Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Construction data accrued from drones is highly versatile; it’s applicable throughout the project’s entire life cycle.
Drones provide construction teams with an overhead view of the site’s materials, staff, and size. You can use them to optimize numerous things on the site like:
- Verify earthwork and grading plans
- Establishing the issues or challenges from as-built drawings
- Documenting project milestones for record-keeping reasons
Their numerous sensors like thermal, zoom, mapping, and lidar provide construction teams with vast opportunities.
With drones in construction, you get to hasten your operations, ensure you satisfy the needs of all players in the construction industry, save money, and more.
Read on for a comprehensive look into how drones help construction.
Table of contents
- How Drones Help Construction?
- Faster Data Collection and Decision-Making:
- Improved Communication:
- Better Inspections and Worker Safety:
- Enhanced Site Documenting:
- Accurate Topographical Maps:
- Pile Volume Calculations:
- Quality Bidding Content:
- Excellent Marketing Materials:
- Streamlining Earthwork Processes:
- Inventory Tracking:
- Security Surveillance:
- Affordable Operations:
- Thermal Imagery:
- Winding Up:
How Drones Help Construction?
Before incorporating drones into your activity, clearly define what you aim to benefit from and how they’ll achieve a return on investment.
Drones come in different designs, and a drone suited for mapping is likely not best for inspections.
You may be seeking more competitive marketing, strategic scheduling, improved communication, or eliminating travel expenses.
Let’s see how drones make these and more benefits possible for construction teams.
Faster Data Collection and Decision-Making:
Thanks to drones, professionals can get accurate site data faster than other methods like crewed aircraft. Besides, the expenses incurred are lower than most techniques.
Drones aid project teams in receiving remote access to real-time data of the site. With a drone flying over the area, you don’t need to make an in-person visit.
Drones allow you to access the site’s current data, saving you travel costs and time.
Drones also immensely help enhance project safety. With drones, you can quickly inspect hard-to-reach areas like the middle of machines without entering them.
Rather than climbing electricity poles or walking along busy routes, you can fly drones and inspect images, avoiding risk.
The quicker you can receive data, the faster you act upon it. Within hours you can have your information ready and decide on the next course of action.
This way, you hastily allow workers waiting for your decision to take on the new assignments. Hence, you save days or weeks you’d spend on manual surveys.
Proper communication is crucial, especially when there are numerous subcontractors and schedules to manage. In this case, it’s likely challenging to adequately understand the site’s condition and communicate with the team.
However, drones provide frequent photos and maps that everyone can interpret. Hence, you significantly lower the number of mistakes and delays that miscommunication may cause.
Sometimes, stakeholders are overseas or across the country. So, they can’t always visit the site. Maps generated from drone flights can be displayed by projectors from wherever and discussed during meetings.
Stakeholders can establish that the progress is okay, while managers can use the data to streamline planning processes.
Better Inspections and Worker Safety:
Thanks to drone technology, site inspections are now quicker and safer. Without them, it’s pretty tedious to view inaccessible areas as you may have to set up scaffolds or boom lifts.
Did you know that a fifth of employee deaths occur within the construction industry? Of these, 34% arise from falling. Workers typically need to climb on unsteady platforms and scaffolds to inspect and take measurements.
Moreover, more than 1% of construction workers skip work days due to severe injuries.
Drone-aided inspection and imagery for measurement taking can help minimize these incidences.
Drones with zoom cameras allow inspections in seconds. You can conduct checks on rooftops, cranes, and building sides instantly.
You can also detect things like escaping AC using rooftop thermal images.
With drones, you can scout for safety concerns, identify weak areas, and ensure each section has adequate personnel to attend to them.
When everything is running smoothly, it often isn’t cost-effective to perform maintenance services. However, during construction problems, losses are usually high.
Drones provide a cost-effective way to keep tabs on your equipment and development, precisely identifying red flags.
Enhanced Site Documenting:
Progression monitoring is one of the top applications of drone photography in construction. Usually, you’ll take photos every few weeks or months for documenting reasons.
Drones that have GPS systems provide invaluable resources for precise documentation. You can constantly take photos at the same spot and angle for a visual timeline.
Drone data is essential in keeping inventors and clients at par with the proceeding of the site. Plus, you have visual proof for any potential disputes.
Accurate Topographical Maps:
The sites including, drone photography are more professional and help the client understand that you care about their project and area selected.
Using drones to create topographical maps allows you to get a baseline understanding of the earth on your site before project commencement.
Drones allow you to get a detailed look into the site’s conditions and how they’ll impact the construction.
With these maps, you can get an idea if there are cracked pavements, flooded areas, and other things that may challenge construction.
Taking topographical maps early on also prevents any blame that may arise. With these maps, you may reassess the situations and gauge whether the claims are authentic or not.
These maps differ from regular drone photos as orthophotos undergo geometric correction to remove:
- Elevation change
- Camera tilt
- Lens distortion
As a result, orthomosaic maps accurately represent the earth’s surface on par with satellite pictures. Nonetheless, there are several benefits of drone maps over Google images.
Firstly, the quality is superior. Moreover, the data is accurate, unlike outdated satellite photos.
