Improving safety and efficiency on projects is an important consideration for any construction company, and to that end, some are turning to drones to take on all manner of tasks.
You may have already seen a drone buzzing around a jobsite. The range of uses for these zippy little remote-controlled vehicles in construction are vast, and at a relatively low cost of entry. They’re being used to photograph projects to monitor progress, equipment tracking, efficiently deploy on-site resources and inspect difficult-to-reach projects like bridges or high-rise buildings for quality control. But that’s just the beginning.
Where Drones Meet the Cloud
The data collected by drones is typically stored in the cloud, which then is turned into usable maps and models by human operators on the ground.
Drones can be equipped with 3D mapping sensors that, using lasers, collect data at any stage of a construction project. Using software, that data can be turned into highly detailed 3D structural models, volumetric measurements and even topographical maps. And it can be done much faster, safer and with greater accuracy than their earthbound human counterparts.
The linchpin to turning this advanced data collection is the software, and many companies are emerging to offer their own versions to construction companies looking to incorporate drones into their roster of workers.
Moreover, using drones to monitor ongoing projects is a way project managers can ensure the job is being done on time and on budget, without requiring daily visits back and forth between jobsites.
Drone technology enables a much more granular look at progress on the ground, ensuring resources are being properly distributed, taking note of potential problems and mitigating them before they start.
That’s where cloud-based construction management tools like Procore and DroneDeploy come in. With project management software powered by drone insights, it’s possible to view your jobsite in a whole new way. And ultimately, provide you with the information and communication tools required to keep projects running on schedule and budget.
Here are three ways you can put this technology to work on your next project:
1. Site Planning and Design
Drones shorten the time it takes to conduct site surveys, so you can place bids fast, and accelerate the planning and design process with highly accurate drone-generated maps and 3D models. You can even overlay drone maps with site plans such as utility, wastewater, and equipment clearances. For more advanced oversight and planning, export drone maps into BIM, GIS and CAD software.
2. Progress Tracking and Reporting
Weekly drone maps reduce the amount of time spent walking a site to monitor, track progress, and inspect for safety issues. It’s also easy to repeat flights each week for consistency and create a comprehensive visual record of a project.
Your team can also leverage built-in analyses tools to generate progress reports for internal and external stakeholders, or compare real-time site conditions against plans—so you can catch deviations before they add weeks to your timeline. Each map can be exported to your Procore project album, so your entire team can be kept up-to-date on any changes to the jobsite.
3. Real-Time Communication and Collaboration
Drones simplify communication and information sharing, both internally and externally. Aerial imagery keeps entire teams aligned and informed with up-to-date, easily digestible visual data. Since DroneDeploy is cloud-based it’s easy to share annotated maps between team members in real time from the field, or keep external stakeholders up-to-speed on the progress of a project through share links and interactive 3D models of a jobsite. By communicating in real time, with the latest information from the field, you can shave days—or even weeks—off your timeline, and avoid added costs associated with paper-based documentation and communication.