How Drones Are Affecting the Construction Worksite

How Drones Are Affecting the Construction Worksite

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Drones in construction: they mean big changes for the industry, but what about the now? Despite the Federal Aviation Administration’s accidental leak on drone rules and regulations, there is still a very much thriving drone community in construction changing the way the industry works entirely. Although we haven’t even begun to scratch at the surface, here’s a quick look at the two biggest ways drones have already changed the construction industry.


Two Biggest Improvements in the Construction Industry


Increased Efficiency


Everything from better land surveying to improving infrastructure quality to management and communication has experienced a boost in overall performance and efficiency after the implementation of drones. And here’s exactly how drones are shaping the steep curve increase in construction site efficiency.


1.) Land Surveying: The ubiquity of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) replacing

traditional methods of land surveillance is becoming so popular that some people are beginning to refer to aerial views as a “drones eye view” as opposed to the conventional “birds’ eye view.” From drastically reducing the time and manpower it would take a typical team of workers to survey land to producing more accurate work free from the mar of human error, drones equipped with cameras to capture video footage are already being used as valid alternatives. Being able to capture critical data in a fraction of the time it would normally take is a huge advantage of drones that lends to jobsite efficiency and accuracy.


Who’s Using Them?





2.) Improved Infrastructure: Cuts in costs and time aren’t the only way drones are

revving up construction. The industry is increasingly turning to drones as a means to improve the actual quality of buildings. Having the type of superior intelligence and endurance drones provide on jobsites is a huge advantage for the industry, as it greatly increases the rate at which work can be completed by removing the need for manual labor. The industry is already starting to see a reliance on drones to build better infrastructure through drones that perform integral tasks like quickly and efficiently building skyscrapers. Being able to seamlessly integrate a rising technology that can perform functions at an unparalleled speed to complete projects means meeting more deadlines under more budgets, which always leads to more money and a boom in efficiency.


Who’s Using Them?


  • Construction giant Komatsu turned to drones as far back as January, using them to automate a great deal of early foundation work on various construction sites for faster, more efficient results. Their ultimate goal is to “automate the construction site, leaving humans to program the machines and then push a button to send them to work,” to take advantage of a technology that creates superior construction almost entirely autonomously. For Komatsu, relying on drones wouldn’t only solve their employee shortage problem, but provide a more accurate and reliable foundation upon which construction is set to take place.


3.) Management & Communication: Technology has evolved to allow a surplus of instant communication and connectivity, but now drones are also being looked to as a form of constant contact on the jobsite. Drones outfitted with cameras are becoming an increasing presence in the construction field to communicate video footage to and from workers, employees, superintendents, architects and investors. Management and communication is already seeing a steep increase in efficiency because of the fast paced, real-time data a lot of these drones are transmitting, allowing off the cuff decisions to be made instantly. Fewer delays and time lags are becoming more of a reality each day, and eventually, real-time data will be a standard on jobsites to keep everyone connected. The type of 24/7 workflow drones can provide on worksites allow money and time to be saved and provides workers with the ability to efficiently complete projects.


Who’s Using Them?


  • Heavy hitting construction engineering firms like AECOM, Bechtel, and DPR Construction have all experimented with the benefits of drone management. From aerial imagery for surveying to logistical planning and monitoring jobsite activity, drones are piping data directly to the cloud in real time and making it possible for engineers to collaborate remotely, no matter where they are. Instant connectivity is a huge efficiency booster and saves time and money.


  • Bouygues Construction, based in France, credits drones as the reason behind the company having better control over lead times, costs, and risks, having zero production disturbances, and having the distinct advantage of real-time data analysis. After implementing drones into so many aspects of work, the company explicitly stands behind drones as a means of better worksite maintenance and management.


Improved Security


Thanks to drones, construction jobsites are seeing a drastic spike in increased security measures and jobsite surveillance. Whether drones are being used as a means of keeping employees out of harm’s way or a tool to protect the jobsite from vandals and crime, drones are seeing a steady progression forwards in the security department. Here’s how drones are improving security.


1.) Jobsite Surveillance: Drones are changing the game and making strides in jobsite surveillance by being able to be almost everywhere at once. Reducing material theft, increasing worker safety, tracking and following workers while they’re on the job, and creating a 24/7 monitorial presence in real-time has already become a reality for a lot of construction firms, boosting the rates of onsite safety and security by a large margin. And while the FAA’s Evaluation and Economic Drone Study muddles the middle area of how and where you’re allowed to implement drones, as long as the drone weighs less than 4.4 pounds and travels less than 400 feet, it’s considered a “Hobby Class” drone and can be flown anywhere, for any purpose (as of now). Drones have also proved to be vastly beneficial in surveying dangerous locations and, because they can survey those difficult areas, have the potential to reduce the number of work-related accidents, thereby increasing onsite safety.


Who’s Using Them?


  • Siemens powerhouse is already using drone implementation for jobsite surveillance in Aspern, Austria. The Aspern Vienna Urban Lakeside project is considered to be “one of the biggest and most innovative urban development projects in Europe” that’s meant to set new standards for energy efficiency and environmental balance. Siemens has been using drones to monitor the progress of construction as well as the jobsite itself, and they’re also using drone surveillance as an alternative to deploying inspectors to dangerous and difficult-to-access areas.


  • Bechtel’s recent partnership with Skycatch has seen the duo lean on drone technology to keep the construction site safe and secure. Bechtel released a statement this month saying they plan to use drone technology to, “collect real-time environmental data (e.g. air quality, temperature, etc.) to ensure safe operation of projects; to survey difficult and inaccessible terrain to provide accurate information needed for our engineering teams to design facilities efficiently and with improved environmental footprint…” so they can better enable their team with a safe work environment where construction can happen at a much more efficient rate.


2.) Inspection & Transportation: Jobsite inspection, in some instances, can be a real danger and safety hazard, while transportation of materials, tools, and equipment can also prove to be a burden depending upon location and accessibility. What a lot of construction sites are discovering is that deploying drones to transport goods aerially, sending them out for difficult site inspections, and using them to keep track of what comes and goes from the jobsite is saving time, money, and keeping the jobsite secure. Especially because of drones’ typically small and easy to maneuver size, they’re increasingly being used as an alternative to trucks and onsite vehicles. And because drones have no traffic laws to abide by, they usually make the delivery in half the time, and half the resources. Drones are great for keeping track of tools that are easy to lose and have been used in many different instances as the preferred form of patrol or inspection.


Who’s Using Them?


  • The United States Customs and Border Protection have been using Predator drones since 2012 to monitor the entire nation’s borders. And although it’s not an example of drones in construction, it serves as a great example of how drones are increasingly being relied upon for site inspection and monitoring.


  • In Germany an Octocopter, created by German researcher Christian Eschmann of the Fraunhofer Institute for Non-Destructive Testing IZFP, services hundred-old European buildings by physically flying out to the building and surveying its condition. Instead of driving a crew out to the site, deploying materials and tools to survey and check the building, and, in some instances, putting workers in danger by working in a decayed environment, drones are eliminating travel time and worker related risks.


Although those are the two biggest changes we’ve personally observed in the construction industry as a result of drones, that’s not to say they’re not impacting other areas of the traditional jobsite as well. In fact, you can count a whole slew of things drones are changing. From mapping to imaging to tracking, drones are just beginning to scratch the surface of their true potential, and a few years’ time will reveal the real longevity behind this emerging new technology.

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