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In recent years, the use of drones in the architecture, engineering, and construction (A/E/C) industry has increased as drones have provided valuable new insights and streamlined reporting and mapping processes. In this Technology Spotlight, we focus on Integrated Drone Solutions (IDS), a nationwide woman-owned small business at the forefront of drone usage in construction monitoring, land surveying and insurance inspections. We explore how drones have transformed the construction landscape.
Unleashing the Power of Drones in Construction Monitoring:
Leveraging drones allows companies to provide comprehensive reports and LiDar mapping services that give clients a deeper understanding of their construction projects. If a client wants to check on the progress of a site, then drone technology enables them to do this from anywhere around the world in real time. In addition to providing high-resolution aerial imagery, drones can generate accurate land surveys with contour lines and topographical maps before the building process begins.
The adoption of drones in construction progress monitoring has steadily increased over the years. According to a report by PwC, the use of drones in the construction industry is expected to undergo a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.4% between 2021 and 2026.
“One of the key advantages of employing drones in construction monitoring is the ability to capture extensive visual data with high accuracy surveys and reports, which can be used for both planning and insurance purposes. Drones provide data that is not only accepted in the court of law but is also highly valued by insurance companies,” states Kathryn Newell, CEO of IDS. When equipped with high-definition cameras and other sensors, drones can document the construction process from start to finish, providing valuable evidence for insurance claims. Insurance companies recognize the importance of this visual documentation and often offer discounts to clients who use drones to capture footage of their projects. Moreover, having a bird’s-eye view of the construction site allows project stakeholders to monitor progress, identify potential issues, and make timely adjustments, ultimately speeding up the construction process, limiting liability and ensuring projects are completed on time.
Time-Lapse and Topographic Mapping:
A standout capability of drone usage is the creation of time-lapse videos and topographic maps. Time-lapse videos provide a dynamic visualization of the project, showcasing the evolution of the construction site over time. This comprehensive visual record serves as a powerful tool for stakeholders to analyze progress, identify inefficiencies, and improve project management.
Topographic maps, also known as orthomosaics that are composed of thousands of images, offer a detailed and measurable overview of the construction site. These images provide a high-resolution 3D and 2D snapshot of the entire area, enabling stakeholders to zoom in on specific details with remarkable clarity to measure stockpile volumes, take inventory of materials and perform quality control. Combining orthomosaic maps with other mapping techniques, such as topographical analysis and contour lines helps clients gain a comprehensive understanding of the project’s topography and potential challenges in previously hard to reach areas such as swamplands and rocky sites.
Remote Monitoring Made Efficient and Cost-Effective:
Traditionally, engineers and surveyors would survey properties by walking around or using handheld GPS devices. However, with the advent of drone technology, these processes have been transformed, similar to how digital cameras transformed traditional film photography. By utilizing drones to capture aerial data, companies significantly reduce costs compared to traditional surveying methods. The captured data is processed and transformed into detailed property maps that include topographical information.
A study conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) estimated that drone usage in construction can save builders around $1,200 to $1,500 per project. The efficient monitoring process that drones offer helps to identify potential risks to protect the investment. The same NAHB study indicated that drones can help reduce the time required for surveying and data collection by up to 50% compared to traditional methods.
Are There Downsides to Drone Usage?
While the use of drones in construction progress monitoring offers numerous advantages, there are also some disadvantages to consider. One significant concern is related to data security and privacy. Drones capture high-resolution imagery and sensitive information about construction sites, potentially exposing confidential details to unauthorized individuals. Ensuring the secure storage and transmission of data is crucial to protect the project stakeholders and the public. Additionally, relying entirely on drone technology may lead to disruptions in case of technical failures or adverse weather conditions, resulting in delays in data collection and project monitoring. Moreover, the initial investment in drone technology and training for personnel can be substantial, and this might deter smaller construction firms from adopting this technology internally.
Overall, while drone use offers valuable insights to all construction project stakeholders, it is essential to implement appropriate safeguards to maximize its benefits and ensure continuity of construction progress monitoring.
The Power of Drone Technology
By collaborating closely with clients and employing a hands-on approach, Integrated Drone Solutions has established itself as a trusted partner in the A/E/C industry. As the demand for efficient and cost-effective monitoring solutions continues to rise, the integration of drones into construction and remote monitoring processes presents significant opportunities for streamlining operations and delivering superior results.
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