Construction is a booming industry, but it’s not always easy. The construction industry has been struggling with projects going over budget and behind schedule for years now. To make the process more efficient and cost-effective, many companies are using drones in construction to solve this problem.
In this blog post, Lucidcam will explore how drone technology can be utilized in construction and its benefits for an already hardworking industry.
Drones in construction
Why are drones innovation being used on construction sites?
Construction projects become more complex and larger. Monitoring large construction sites is one of the most difficult aspects of construction project management. Each stage of a construction project has its own key monitoring areas.
Project managers must monitor the work of field workers as they dig in the ground to lay the foundation. Project managers must monitor field workers who are working on scaffolding during the stage of ground construction. So it is necessary to using drones in construction.
Compared to other sectors, the industry has been slow in embracing new digital technologies, even though the long-term benefits are significant. It is time for disruption. And according to the study, commercial drones—or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)—are key to this.
A recent in-depth technology Driving Innovation report from Goldman Sachs estimates the US commercial sectors likely to see an increase in the use of drones are agriculture and construction. Drones are used primarily for mapping and surveying sites in both industries.
And of course, the UK isn’t far behind, with the PwC’s membership network report Skies Without Limits revealing that drone tech is expected to uplift the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the UK’s construction and manufacturing industries by PS8.6bn to 2030, through innovation, improved productivity and cost-effectiveness.
How are Drones Put to Work in Construction?
Builders use drones to collect real-time data about projects and understand what’s happening on site. Aerial insights can improve progress tracking and catch problems early before they become costly or delay a project’s schedule.
Construction companies also use drones for progress tracking, but that’s not the only reason. Contractors can gain unparalleled knowledge by spending less than an hour each week mapping out a job site. DroneDeploy software makes it simple to plan, communicate and keep projects on track with this information.
With an airplane-like design, fixed-wing drones can glide on a set path and reach higher altitudes, making them efficient for mapping topography and surveying greater distances, according to Big Rentz.
However, fixed drones are only able to fly forward. For closer aerial inspections and photography, rotary drones are the better option since they are easy to control and their rotating blades allow them to hover and remain stable.
Drone imagery outputs
1. Orthophotos and orthomosaics
Post-processing corrects image distortion and stitches them together to create an orthomosaic map. Each pixel can be used to obtain precise measurements such as distances and surfaces. These can be used to overlay plans and projected designs to track site progress.
2. Point clouds
Drone images can create a dense point cloud. Each point has color and geospatial information (X, Y, Z). It is a highly accurate model of distance, area, and volume.
3. Digital terrain models (DTMs), and digital surface models (DSMs).
Each pixel in DSM and DTM models contains 2D information (X and Y) as well as the altitude (Z) at the highest point. These models can be used, for example, to determine which area of the site is susceptible to flooding from water or to hire a contractor who will flatten the earth.
4. 3D models
The 3D textured mesh reproduces the edges, faces, and texture of the area that was shot by the drone. This model is best used for visual inspection, or when public input or external stakeholder involvement is essential.
5. Raw images
Raw images are not processed and offer a greater level of detail, which can prove very helpful for asset inspection and analysis.
How are drones affecting construction operations?
Here’s a look at some of the ways drones have already changed the industry
UAVs are quickly replacing traditional land surveillance techniques. They are rapidly gaining popularity, and some even replaced the “bird’s eye view” expression with the “drones eyes view.” Drones significantly reduce the labor and time required to produce accurate surveys.
Drone surveying can capture data faster than traditional methods and eliminate much of human error. You can have more up-to-date data than ever before, which enables everyone to make better, data-driven decisions confidently.
Drones can provide intelligence and endurance on job sites. Drones can gather and report data quickly, which allows them to finish work quicker. This eliminates the need for manual labor. Drones will be able to perform more complex tasks in the future. Drones are poised to reduce the time and cost of building a skyscraper. Contractors who depend on drones will have the ability to submit more ambitious bids and finish work on time.
Communication and management
Drones technology has advanced to the point that instant connectivity and communication at the job site are possible. Drones are increasingly being used to maintain constant contact at work sites. Drones with mounted cameras that can capture video can be used to aid in surveillance and communication. These drones allow workers to be monitored and used as a surveillance tool by companies and investors.
Already, communication and management are seeing a sharp increase in efficiency due to the ability to collect real-time data from drones. Every day, the impact of drones on data collection is greater. It is unimaginable to manage workflow 24/7, which will significantly affect all aspects of construction.
Increased overall security
The advent of drones is causing a sharp increase in security efficiency. They are being used in construction operations to keep employees safe and protect job sites from theft and vandalism.
