Drones are emerging as a leading trend in construction technology in 2018. The presence of drones in construction means significant changes within the industry. Drones have already begun changing the way the construction industry operates, and those changes will have continued and lasting effects.
Nearly one in five (18 percent) of small to medium size construction businesses are currently using drones for photogrammetry and mapping. Goldman Sachs estimates that the construction industry will adopt drone usage more rapidly than any other commercial industry.
Here’s a look at some of the ways drones have already changed things and how these trends will impact construction operations in the future.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones 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 “drone’s-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.
Drone technology is capable of dramatically reducing time and resources needed for surveying. A traditional surveyor would spend up to a month to survey a construction job site in detail, a construction company called Identified Technologies uses self-flying drones to complete the same work within minutes, greatly expediting project timeframes and reducing physical labor costs.
Improvements to Infrastructure
Drones provide superior endurance and intelligence on job sites. Their ability to collect and report data allows work to be completed 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.
Already, communication and management are seeing a sharp increase in efficiency due to the ability to collect real-time data from drones. The decrease in delays in gathering data is having more of an impact each day. The ability to manage workflow 24/7 is unprecedented and is certain to have a significant impact on all manner of construction processes.
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 a round-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 constructioncompanies come in under the 4.4-pound weight threshold and 400-foot travel radius required to be considered “Hobby Class.” 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 and 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.
So, apparently drones are affecting many facets of the construction industry in a good way. They are creating high efficiency processes and being accepted even by many small to mid-size businesses. Other technologies to watch out for and that are leading the way are autonomous equipment, Augmented/Virtual Reality, and 3D printing.
The Balance, 6 Ways Drones Are Affecting the Construction Industry, March 17, 2018.
Software Connect, Construction Technology Trends – 2018 Report, January 2nd, 2018.