When you think about actual, functional technology that evokes a futuristic feeling, drones must appear on your mind. Their ability to take off, land, and perform a wide variety of other functions with minimal human intervention makes them remarkable. They’re small enough to fit in hard to reach places and quickly find the issue and report back to human supervisors.
With C&E firms facing more restrictive project deadlines than ever, the pressure is on to save time and effort wherever possible. Drones offer many uses that can save firms time and money, and the cost of entry for initiating a drone program can be just a few thousand dollars. They can be autonomous, programmed to perform tasks at certain times, gather data, photos, or video on their own accord, and upload everything to a cloud server. This can be useful when tracking inventory at multi-acre construction sites or large warehouses.
Better Inventory Management — Indoors or Out
Traditionally, inventory management was always done with a clipboard-toting employee walking or driving a site and manually recording their findings with pen and paper. This slow and time-consuming process wasn’t just inefficient. It was subject to human error. Running out of project materials can grind work to a halt while ordering too much impacts the budget, so inventory tracking should be done quickly and accurately.
Drones can be programmed to fly several times a day if needed. They can easily track quantities and locations of key project materials much faster and with a higher degree of precision than any human.
This applies both to outdoor construction sites, where it can hover above and scan inventory stockpiles using its 3D mapping capabilities, and in large warehouses or indoor production facilities, where autonomous drones can be equipped with barcode scanners and automatically record everything coming in or out. Materials stockpiles can change rapidly, and drones’ ability to autonomously scan palettes or piles from the air can help companies avoid large change orders or project delays.
Procore integration partner DroneDeploy uses drone-captured aerial imagery to perform a variety of inventory tasks. It can help determine what materials are needed for a specific project, where they’re located, and how long it will take to receive more when needed. Thus, this technology takes nearly all of the guesswork out of inventory management. One of its included features, Stockpile Reports, gives companies a comprehensive record of all stockpiled materials, accessible from anywhere.
Autonomous Inventory Tracking
UK firm Project 7 Construction wanted a better way to track and locate its inventory, which spanned two separate five-acre construction sites. The company felt the process of manually locating materials took way too much time, and it wanted employees to be able to find any materials from a computer or tablet.
To solve their problem, Project 7 turned to ProDroneWorx. It devised a method for tracking inventory at both sites using high-resolution orthomosaic boundary measurements and a grid-based tagging and mapping system. By visually dividing the sites into more manageable grid sections, Project 7 managed to visually identify any piece of material in each section, and the orthomosaic allowed for accurate relative measurements. Since it was all done by an autonomous drone, almost no human intervention was required.
“The use of drone technology and the digital information it produces has transformed our inventory management by saving us both time and money. What used to take weeks can now take just a few days while the digital information has benefited us enormously through better collaboration and communication,” Project 7 Construction told UK Construction Online.