doug Stout, Compliance Manager, Eucon Corporation
Maps of a construction site created with aerial data can also help project managers to monitor the productivity of their crew. These maps can be used to see if equipment or machinery is missing or has been left in the wrong area of the site, and can help identify places where a manager may need to investigate to see why work isn’t proceeding as quickly as anticipated. This kind of information saves the manager the time of having to walk the entire site on foot to review the condition of different aspects of the project. With drone data, the manager can just review a map, zoom in to see a certain area, and identify the problem from his or her office. Another great thing about drone data is that it provides a permanent record of a project, which can be referenced at any time. If something goes wrong down the line in a project, construction personnel can go back and review earlier data to understand the conditions that led to the problem. A written report with a handful of images created by a person manually walking the site isn’t nearly as comprehensive. This kind of report couldn’t be used for the same kind of in-depth analysis of a site to understand everything that happened there.