Drones might have started as toys for hobbyists or photographers, but they're swiftly emerging as a valuable tool in nearly every industry. Retailers like Amazon and Walmart are working to secure permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to deliver packages with autonomous drones. In agriculture, these devices can do everything from checking soil moisture levels to pointing out weeds. Conservationists are using them to spot invasive plant and animal species to make them easier to remove.
We're also seeing drones emerging as a valuable tool in the construction industry. How are drones helping construction companies, and where might you see them on the job site?
Planning and Pre-Planning
Before we show up on the job site for the first day of work, planning and pre-planning takes up much of our time. We need to assess the location and ensure there aren't any issues that might prevent the project from progressing. Drones are an invaluable tool for this, enabling engineers and site planners to assess things from the air without the expenses of chartering a plane or helicopter.
This is becoming a growing trend. A 2019 survey found that 23% of commercial drone pilots are working in construction or a related industry.
Identifying Safety Issues
No matter how involved you are, you can't be everywhere on the job site at once, which makes it challenging to identify and correct safety issues as they arise. With that in mind, drones can be your eye in the sky, allowing you to monitor more expansive areas in real time. This is essential for riskier projects where employee safety is more difficult to uphold. These machines can help monitor your job site more efficiently than you could ever accomplish on foot or in a ground-based vehicle.
Tracking Project Progress
If you look at the same job site day after day, it can be hard to see the progress you've made because you're overly familiar with the landscape. Send a drone into the air and take a picture from the same location every day. After a few weeks, you'll have a couple dozen images you can turn into a time-lapse video that perfectly showcases your progress. There's something incredibly satisfying about watching your project come together from the ground up.
Taking Aerial Measurements
Traditionally, you need a tape measure on hand to complete measurements, which can be challenging on existing structures. Drone technology makes it easier to take exterior measurements from the air. You don't need to send someone up on the roof with a laser or tape measure. Instead, you can toss a drone in the air and take all the necessary measurements on garages, sunrooms and unattached housing without ever needing to leave the ground.
Creating 3D and Topographical Maps
Before you ever break ground, you'll need detailed maps of the area. On one hand, you could charter a plane and expensive camera equipment. Or, you could use a drone equipped with lightweight 3D cameras to collect all the information you need to start the job. You will likely want to hire a professional drone pilot to ensure you're getting the best and most accurate images possible. Even hiring a professional is more cost-effective than chartering a plane or helicopter.
Looking Toward the Future of Construction
The construction industry has changed a lot in the last couple of decades. Drones might have started as military equipment or toys, but in a professional's hands, they can become invaluable tools in many different industries. The construction industry's future is bright and will be steeped in technology such as these drones, which are making the sector more advanced and efficient.