How Drones Will Change Worksites

How Drones Will Change Worksites

March 18, 2024
How Drones Will Change Worksites

While drones are known for their incredible aerial photography, videography, and commercial applications, that's not all they're good for. There's another area where they bring new angles and perspectives: worksites. Drones are an invaluable asset, from 3D mapping construction sites to delivering tools and data for informed decisions.

A report by Grand View Research highlights this worldwide demand for commercial drone use, including in construction. It emphasizes that drones are becoming more commonplace within various fields, mentioning that the international market is rapidly expanding and will continue to do so through 2030. So, it's clear that this newly adapted technology is here to stay, and its impact on worksites will be meaningful. 

Improved Safety

Job site accidents happen daily. With these come the cost of medical expenses, compensation claims, and possibly litigation fees. While many of these are usually covered by insurance and may not impact the project's immediate profits, they raise the long-term cost of operations. Likewise, owners will pay in other ways, like replacing damaged equipment or compensating for reduced productivity. These hidden costs usually hit hard right away and often eat into profits. 

These financial implications are why job site safety is crucial in construction. It's also where drones come in. In particular, AI-powered drones can prevent accidents by identifying hazards and notifying managers immediately. Unlike regular drones that need human data analysis, AI-powered drones can spot hazards and evaluate risks on their own in real time using advanced technologies such as computer vision.

Take the following examples: 

Thanks to these revolutionary AI safety measures, managers can execute the proper safety procedures and protocols to prevent mishaps.

Remote Site Surveys

Site surveys are crucial to construction projects as they collect data to determine their sustainability and accessibility, optimize site orientation, and identify potential obstacles. Usually, site surveys take up a lot of time and effort and can be risky, as surveyors must go onsite to take measurements. However, drone tech makes this whole process much easier. 

Fortunately, different surveyors — even quantity surveyors — can use drones to assess sites remotely, studying topography, compliance/safety risks, environmental impact, and more. For instance, environmental surveyors can utilize drones to evaluate a project's impact on the surroundings. They can take aerial footage to track landscape and natural environment changes.

Plus, compared to old-school surveying methods, drones step up with their accurate, affordable, and speedy data collection. You can dive deeper into this data using AI algorithms for detailed and insightful analysis, helping you make better decisions.

More Accurate Cost Estimating and Tracking

An accurate takeoff in construction project estimation is crucial for on-time, on-budget delivery. It cuts out waste and inefficiency and steps up project management by pinpointing where to improve through accurate cost and material estimates. Drone tech makes it even better by giving real-time data on project resource use.

This data can include information about the quantity of materials used, the number of workers on site, and the equipment available. Construction professionals can then use this info to refine their material purchasing and cost estimates. By comparing drone-captured data with the initial takeoff, they can identify discrepancies and make adjustments. 

Plus, drones help track project progress from beginning to end. They provide live footage and images of the project site for managers to monitor progress and identify any delays or issues impacting the timeline. In tandem with construction estimator software and construction takeoff software, project managers can take immediate action to keep the project on track. 

Streamlined Inventory Management

Good inventory management is another area where drones can bring big advantages in construction. Drones can monitor how materials and equipment are used in real time, giving an updated view of the inventory. 

However, quantities for different materials must be measured in various ways. So, here are common construction materials and how contractors can use drones for accurate purchasing estimates and inventory management: 

Having precise drone data helps contractors manage inventory better, cut down on waste, and decide on purchases more cost-effectively.

Upgraded Security

Construction site equipment theft is a surprisingly pervasive problem, causing significant financial strain and operational setbacks. The Insurance Journal reported an illustrative example of this issue involving theft at a Dallas elementary school construction site. The welder and tools in a 20-foot container were stolen despite the welder weighing over 500 pounds and needing equipment to lift. The stolen items were never found.  

Drone technology offers a solution by providing round-the-clock site surveillance. Night-vision capabilities enable monitoring after dark — crucial as thefts often happen outside working hours. Drones can also capture footage to identify thieves, recover stolen items, or report which items were taken for insurance purposes. This upgraded security not only protects expensive equipment but also ensures the safety of workers onsite. 

Enhanced Client Communication

Because technology constantly advances, clients often expect transparent and timely communication from construction professionals. Luckily, drones can help meet these expectations and update clients on project progress when they cannot be physically present onsite. 

Drones provide clients with a unique perspective of the construction process through live footage, aerial views, and 3D site maps. This offers better visibility and improves client satisfaction as the project takes shape in real-time. 

Drones also help keep tabs on the project progress more precisely, which builds trust between contractors and their clients. It lets clients feel more involved in the project and helps them grasp the construction process better.

The Future of Drones In Construction

With drone technology becoming more accessible and advanced, there's plenty of space to continue transforming the construction industry. Innovations such as the xFold Dragon, introduced by ZM Interactive (ZMI), capable of lifting 1,000 pounds, signify a leap towards using drones for heavier tasks beyond surveying and mapping. These advancements pave the way for drones to play critical roles in lifting heavy equipment. 

Likewise, recent progress in autonomous aerial vehicles and drones is making headway in various industries with pilot-free operations. According to an article by the Technology Editor on Unmanned Systems Technology, innovative techs like SwissDrones' SDO 50 V2 and Steadicopter's Black Eagle 50, packed with advanced sensors and AI systems, are making waves in industries like package delivery and agriculture. These drones cut costs and boost efficiency, particularly in tasks beyond the visual line of sight.

Yet, using drones in construction on a large scale has a few hurdles. A key issue is the need for more trained professionals to manage these advanced systems. Education and training investments are vital for successful drone integration in construction. 

Regulatory, privacy, security concerns, and cost also hinder broad adoption. Because there are stringent requirements for using drones and privacy worries, some people are hesitant to embrace them fully. Plus, the costs of purchasing and operating drones can put off smaller businesses or individuals from using them. However, the benefits and potential of this technology make it a worthwhile investment for construction companies looking to stay ahead of the curve.

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