There is no doubt that advances in construction have led to increased levels of safety and decreased project completion times. However, we may very well be entering into a new era in the construction industry thanks to the presence of drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Let’s look at various aspects of construction and how these state-of-the-art devices are literally transforming the entire sector from the ground up.
In the past, surveying a parcel of land (particularly a large one) would require areal footage from a plane or helicopter. The amount of money spent for what what could be a limited return on investment, meant that the negatives outweighed the positives. Drones are beginning to make this concern irrelevant. Remotely piloted vehicles are also able to mitigate the chances of human error on a fly past, which are often associated with more traditional surveying methods (1).
One of the issues involved with large building projects is making certain that the exterior is up to scratch. This would have involved a manual inspection only a handful of years ago. Such a task could be quite dangerous for structures hundreds of metres into the air (2). Drones have the ability to hover literally inches away from a superstructure, inspecting important areas such as joints, welds and seams that can be examined in greater detail than ever would have thought possible with traditional methods.
Job Site Security
A major concern for any contractor revolves around how secure a site is during the entire build process. It is possible that a number of expensive materials could be stolen or vandalised, setting back the entire project for days or weeks. This is an obvious concern in regards to contractual obligations and completion dates. Drones can now monitor a location 24 hours a day and seven days a week if necessary. As they are able to effectively augment an existing security scheme, their contribution to maintaining site integrity is invaluable.
In conjunction with standard blueprints, construction projects first need to be visualised with the help of three-dimensional software animation such as AutoCAD, sketchup or VectorWorks. Thanks to the 4k high-definition capabilities of drones, real-time data can be streamed and downloaded in seconds. Visualisation metrics can then be transferred to proprietary three-dimensional visualisation software (3). Although many articles point out that such technology is still in its infancy, the power of these applications becomes obvious.
Transportation and Deliveries
One surprising advantage associated with many drones is their ability to transport materials to the site itself. This has already been demonstrated in referenced to companies such as Amazon. Some of the advantages which are associated within this logistical field include:
- The prospect of delivering goods to a site in a fraction of the time that would normally be required.
- Standard traffic laws are no longer a concern.
- An ability to manoeuvre with greater precision.
- The delivery of schematics, contracts and other important documents.
We should note that drones (as of yet) do not have the capacity to handle heavy payloads. Most payloads will only weigh a few kilogrammes. Still, these devices are able to greatly enhance the efficacy of a normal delivery schedule.
Drones and unmanned aerial vehicles are set to have a massive impact within the construction industry in the coming years. While they will never replace skilled workers, their benefits cannot be denied. To learn more, it is always wise to keep up to date with our latest posts and news releases. It will be quite interesting to see what the future has in store.
Carey London Drones