The construction industry has always been at the forefront of technological advancement. As new technologies emerge, they often become incorporated into the way buildings are constructed. Drones in construction are making significant impact. They have revolutionized the way we build structures, allowing us to capture high quality images from above. These images can then be used to create 3D models or even virtual reality simulations. This allows builders to visualize their project before starting work.
There are significant environmental and economic benefits to keeping buildings and other types of facilities operational and construction sites safe. But doing so requires slow, dirty, and dangerous work of monitoring and inspection.
One thing that has changed over time is how people construct – the procedures, methods, and effectiveness. While some buildings might follow similar design principles to ones that were built a thousand years ago, they normally won’t have undergone the same construction process.
New innovation to the world of construction is the drone aka unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). In just a few years, these drones have almost transformed the construction industry and now play a significant role in the planning, surveying, and data capturing process.
They are poised to perform many of these types of functions, because they can capture video, take high-resolution images and do laser scanning remotely by an operator on the ground.
Drones have been a major innovation in the last few years, and they’ve increased the number of activities that can be performed for a number of industries.
Their uses are almost unlimited, and the construction industry has certainly seen a huge impact from them as well. Construction companies believe that drones are here to stay because they create a better working environment for employees.
While the uses of drones do not include the actual labour phase of construction (yet), they play a huge role in the planning and analysis process.
Drones are hugely popular in the building industry due to the fact that they provide an aerial view of a site at a comparatively smaller amount of the cost of the construction.
This means they can be used to develop plans, track progress and monitor any issues throughout the construction process. It is a simplified, budget-friendly and faster way to provide an up-to-date aerial view of a site. This has made drones quite popular in the construction industry. This sort of area coverage, in particular, could only previously be made possible with a manned aircraft.
Here are a few areas where drones have helped the construction process:
Mapping a construction site
The process involved in mapping a construction site used to be long and difficult, but with the help of the right drone, all that has changed. Not only was it a lengthy process but it was also expensive. Construction companies undertaking large projects had to hire a plane to fly over their large sites to take the needed pictures.
Nowadays, a drone can be programmed to carry out the process in a few short minutes at a fraction of the cost. This lets you get the images much more easily and in less time. It also means that builders on smaller projects can get the right data where they were previously priced out of hiring a plane while eliminating the chances of getting wrong data.
Not only that, but you can also get current images every day to monitor the construction progress if you need to. These drones can also send the appropriate data straight to the right software on a computer so that it can be analysed and compiled in real time. From there, it can be stored and used to create a number of different solutions.
Construction site inspections
Inspections on a busy construction site can be dangerous – but they’ve become a lot safer with drones. The health and safety risks to employees can be reduced drastically by allowing drones to carry out most of the work, while managers view the footage from the safety of their office, whether real-time or recorded.
Bridge inspection companies have discovered that the use of drones is the best way to complete inspections of structures that are close to the water. Drones have the ability to fly to remote locations, a task that would have taken a group of builders a few days to get to. Drones are also useful during insurance claims, as they are used to provide evidence of construction progress.
In the process of carrying out a building survey, accessing the roof can often be dangerous and difficult. Building surveillance using drones can identify potentially unsafe situations, so they are addressed faster.
Drones can help make the process safer, easier and quicker and allows a surveyor to assess the roof for faults without actually getting on the roof. This means surveyors won’t need scaffolding or ladders and will, therefore, be much safer, and the cost, cheaper.
While the use of drones has many advantages on a construction site, there are also a few challenges. Let’s have a quick look at them:
- Commercial drones normally need two people with technical knowledge of drones to operate them. They’ll also need to be experienced with that particular type of drone, especially the sensor. Apart from being experienced in drone control, these operators will need to have full knowledge of the route.
- You might also experience problems with using drones in certain weather conditions that prevent the drone from working correctly or flying at all. Weather conditions like heavy wind or thick cloud cover can prevent a drone from flying safely and can stop the right and clear images from being taken. Operating drones under these kinds of conditions can cause delays and might eventually lead to a collection of wrong data. Strong winds can also lead to the drone being swept away and losing connection with the controller, or worse, its destruction.
- Purchasing drones can also be expensive and have a large up-front cost. Despite the fact that companies save a lot of money in the long run after you buy drones, the initial buying cost can seem huge and make them less interested. However, the good news is that it seems like there will be a reduction in the price of drones over the next few years.
A massive increase in the use of drones is inevitable as more businesses realise its full potential. A recent study suggests that over 25% of construction professionals plan to use drones in their operations by 2020. As more advances are made in drone technology, it will offer more benefits and be generally more useful.
PaeNatwilai is the Founder and CEO of TRIK, a drone mapping and 3D reporting software for structural inspection.