The drones are coming! Yes, they are making their way to your jobsite if they have not already arrived. Why? They provide invaluable perspective. These unmanned aircraft systems allow builders to more effectively study jobsite conditions enabling time and money savings. More importantly, the drone can operate with various degrees of autonomy to capture jobsite viewpoints previously inaccessible. The presence of jobsite drones is a game changer.
Drones can outperform humans in number of ways. First and foremost, they can fly. Beyond that very fundamental fact, drones capture invaluable information for project manager dissemination, allowing for a greater level of oversight. Rather than comparing the drones to humans, the following discusses how the drones can effectively serve a project from start to finish.
- Jobsite Mapping: Traditionally, developing a project site plan was not easy. The effort began with hiring a plane to fly over the site to take an aerial photograph. With enlarged aerial photography, the arduous task of overlaying the project plans to scale the site would begin. This effort required a fair amount of time and money. As drones have become more economically feasible to obtain, it did not take long before construction teams were able to recognize the value. Drone aircraft can easily fly in-and-out of construction areas, and capture footage and information.
- BIM with Drones: Did you know that drone footage can be applied to building information modeling? Pretty cool right? Drone footage can be used to provide another added level of detail in 3D modeling, contour line maps, 3D volumetric analysis, and progress forecasting models. The aircraft is capable of rendering detail with accuracy and provides tremendous value for a number of applications.
- Jobsite Logistics: Drone information brings jobsite logistics to a whole new level. Project superintendents are able to initially create more accurate site logistic plans. As the site progresses, the drone captures real time footage, allowing the building team to effectively respond to logistical challenges with a bird’s eye view.
- Jobsite Progress Evaluation: Aerial footage combined with GPS recording allows the project team to evaluate project progression and as well as material inventory. When materials are starting to run low, the manager will know the right time to deliver new materials to the site, allowing just-in-time delivery to congested sites.
- Jobsite Construction Methods: Drones can capture certain construction techniques and processes allowing efficiency analysis and training. Examples include site preparation, foundation excavation and concrete placement, structural frame erection, and building skin installation including inspection of sealant joints.
- Jobsite Safety: A drone can identify hazardous jobsite conditions that may not be observed by the jobsite team. A regular drone jobsite inspection address a unsafe work conditions before there is an injury.
- Jobsite Security: FAA approved drone services, such as ECamSecure, can be used to patrol the work site. Eventually, drones will be equipped with night vision and motion sensors to patrol construction sites at night. They’ll also have scheduled deployments from a charging station and fly a programmed route.
It is not a stretch to realize drones are revolutionizing project delivery at all phases. Like any other technology, drones require proper management of the footage, i.e. information. Drone usage is not without challenges. At this stage, it is best to engage with a consultant to effectively create operational efficiencies and provide real value to the jobsite team.
How are you using drones on your project site? Tell us in the comments section below!