Drones are now a common sight in construction as trucks and excavators, thanks to the many ways they can be used to help workers better monitor and capture the construction of a project from inception to completion.
In order to have a complete picture of how a project is progressing and to make sure that stringent safety regulations are being followed, inspections and surveys are essential during construction. Modern drone technology allows operators to do inspections quickly, cheaply, and effectively while keeping workers out of potentially hazardous situations.
Users can construct 2D and 3D maps, and orthomosaics, collect elevation data and gather volumetric measurements using data and imagery gathered by a drone in the air to better plan, develop, and build projects.
Users may monitor a site in real-time as it develops thanks to the high-quality data that a drone collects, helping them better manage resources and keep projects on schedule. In addition, drone technology offers professionals in the field the useful capability of viewing a project from the convenience of their office without having to actually visit a site. On this basis, a wide range of stakeholders can cooperate to streamline the tracking of progress and enhance decision-making.
Prior to the invention of drones, acquiring airborne data and imagery was a challenging and expensive task compared to conventional on-foot or manned aerial vehicle approaches. Now more than ever, a drone can easily and rapidly evaluate a job site in a shorter amount of time, for less money. Additionally, operators can increase productivity and assess projects without interfering with work because less time is spent on inspections. This frees up more time for other tasks, such as keeping excess staff away from potentially dangerous circumstances.
Operators can watch real-time imagery of projects while they are being built with pre-programmed flight paths that can be repeated on a regular basis, improving site monitoring, increasing efficiency, and rapidly spotting any issues before they arise. In the end, these reduce costs, prevent the wastage of resources, and uphold safety requirements.
Surveys and Inspections
In order to help operators document job site conditions from start to finish, drones are being employed as a survey and inspection tool more and more. With a drone, data collection time may be cut in half, and the data can be turned into orthomosaics and digital images that are georeferenced and have an accuracy of 1.5 cm per pixel.
Every step of the construction process may benefit from a quick drone assessment. Drones can fly over a construction site before work starts to collect information and create 3D maps of the region to help with building layout planning. Once work has begun, daily or weekly flights by an autonomous drone can be used to track the progress of a project and assist operators in better managing their resources. A drone’s imagery of the finished result can then be compared to the original blueprints or shared with clients for inspection or marketing purposes at the end of a build.
Users can use a drone to get a clear image of a project’s current state compared to the original designs. Users of drones can also gather information to evaluate reference points, elevation models, break lines, and contour lines, and even to determine stockpile amounts.
Real-time Progress and Monitoring
Interactive maps can be regularly updated with 3D maps, elevation data, volumetric measurements, or orthomosaics to give users more control over work progress and keep investors and clients informed. Construction projects can save a significant amount of time and money by carefully monitoring and analyzing current imagery and data. They can also increase communication and collaboration between various stakeholders to improve planning as a site expands and decision-making.
Putting Drones to Work
Drone technology is developing swiftly, and every day new applications for these flying robots are found. Drones, particularly those used in the construction sector, can enable users to track and monitor construction progress at a level that has never been feasible before.
Automation will be a crucial step for drone technology in the future. A drone will be able to autonomously launch, follow a predetermined path, and land. Users can simply assess and cross-reference progress by collecting and reviewing 2D and 3D photos of a job site on a daily basis.
There are countless uses for drones in the construction sector, and more and more companies are learning how to take use of the technology to cut costs, save time, and avoid safety risks. Drone use in the construction sector is expected to soar as technology continues to evolve quickly since it may lower costs, increase safety, and boost efficiency.
How Are Drones Used in Construction?
Drones can increase productivity, reduce expenses, and streamline workflow thanks to their real-time data recording capabilities and distinct aerial edge. Here are a few applications for drones in the building industry.
1. Topographic Mapping and Land Surveys
Consulting topographic maps is necessary for the planning of complex, large-scale construction projects. They can reveal costly errors in designs that are not suitable for a particular terrain. Topographic maps are helpful, but making them is expensive and time-consuming. Therefore, maps are not always updated at the start of a work.
