Balfour Beatty Uses Drones in Construction

Balfour Beatty Uses Drones in Construction

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How the construction giant is trialing drone tech for bridge inspection.

Balfour Beatty has officially turned to using drones in construction. Out of a long line of major corporations to look to drone technology, Balfour Beatty says they’re saving a lot. Starting with bridge inspections, a major draw for the industry, Balfour Beatty has partnered with West Sussex County Council for their first trial of drones in construction.

The official announcement came May 12th via press release, where the company says testing has already happened on two separate bridges. Trials took place at Swan Bridge in Pulborough and Adur Ferry Bridge in Shoreham-By-Sea.

Routine safety inspections are typically carried out on bridges every two years. This requires traffic management, a necessary step that allows inspectors to safely carry out work that also often leads to road disruption and traffic back-up.

Using drones in construction, Balfour Beatty has been able to review bridge safety conditions without the use of traditional construction inspectors.

This eliminates the need to shut down bridges and roadways and resolves the issue of traffic congestion. Trials at Swan Bridge and Adur Ferry have proven successful, saving Balfour Beatty £8,000. Drones in construction have also reduced potential health and safety risks typically faced by human workers, too.

In addition to recording equipment that allows the workforce on the ground to review bridge conditions upon finishing filming, the drones have been fitted with protective floats to enable safe water landing. Drones are also equipped with a GPS system to avoid flying into “no fly zones,” like airport spaces.

Steve Phillips, the Contract Director at Balfour Beatty for Living Places, says that,

Using drones in our highways inspection work allows us to safely assess the work required while dramatically reducing any potential hazards faced by our workforce who would traditionally carry out work such as bridge inspections at height. It’s a great example of how modern technology can be successfully used by industry.”

According to West Sussex County Council’s Infrastructure Manager, Kieran Dodds, using drones in construction has thus far enabled the partnership to obtain necessary information that allows them to determine a number of things about bridge infrastructure without jeopardizing inspectors. Drones in construction has eliminated expensive equipment used on projects of height, reduced traffic, and has overall been a drastic improvement to the traditional ways construction and inspection on bridges and roadways has been performed.

Balfour Beatty is far from the first construction company to dabble in drones, and they certainly won’t be the last. It’s only a matter of time until we see the next big company start implementing this type of tech next.

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