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Back to Blogs How Drones Are Carving a Niche in Construction - Aerial Innovations Southeast

How Drones Are Carving a Niche in Construction

The use of unmanned aircraft systems, or drones, to capture still and video images is one of the latest developments in construction drone photography. Drones in construction can collect data from an aerial vantage point, an accomplishment that has revolutionized the industry. As the technology grows more sophisticated, builders will use drone construction services for many projects, making workplaces safer and supervising jobs from start to finish.

Construction Drone Photography

The number of drones for construction use is increasing faster than in any other industry. According to the manufacturer DroneDeploy, using drones on building sites soared by 239% in 2018. Drones can reduce costs, make worksites more efficient, and streamline the work process. Construction aerial photography can also monitor projects, provide updates, and track progress as it occurs.

According to one study, inefficiency and waste are common in the building industry. Big jobs often take up to 20% longer than expected to complete and up to 80% over budget. Disputes over the amount of work completed at any time are frequent. Drone applications operate in real-time, eliminating the confusion about what has been done.

Six Uses for Drones in Construction

Drones allow companies to have a safe and economical aerial view of construction sites. That information enables them to do the following jobs:

1. Keep track of equipment on the job site

Losing track of equipment on each job site is a common problem that many construction managers face. Managers can use drones can quickly assess whether the equipment is in the right spot and recognize if any terminated equipment is still on-site. Equipment malfunction is a common issue that construction managers face. Drones can record functionality to identify problems remotely and provide a visual representation to communicate the issues. 

2. Use remote monitoring to track progress

Drones can provide visibility for clients, especially when they can’t physically be on-site, allowing them to track progress reporting. Additionally, drones can improve internal collaboration by sending information to connected software during flyovers. Design teams, engineers, construction managers, workers, and owners can then access the data to track progress and catch any mistakes. 

3. Survey land and make topical maps

Topical maps are essential for planning larger-scale projects and can reveal costly design mistakes that aren’t suited for certain terrain. Topographic maps are costly and time-consuming to produce. As a result, they’re not always updated at the start of a new project. Drones can cut down on this process by mapping vast areas simultaneously. 

Capturing these visuals up-front keeps the project on schedule, ensures accuracy, determines feasibility, and assists with design. Additionally, these high-resolution photos can be translated into 3-D models, allowing the construction crew to spot challenges and mistakes in the scope during pre-construction. Addressing this during pre-construction saves time and money in the long run. 

4. Maintain safe working conditions

Workers’ safety is a top priority for construction managers. It’s common for workers to have to climb unsteady platforms and navigate hazardous conditions to take manual measurements. Drones can mitigate this risk by replacing workers in these situations. Drone operators can also monitor the job site to ensure that all safety measures are met.

5. Inspect structures as they are being built

Drones can provide a thorough inspection when heavy machinery and scaffolding are replaced on-site. They can check stability and take high-resolution photos for analysis. The drone’s thermal sensors can ensure there are no heat leaks, cold spots, or electrical issues. A drone operator can also thoroughly evaluate planned maintenance for larger-scale structures, such as bridges, towers, and roofs. What typically takes an entire team of surveyors would only take a drone operator a few hours. 

6. Monitor security around the clock

Having equipment stolen from a job site is devastating and can leave you out thousands of dollars. Drone operators can do a flyover to ensure the equipment is in a secure location. They can also check for unauthorized visitors on site to prevent damage, theft, or trespassing. 

Construction drones also play a significant role in infrastructure planning and civil and municipal engineering. Drones are safer in areas that are hard to access, such as swamps and wetlands. Using the software, they can create three-dimensional models of the area. In cities, drones help to plan for stormwater management, roads, parks, and bridges.

Underwater drones are small and easy to maneuver, supporting the infrastructure of fisheries, offshore drilling, shipyards, underwater utilities, search and recovery efforts, conservation, research, and naval defense.

Drone Construction Services

Many types of drones are used in commercial endeavors, but two are common in construction: fixed-wing and rotary drones.

Fixed-wing drones have wings like those of an airplane. They can follow a predetermined path and climb higher than other drones, but they fly only in one direction. They work best in open spaces and efficiently map land topography or scan large areas.

Rotary drones have a rotating assembly that keeps them stable and allows them to hover in one place. They’re also easier to control than fixed-wing drones. Rotary drones are suitable for scanning structures, making aerial inspections, taking pictures, and providing short-distance surveillance.

Drones have multiple features to record necessary data on worksites, including thermal and infrared sensors, GPS units, photography equipment, and software to relay data to computers.

The Future of Construction Aerial Photography

Drone technology is becoming increasingly sophisticated, used mainly in the early days to survey land or track equipment. Recently, one company launched an industrial drone that can lift 1,000 pounds, making it helpful in moving heavy workloads on construction sites. Optional drone applications include robotic arms, 3D sensors for mapping, and ball droppers than put out fires.

In the future, construction drones may control autonomous delivery trucks, robotic cars, and vehicles transporting building supplies. According to a 2018 statement by a representative of the construction company Balfour Beatty, “the construction site of 2050 will be human-free.” As global infrastructure needs increase, drones for construction will become even more crucial.

Drone technology is rapidly evolving, and the Federal Aviation Administration regulates its usage. Despite the many benefits, drones for construction use also involve expense and liability. Successful execution requires planning, expertise, and institutional support. As the concept grows, laws and regulations will adapt to govern its use. The question of privacy is an ongoing issue, and a distinction must be made between construction drones and unmanned aircraft used by the military.

Drones offer many benefits in construction and infrastructure, but guidance is needed to regulate their safety and operation. Aerial Innovations Southeast is an experienced drone business that delivers high-quality results while maintaining the highest safety standards. Contact us to learn more about using drones for your next construction project. 

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