A few years ago, the thought of an unmanned robot flying around a jobsite, keeping an eagle eye on project progress would have seem far-fetched. Soon, it may become commonplace.
According to AngelList, over $1.9 billion had been invested in drone industry start-up companies by mid last year. And the market for drones is exploding. Gartner predicts the global market for production drones for personal and commercial use is expected to grow to more than $6 billion in 2017 and more than $11.2 billion by 2020.
On construction sites, where both the risk and cost of mistakes are high, drones show a lot of promise. Construction projects are often extremely complex and laden with time-consuming tasks that can be simplified, automated and accelerated by using drones.
Here are six important ways drones can help improve jobsite efficiency, saving construction firms money:
- 3D mapping: One of the biggest financial benefits of using drones the ability to create highly accurate 3D topography models. Drones provide a cost-effective, fast way of mapping build sites and existing facilities, while gathering geographical and topographical data in the form of photography, Lidar and video. This data can be instantly uploaded and shared with stakeholders anywhere in the world.What’s more, time is money, and 3D mapping via drones saves lots of it. Drones have been shown to cut surveying time for a 12-acre property from 100 hours down to about 2. And high-definition maps can be created in a fraction of the time it used to take. Drones also make it easier to survey locations that are difficult to access, reducing safety hazards. Drones are cheaper to fly than small aircraft and don’t require a pilot.
- Improved project management and tracking: Mounted with a high-quality construction camera, they can capture images rapidly and even stream live video to remote project managers in real time. This footage can be uploaded automatically into cloud-based project management software, and easily shared with stakeholders regardless of location, to keep them abreast of a project’s progress. Real-time data enables faster, more informed decision-making throughout construction and the ability to mitigate delays or other issues before they cost firms money.
- Better security and surveillance: Drones can help construction firms produce accurate surveys quickly and cost-effectively. They eliminate human error and are able to capture data faster than an inspector walking the site. Drones also enable firms to perform around-the-clock jobsite surveillance, not only to ensure employees aren’t wasting time or violating safety codes, but to prevent potential hazards. Photography and live footage becomes convincing in the case of stolen or misused equipment, or other security violations.
- Effective communication: Drones simplify and enhance communication with investors and stakeholders, particularly those who are not local. Aerial photography captured by drones can be streamed live and accessed by connected devices anywhere, anytime. This capability helps cut travel time and expense—investors need not travel to the jobsite, and project managers can keep them in the loop with frequent, insightful video updates.
- Unprecedented efficiency: All of these benefits lead to increased efficiencies—most likely reducing the workforce needed on a drone-assisted jobsite. PwC estimates the current value of labor and services that may be replaced by drones is about $127.3 billion, a third of which comes from the infrastructure and construction industries. The ability of drones to collect and report on data enables you to complete projects faster at at lower cost. Faster completion means you can take on more work in the same amount of time.
- Competitive differentiation: Construction firms who use drones can bid lower and be more competitive than firms that don’t. Drones can be used to survey jobsites before work begins—even before bidding. They provide up-to-date, detailed data, helping you bid more accurately and avoid surprise costs. Adding drone-collected photography and video footage, as well as 3-D maps created with data collected from drones, makes a lasting impression and may differentiate you from other bidders.
Learn more about using jobsite cameras with drone technology to improve jobsite security, project management and tracking.