Due to their ability to map enormous amounts of land, drones can drastically save the time required to visualize the topography of a place. This helps the project stay on schedule and within budget by ensuring accuracy before it begins. It is possible to collect this information to aid in design and feasibility studies.
The building team can also use the 3D models produced from the high-resolution photos acquired by drones to uncover mistakes in the scope and spot problems before they occur, which will save time and money.
2. Equipment Tracking
Most project managers have experienced the challenge of losing track of the placement of equipment at each job site. The same manager might rapidly assess whether the equipment was in the right place by using a drone to conduct a flyover. Additionally, they can quickly determine whether a piece of equipment that needs to be terminated is still on the property, preventing expensive unintended extension fees.
Equipment failure is a common issue as well. Problems could be located remotely and visually displayed using the recording capabilities of drones to make them simpler to comprehend. Operators can immediately submit recorded data to repair specialists at equipment rental companies for speedier and more accurate diagnoses before they even arrive at the project site.
3. Remote Monitoring and Progress Reports
Another significant feature of drones used in buildings is that they may provide clients with visibility. Drones may produce breathtaking overhead views and provide clients with an overview of the project’s development when they are unable to visit a site in person. This gives customers confidence that their money is being used appropriately.
By sending data to connected software during flyovers, drones can improve client communications as well as internal team cooperation for teams. Design teams, engineers, construction managers, employees, and owners all have simultaneous access to the data, enabling them to monitor the project and spot any potential errors. Additionally, drones can leave a helpful paper trail that teams can later access.
4. Security Surveillance
We are already aware of the harm that equipment theft from a job site may cause. A stolen excavator or boom lift may cost tens of thousands of dollars or more to replace. Keeping the equipment secure is therefore essential for task management.
To assess if a piece of equipment is in a secure enough location, a drone pilot can quickly fly over it. They can also review the CCTV footage to see if somebody who isn’t supposed to be there is. Trespassers can be located and injury or theft prevented by doing this.
5. Personnel Safety
Worker safety is one of the main priorities for the majority of construction businesses. Falls in particular are to blame for 34% of workplace fatalities. Workers typically have to ascend to shaky platforms and navigate hazardous conditions when conducting manual measures. Drones can replace humans in certain situations, lowering the risk that construction employees are exposed to.
Construction managers can utilize drone cameras to scan the project site for safety risks, ensure that workers are properly balanced, and ensure that no equipment or structures are loose or unstable.
6. Structure Inspection and Photography
Instead of using heavy machinery and cumbersome scaffolding, drones can deliver a crucial check. In addition to gathering high-resolution photos for analysis, they can be flown around buildings to check on their stability and small details. Thermal sensors can be used to detect heat leakage, cold spots, and any electrical issues. This level of quality assurance strengthens client connections over time.
For planned maintenance on larger structures like scaffolding, towers, bridges, and roofs, drones can be employed.
Types of Construction Drones
Even though there are many different kinds of drones, the majority are employed for commercial purposes in construction. Others have revolving blades, while some versions have permanent wings. Their usage and design stand out as the key distinctions between them.
1. Fixed-wing Drone
Fixed-wing drones, which resemble small airplanes, can fly at higher heights and follow predetermined paths. They are therefore effective for pre-construction tasks like topographic mapping and extensive area surveys. They can only fly forward, hence they are ineffective in regions with numerous barriers or confined spaces.
2. Rotary Drone
Rotary drones are simpler to manage than fixed-wing drones since they can hover and maintain stability thanks to their rotor configuration. For airborne inspections, structural scans, photography, and close-range monitoring, these drones are a solid option.
Although drones in construction are not new, businesses are implementing them more quickly than ever before. Drones are proving to be quite useful in the field, whether they are being used to survey land or to follow equipment.
Drones will be more capable than ever before of performing construction-related activities as technology develops.
The current capabilities of drones provide for reductions in labor, costs, risk, and time while enhancing workflow, accuracy, and efficiency. The construction life cycle will only become more efficient if these technologies are later widely adopted.
Drones are redefining the construction business and altering how projects are managed even though their effects are still being felt. It’s safe to say that the commercial drone is here to stay as long as the technology can navigate federal aviation and zoning regulations.