Drones have emerged as huge multipliers for businesses across multiple sectors, and the construction industry is one of the bigger ones where drones have had a huge impact on the way projects are planned, executed, and monitored. The uptake of drones within construction is expected to save the industry AUD $1.8 to $4.3 billion between 2020 to 20401. Drones have enabled construction companies to achieve unprecedented levels of efficiency, accuracy, and safety. In this guide, we will explore the various applications of drones in the construction industry and delve into how they can optimise workflows, enhance project management, and deliver business efficiencies. If you’re a pilot, own a drone service business, or are looking at using drones in your construction project, the guide below will help you either win over new clients or improve your efficiency.
Aerial Surveys and Mapping
Enterprise level drones are equipped with high-resolution cameras and advanced sensors such as LiDAR which become invaluable tools for construction sites conducting aerial surveys and mapping construction sites. By capturing detailed images and data from above, drones enable construction professionals to obtain accurate topographic information, generate 3D models, and create digital twins of the construction site. This allows construction companies to improve planning, design, and decision making throughout the project lifecycle.
Site Inspections and Safety
Traditionally, site inspections are time consuming and potentially hazardous. Drones offer a vastly safer and more efficient alternative. Drones with high-resolution visual cameras coupled with thermal sensors are able to inspect structures or cladding for defects, identify safety hazards such as overheating plant or power transmissions, and gauge potential water leakage and ingress.
Construction Monitoring and Progress Reporting
Tracking construction progress is critical for project managers to maintain project timelines and construction deadlines. Drones can be programmed to capture images and videos from the exact same positions in the sky, over a period of time. This enables construction teams to monitor the evolution of the site accurately. Furthermore overlaying top down aerial views with project plans, construction and project managers can identify discrepancies, measure the completion of tasks, and assess overall project progress. These insights facilitate better and easier project management, streamline communications with crews on the ground, and enhance collaboration with stakeholders using real data.
Building Information Modelling (BIM) / 3D Digital Twins
A digital representation through Building Information Modelling (3D digital twins) of the physical characteristics in a construction project enables professionals to check measurements and images captured by drones through LiDAR or photogrammetry in BIM software. Likewise 3D digital twin representations of the construction site allows stakeholders to visualise the project, detect clashes or design issues earlier, and make informed decisions regarding material quantities, resource allocation, and project planning.
Drones have emerged into various industries as indispensable tools, more so within the construction industry, changing traditional practices to enhance efficiency, cost effectiveness, and increase safety. From aerial surveys, site inspections, construction monitoring and digital twins, drones offer construction professionals a comprehensive suite of capabilities. By leveraging these advanced technologies, companies can optimise workflows, reduce project costs, mitigate risks, and deliver better results to stakeholders.