Given the orthorectification, these maps can also be valuable tools in measuring true distances on the surface.
The data can also help you establish the dimensions of different features like utility holes, which you can use to enhance existing GIS and CAD data.
Pile Volume Calculations:
Drone photography is excellent during pile volume operation. Knowing how much your contract is hauling off can save you many funds.
Each site has its use for pile volume, whether items are being delivered or hauled off.
With drones, you can collect data, compile it and know what you’re working with on the same day.
On the other hand, manual determination requires surveyors to traverse around the entire perimeter of the stockpile. Then, they need to collect many points, which can be pretty risky.
Drones provide efficiency since all you need is to set them on flight and get volume, density, and tonnage information. Such information is essential in creating an up-to-date inventory count and ensuring the site has adequate construction materials.
Moreover, you’ll reduce overestimating the need for some materials. Therefore, you’ll minimize unnecessary spending and resource wastage.
Taking drone images and overlaying them with CAD designs helps get everything in order. It’s accurate to detect concrete over pours or displaced underground utilities.
Hence, you can save money that you’d otherwise use to do costly revamps.
Quality Bidding Content:
Using drone data for the bidding process helps you predict project costs more accurately and secure more contracts.
Taking drone photos of the potential site provides an in-depth understanding of the overall layout and conditions.
For instance, the drone can fly around the area, capturing hundreds of pictures to create orthomosaics. It then stitches the pictures together, creating a detailed map.
Including insights like this in your proposal makes you unique and professional. It also shows the client that you go the extra mile and give the project the utmost importance.
Excellent Marketing Materials:
Drones provide exciting perspectives, hence why smart marketing personnel and social media coordinators use drone videos.
Handouts, social posts, and case study creation are better when combined with drone photography. UAV videos attract and engage prospective clients. The more prospect you entice, the higher your conversion chances get.
Streamlining Earthwork Processes:
Once you begin excavation, drone photos provide tremendous insights into your earth moves. For instance, in a cut and fill site, you can tell where the earth is too high and needs lowering and which area needs more filling.
You can collect the photos weekly or even two or three times within the week to ensure that your site is on track.
Traditionally, cut and fill operation surveys would only be few and far between during the project life. Hence, it usually caused inaccurate estimations, delays, and unplanned expenses. Besides, such surveys used several days to complete one assignment.
But, since drones are efficient in collecting and processing survey data, you only need a few hours to have your information ready.
Also, drones can help determine the efficiency of each machine based on the volume and accuracy of operations. Since you pay contractors based on the amount of earth moved, having this data allows you to ensure fair pay for work done.
Sometimes, contractors underestimate the time it may take to complete the task.
However, getting updates on the work’s progress allows you to know better when to expect completion. Hence, you can avoid penalties and delays.
Did you know that yearly losses in equipment theft at construction sites go up to $1 billion? Worse still, only under 1/4 of that equipment gets recovered, leading to huge losses. Still, sometimes it’s only a misplacement issue.
Keeping track of inventory, especially on big sites, is challenging. Whether stolen or misplaced, failure to have your equipment where needed leads to time wastage.
With a drone, you can quickly establish whether each piece of equipment needed is at the spot designated.
Besides, inspecting the site allows you to establish equipment that’s on-site longer than required. If it’s a rental asset, you can return it to the owners before it accrues huge extension charges.
Considering the immense yearly losses on construction sites, ensuring your site’s security is on point is imperative. Unlike security cameras that need several units to cover the whole perimeter, you need lesser drones to watch your site.
Using drone photos and video, you can establish equipment that isn’t in secure places. So, you can reposition them and minimize theft incidents.
Using drones, you can also detect suspicious activity. The security team can establish users that aren’t allowed on the site, lowering the likelihood of vandalism or robbery.
If the site requires 24-hour surveillance, two drones with good battery life are enough to get you covered. The security team can use drones to ensure prompt attendance to break-ins so that nothing escapes their watch.
The main idea of drone incorporation into the construction industry is to save time and money.
Whether you are assessing the earthworks, looking at weaknesses in the structure, watching out for burglars, or more, there’s always a way you’re saving funds.
Being aware of mishaps early on allows you to tend to them before they escalate your losses. So, you won’t need to demolish something along the way and rebuild.
Not to mention, drones don’t require as many personnel as a ground survey. That means you don’t have to pay as many people to get the data you need.
Attaching thermal images to drones allows the project team to detect leaks and cracks in a building.
General contractors usually use drone flights during project closure. This way, they can affirm these mistakes aren’t present and that the owners can proceed with their plans for the development.
Moreover, if you get a warranty call about leaks or cracks, you can easily detect them.
Drone applications within the construction industry have immense benefits. With this technology, you can detect costly mistakes before they become expensive.
Moreover, drones allow you to optimally use the time while observing accurate operations.
Not to mention, you ensure excellent resource usage and protection.
Even after completing construction projects, it’s essential to use drones to capture post-development conditions. Keeping a record of the site as you left it can be superb in handling warranty disputes in the future.
Lastly, do your due diligence before hiring a drone company, should you decide to outsource.
Many seem promising and within your budget but usually a nightmare to deal with. Besides, it may cost you much time and funds if they provide incorrect data.