The construction industry has been around for a very long time and continues to grow. As the world develops and continues to grow, there’s a lot more construction planned for the future.
How people construct though is something that is rapidly changing. While some buildings might tend to follow similar design practices to ones that were built many years ago, they usually will not have experienced the same construction process. One new advancement to the industry of construction is the drone (or unmanned aerial vehicles). In just a few short years, these have revolutionalised the construction space and now are an integral part in the planning, surveying and data capturing process.
Drones have had a big impact in the last few years, and they’ve helped rejuvenate a range of industries. Their uses are almost unlimited, and the construction industry has most definitely seen a large impact from them.
Although drones might not be being used in the actual labour stage of construction they play an important part in the planning and analysis stage. Drones are very popular in the building industry as they deliver an aerial view of a site at the fraction of the cost. Subsequently they can develop plans, track progress and monitor any issues throughout the construction stages. It’s this simple, cheap and easy way to provide an up-to-date aerial view of a site that has made drones so popular. Particularly when this sort of aerial coverage could only previously be made possible with a manned aircraft.
Here are a few areas where drones have helped the construction process:
Construction site inspections
Inspections can be dangerous on a busy construction site – but they’ve become a lot safer with drones. One can reduce the health and safety risks to employees by allowing drones to carry out most of the work, while manager view the footage from the safety of their office (either in real time or recorded).
Mapping a construction site
It used to be a long and difficult process to map a construction site, but it isn’t anymore with the help of the right drone. Not only was it long – it was also expensive. You’d have to hire a plan to fly over the area (for large projects) in order to take a number of images.
Now, you can programme a drone to carry out the process in a few minutes at a fraction of the cost. This lets you get the images much more easily. It also means that builders on smaller projects can get the right data where they were previously priced out of hiring a plane. Not only that, but you can also get up-to-date images every day if you need to, as the construction progresses. These drones can also send the right data straight to the right software on a computer so that it can be analysed and compiled in real time – and stored for a number of different solutions.
When carrying out a building survey, accessing the roof can often be problematic. Drones can help make the process safer, easier and quicker and allow a surveyor to assess the roof for faults without actually getting on the roof. This means they won’t need scaffolding or ladders and will therefore be much safer – and also cheaper.
While drone use has many advantages on a construction site, there are also a few challenges. Let’s have a quick look at them:
Commercial drones usually need two people operating them at all times. These operators will need to be experienced in drone control and have a full knowledge of the route. They’ll also need to be experienced with that particular type of drone, specifically the sensor.
You might also find problems in certain weather conditions, that potentially prevent the drone working properly or flying at all. Wind can prevent a drone from flying safely and cloud can stop the right images from being taken.
Drones can also be costly, and have a large up-front cost. You can save a lot of money in the long-run with drone use, but the initial cost can still put some people off. However, drones do look set to decrease in price over the next few years.
Drone use in construction is predicted to grow as more and more companies realise its full potential. A recent study suggests that over a quarter of construction professionals plan to be using drones by 2020. Developments in drone technology could also improve things further.
Pae Natwilai is the Founder and CEO of TRIK, a drone mapping and 3D reporting software for structural inspection.