The Rise of Drones in Construction and Their Inevitable Importance
In recent years, the presence of commercial drone use within the construction industry has skyrocketed, thanks to the technological advancements in sensor systems, onboard computer features, control systems (motor and electronic), and camera capabilities. According to CNBC, drone use within the industry has seen an increase of 239 percent (2018), due to the simple fact that they are easier to use than expensive on-site aerial planes and provide high-definition, night vision, and thermal imaging of building sites. What was once a fun hobby taken up by drone enthusiasts, has now become a practical, affordable, and an invaluable asset for progress monitoring, 3D mapping, and surveying construction buildings sites. In this article, we will take a look at how drones are impacting these areas and why they have become integral to the construction enterprise.
How Drones Are Used for Mapping Out Construction Zones
One of the major advantages that drones bring to the industry is their ability to reduce the labor-intensive process of site mapping. Prior to the use of drones, construction crews would be sent on-site to plan and sketch out the entire zone. With aerial mapping, a construction company can use a drone to take photographs from multiple angles, heights, and dimensions, significantly cutting down the time that it takes to map out the entire site. These photographs can then be stitched together and geometrically corrected into a complete three-dimensional orthomosaic image.
Once this type of image is created, it serves several purposes, including giving the contractor a closer look at each individual area, giving access to measurements between distance points, and providing additional geographic information about the zone. Beyond this, when kept up to date, an orthomosaic map can provide construction crews and contractors real-time conditions on the ground, ultimately helping in the mapping out of equipment movement, excavation, and deliveries.
Why Are Drones Important for Site Surveying?
When a construction company can get an accurate understanding of the land, whether this is from canvas images or topographical images, crews can plan ahead for site excavation including the removal of obstacles and hazards. Beyond this, drones are much cheaper to fly than any aerial aircraft and they can survey the site much faster than a crew of humans. Due to how inexpensive it is to purchase a drone and train an employee to operate it, this becomes advantageous in that it can cut down the number of days it takes to get the job done, provide the company with a competitive edge while keeping overhead costs down on labor. Finally, when used in tandem with 3D mapping, a construction company can deploy resources safely and effectively.
The Advantage of Drones in Monitoring Progress
Like all types of major projects, a construction job must still be monitored and kept on track with regards to the schedule and budget. Through the use of cameras and live feeds, a drone inspection can quickly show a contractor what progress has been made on a project and whether it is hitting developmental milestones. According to McKim & Creed, utilizing a drone to map out the progress of the site can improve job efficiency by up to 50% as the building crews can stay focused on the project and the client can see project visibility through the progress photographs. Beyond this, a drone that can monitor the progress of the build process can catch small errors, allowing them to be resolved prior to becoming a large liability.
How Drones Make The Construction Industry Safer
Finally, drones give contractors the ability to perform site inspections quickly, safely, and away from potential hazards and unsafe situations. They keep all construction employees away from the construction site during initial surveillance, as drones can be remotely controlled and used to suss out dangerous areas, unattended equipment, and unforeseen obstacles. In using a drone in this manner, the overall risk to the employee is greatly reduced and the job site is improved as a whole.
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