Drones can be virtually everywhere at once. Drones don’t just make workers safer and reduce theft, but they also create an all-day monitoring system available 24 hours a day. Many construction companies have adopted this. They significantly improve safety and security on-site.
The FAA has strict regulations regarding drone use. Still, most drones used by construction companies are under the threshold of 4.4 pound and 400 feet travel radius that is required to be considered hobby-class, according to The Washington Post.
These drones are exempt from strict regulations. They can fly almost anywhere, for any reason, as of now. Drones are also capable of safely scanning dangerous areas, reducing workplace accidents, and increasing job site safety.
Transport and Inspection
Drones can also be used to inspect job sites, which eliminates many hazards and dangers. Drones can be used to transport goods and allow companies to perform complex inspections. It saves money and time and keeps the site secure.
Drones are becoming more popular as an alternative to traditional vehicles because they are small and maneuverable. Drones don’t have to follow traffic laws which means they can make deliveries in half the time and use half the resources.
Construction is constantly changing and evolving. This means that efficiency must be improved in all areas of the business. As you consider ways to increase workflow efficiency, we recommend perusing Capterra’s growing library of construction management software that will help increase productivity and efficiency in your construction business.
Who is using drones on the job site?
On our blog, we talk a lot about drone innovation, but who is using drone data? Project managers, technology managers, and superintendents have been the most successful roles in drone data.
Technology managers, superintendents, and project managers use drones to manage their day on the job site.
Project managers are leading the charge for bringing drones to job sites. Projects are often over budget and behind schedule. Drones help close the gap.
How companies using drones on construction site
Drones have changed the way that construction company works. They help them coordinate their teams better, track progress more frequently, and complete projects more quickly with less waste.
These are just five of the ways that drones are used in construction site right now.
Construction companies can use drone data to get visual data of the entire site before they start construction.
These pre-planning data may show drainage areas, elevation changes, and other factors that could help you decide the best locations to build, dig stockpile, or store materials. If a map made with drone data shows that an area is in floodplains, it’s likely not the best location to build.
Pre-planning can also use drone data to help architects and designers see how a new building will look next to an existing building. This allows them to understand the impact of the new project on the surrounding area, both from a practical and aesthetic viewpoint.
2. Keeping the Client in the Loop
Clients can get detailed reports in real-time on the progress of things on-site using photos, videos, 3D models, and orthomosaic maps made with drone data.
Larger construction projects often have multiple stakeholders located in different locations, eager to see how things are going.
Clients would need to visit a site to get visual data. Or, they could hire a helicopter for prohibitively expensive aerial photos or video. Even if they had taken this step, the images could have been outdated by the next day.
Clients can receive regular reports, which are easy to send because of the low cost of collecting visual data from a drone at a construction site. This will help them keep informed and happy about how things are progressing.
Drones are affordable for collecting visual data, and construction companies can use drones to perform aerial surveys more often. This data can help them keep track of changes that could affect safety.
The visual data from regular drone surveys assist in on-demand (could be daily, weekly) operational planning.
Drones can also safely survey dangerous locations, reducing workplace accidents and increasing job site safety.
Safety on a construction site doesn’t only concern workers; it also concerns finding safe access points for civilians to enter the area and possibly get hurt.
It is possible to identify a breach within the perimeter of a site the same day it occurs, rather than waiting until the next person walks by the area. This could help prevent an accident from happening.
Construction managers can also use drone video cameras to monitor the job site for safety concerns, making sure workers are properly balanced and that no structures and equipment are loose or unstable that could injure workers.
4. Progress Monitoring to Improve Efficiency and Avoid Wasting
You can create maps using drone data and send them to your project manager. They can then plan and monitor progress and help you avoid delays that could lead to the project over budget.
Drone imaging can show crane locations, erection sequences, and perimeter security. These sequences can also be viewed frequently to identify areas where projects are getting delayed or congested.
5. Monitoring Productivity and Accountability On-Site
Project managers can use maps of construction sit created using aerial data to help them monitor their crew’s productivity.
These maps can be used for identifying equipment and machinery that is missing or left in an unsuitable area. They can also help managers identify areas they may need to investigate to determine why work isn’t progressing as fast as expected.
Managers can save time by not having to visit the site to assess the various aspects of the project. Managers can view drone data from their offices. They can zoom in on a specific area to identify the problem.
Another advantage of drone data is its ability to provide a permanent record about a project that can be accessed at any time.
Construction personnel can review previous data to identify the causes of problems if they encounter them.
It is not as thorough as a written report that includes a few images taken by someone manually walking the site. This report cannot be used for an in-depth analysis of a place or any other type of analysis.
