Originally published 17 August 2018. Updated 29 May 2020
Today, drones are being used more frequently on construction sites, and with good reason. Project managers, site engineers and design teams are discovering the many ways drones can make their jobs easier. From surveying and planning, to communication and safety, drones are helping to save time and reduce overall project costs.
So, what do drones do and why should you use them on your site? You’ve likely seen them in use before, if not on a construction site, then maybe at sporting events or by the military. These small unmanned aerial vehicles (or UAVs as they are known) are operated by remote control and have a high-end camera with a stabiliser that enables them to capture steady aerial photos while flying high. On large construction sites, the imagery and data gathered can significantly improve operations.
Here are 7 important ways drones can increase efficiency on your project.
Improve Safety and Security
Safety is always paramount on any work site and drones can help identify hazards faster by providing a birds-eye view of what’s happening on the ground. This limits the time workers need to be in dangerous areas or on elevated structures conducting inspections, reducing the risk of falls and other workplace accidents. Inspections can even be conducted remotely by management which assists in planning additional safety measures.
UAVs can also be used for surveillance purposes to protect your site and materials from the costly and frustrating problem of theft or vandalism.
Faster Land Surveying
Drones are proving to be an ideal tool for surveying land, and the huge savings in labour and time are seeing them replace traditional methods rapidly. They efficiently record accurate data and images faster than could be done by surveyors on the ground – plus they eliminate most human error.
Where expensive surveying tools that have been widely used in the past produce complex data that needs to be analysed, drone software can be integrated with popular tools for ease of use. This makes the entire planning stage faster and less expensive without sacrificing on the quality of data.
Accurate Data Collection
As seen in the example of surveying above, the ability to collect data and use it faster is a big plus on construction projects. Drone software can be integrated with many in-house programs and most popular tools like AutoCAD which makes it simple to put the data to use.
This increased efficiency allows jobs to be completed faster, in some cases significantly cutting project times and leading to substantial cost savings.
Enhance Communication and Collaboration
Drones provide a big picture view of your project and regular progress reports along the way, which allows all team members, contractors and stakeholders to keep up to date. Project managers can post weekly updates and relay any changes instantly, using annotated images for clarity.
This provides the perfect platform for enhanced collaboration. It saves the time and hassle of going back and forth with questions and explanations, while making it easy for clients to request changes early, so things can keep moving.
Identify Potential Problems
With the widespread adoption of UAVs on construction sites, drones are now easily integrated with industry software like building information modelling, geographical infosystems and computer-aided design. You can overlay your drone maps with the utility, water and communication plans for your site, which enables you to discover any problems with service locations before they happen.
Inspection From All Angles
Instead of conducting inspections on the ground, which can be time consuming and involve risky techniques, drones provide extensive visuals with zero safety risk. They can capture every part of your building, from the structural integrity to the exterior facade. This allows you to conduct multiple inspections from all angles which can lead to improvements in the overall infrastructure.
You can also utilise the imagery to keep up to date with the progress of sub-contractors on site. The technology enables you to project manage from anywhere, and keep your stakeholders informed with regular visual updates.
Save Time On Planning
Drone mapping simplifies planning in a few different ways. You can use the data and images to quickly and easily calculate the materials needed for each stage. The aerial view can also help you identify any access issues ahead of time, avoiding unnecessary and costly delays.
Are Drones now an Essential Part of Construction?
It’s fast becoming clear that drones are more than just a handy tool – if you want to keep up with your competitors, they are now a must-have on your large projects.
With increased productivity, enhanced communications and safety improvements, the benefits are clear.
If you haven’t already thought about using drones on your site, the time is now!
How We Put Drones to Use at SBS Group
As manufacturers and suppliers of steel wall, roof truss and floor joist framing systems for multi-level townhouses and apartment top level structures, the only way to get accurate footage of these projects is to take to the skies.
In the past, expensive methods of capturing aerial on site progress pictures involved helicopters or light aircraft. Today, we have the solution right in our hands.
Here are a few of our recent projects – images that would never be possible if taken from the ground:
Location: Doncaster East, VIC | View the Project >
BRANDON PARK OFFICE EXTENSION PROJECT
Location: Wheelers Hill, VIC | View the Project >
Location: Wantirna South, VIC | View the Project >