What are the benefits for construction companies from drones and aerial data?
Drones can do much more than improve communication and keep projects on schedule. Drones can also be used to increase safety, speed up surveying and provide exact measurements. To find out how drones are used on job sites, we surveyed construction customers. These are the top results.
Our construction customers reported many benefits of drones. We reached out earlier this year. Some contractors would benefit from partnering with a specialized drone service subcontractor.
How accurate is the drone data captured on the job site?
We’ve seen increased demand for greater accurate data as construction companies use drones to collect aerial data. Today, companies use ground control points (GCPs) — ground markers measured with GPS to calculate absolute global positioning — more than ever with DroneDeploy. GCPs processed 5X more maps in 2017 and are currently growing at 20% per month.
The data captured by drones during the construction phase can help plan the maintenance of the structure and help building owners renovate and upgrade certain parts of a structure
Construction customers are more likely to need measurements. Construction companies use DroneDeploy’s built-in analysis and annotation tools to accurately calculate area, volume, and distance. How accurate are drone measurements? Using GCPs, customers achieve 99% accuracy.
How much do drones cost in this industry?
Consultancies and high-profile companies in the construction industry closely watch drones to determine how they impact construction costs.
One example is that land surveillance methods have been monitored. They appear to be quickly outpaced by drone tech for inspection and survey purposes, which are cost-effective and pose minimal risk to workers. Since 2017, construction giants Balfour Beatty have been conducting a drone technology trial to inspect bridges in West Sussex. The trial has already shown savings of approximately PS8,000 over traditional inspections.
A report created by Skyward last year found that drone construction work had the biggest piece of the commercial drone market.
The cost of drones is also a benefit. In any industry, including construction, time is money. According to Goldman Sachs, drones can often shorten long processes by producing 3D renderings. UAVs could also be a vital tool for surveyors because they allow for faster measurement and accuracy. This clearly shows that drones have significant benefits for businesses.
When it comes to time costs, accuracy is crucial. Not only does it improve efficiency (cost of time), but it also saves time and money in dealing with errors.
What’s the future trajectory for the use of drones in construction?
The trials and increasing use of drones are becoming more common and, as the studies show, drones could have a significant impact on many areas of practice in the future. , but they don’t have to be the only ones.
Digital data is increasingly being used – This technology is expected to revolutionize not only the way the industry works but also the business and reporting processes. A complete digital overhaul of the construction industry is possible with the advent of drones.
Integration through innovation – The development of integrated systems offers exciting opportunities for the construction industry.
The innovation of systems that combine different data sets, such as laser scans from within a building and drone data from outside, allows for a complete overview of all data.
Regulating use – Drones have been a source of innovation, but there are still concerns and parameters to be aware of.
Unlicensed and unsafe use of drones has been a hot topic in media and parliament. This led to calls for regulations and codes of good practice regarding drone use. The current situation is theDrone (Regulation) Bill 2017-2019The parliamentary process is currently in progress. Specific details of the Bill:
There are two types of drones: domestic and commercial. A license is required if the drone owner is paid.
A subsidiary of the Civil Aviation Authority proposes licensing. To ensure safety for commercial craft, the license also includes rules of use.
This licensing could have consequences for the location and use of drones in construction. For example, if there is an interdiction on drones being used within X meters of people or below a certain height limit, it could impact when and how drones can be used on construction sites.
Register process – The Bill also requires drone owners to register their drones for usage:
- Basic registration is required for all drones greater than 250g, including domestic use.
- Drones above 5kg must be registered and taken a safety awareness test to ensure compliance with UK privacy, security and safety regulations.
Innovation in dangerous industries – Drone technology has many safety benefits and minimizes risk. This is in keeping with the needs of many emergency services like fire, search and rescue, and dangerous structure teams. Drones are now more common than human personnel for surveying safety and rescue.
How can construction managers make drones work best in planning for future development?
Construction managers should now consider how drone use will impact their future plans, given the potential growth in drone usage in the construction industry. The following are key considerations for contractors, construction managers, and other stakeholders:
After the Drone Regulation Bill was developed.
Understanding the technology being developed and how it may impact the type of construction that the company is involved in.
To see where and how drone data can be used to save time and money, and improve safety, productivity, and quality, it is worth reviewing current data collection processes, tools, and data usage.
After all, consideration is done, construction companies can decide whether they want to train and invest in drone-use training for their staff or if they would rather use commercial drone services for their construction business.
Drones are changing the construction industry in ways that will transform how buildings are built. They allow for more accurate surveying of land, quicker building inspections, and can help with monitoring progress on a project site. If you’re looking to get your hands on one of these innovative drones, check out this article!