Here’s How Drones Help With Real-Time Construction Monitoring

With about $10 trillion spent annually on goods and services, the construction industry is one of the largest in the global economy.
 
In fact, it makes up roughly 13% of the world’s GDP, while employing over 7.4 million workers worldwide. That’s why industry experts are always looking for ways to streamline processes to improve both efficiency and safety.

Now, anyone who’s ever worked in or around construction sites know: they are dynamic environments, with constantly moving pieces.

The careful orchestration of people, heavy equipment, and building materials requires a delicate balance and constant monitoring.

Building projects represent significant capital investments, and time is money.

Even small errors can significantly change the completion date of a building project and impact stakeholders at every level.

As the former vice president of a construction company, I can tell you from experience – keeping projects on-time and on-budget is first and foremost. More often than not, building contracts include financial penalties that quickly eat away at profits if timelines and quality standards are not met. 

That’s where drones can come in and really make a difference.

Stakeholders at every level — from executives to site superintendents — find that the data collected from drones is both timely, useful, and highly accurate. The ability to quickly launch a drone and gain a real-time assessment of an active construction site is a game-changer. While payload additions such as LiDAR provide hyper-targeted geographical data.

Here, we break down how drones help with real-time construction monitoring, and how that affects your bottom line.

The Challenge of Project Management

Ensuring everything flows smoothly on the job site is the responsibility of a project management professional.

Weekly or even daily progress reports are standard, typically consisting of a superintendent or crew foreman confirming whether or not they are on schedule.

However, while this may help make sure your project is in line with Gantt charts and deadlines, it doesn’t paint a complete picture of the construction site.

Because the reports aren’t in real-time, the information is already old by the time it’s presented. Without real-time data, accurate decisions are difficult at best.

So, the key question remains: How can project managers, inspectors, superintendents, and other stakeholders accurately understand the status of a construction site?

The Advantages of Drones

As with many modern challenges, advances in UAV technology are providing the solution.

Real-time construction site monitoring with drones is changing how planners and decision-makers monitor progress on site.

The major advantages of using drones for these applications are decreased building times, cost-savings, and improved utilization of assets on site.

Understanding the status of a build is critical. Drones can fly over a site and transmit the feed to planners in real-time. Even from remote locations, senior management can monitor the site as it is being built, one nail at a time.

The video feed offered by drones can be compared to expected timelines for various phases of the build with ease.

Problems are quickly identified, and people and resources shifted to compensate for the issue, keeping the project on schedule. The drone may even highlight areas where efficiencies can be gained to decrease building times.

If needed, drones can also capture scans of the project, producing incredibly accurate 3D orthomosaic models of the site. Now, planners can understand like never before the status of a build.

The detail of a drone’s 3D scan is so precise that site inspectors can use the 3D models to check for potential structural issues — such as cracking concrete or improperly installed supports – before they become a more significant problem.

3D scans with drones also help managers by providing a digital copy of infrastructure and buildings for future reference.

These models become invaluable to maintenance personal once the project is completed.

Cost Benefits

The cost of a construction project can move out of budget quickly.

One of the more costly mistakes is running out of materials and paying a crew to stand around while waiting for supplies. But by using UAVs, the status of material stockpiles such as gravel and lumber can be seen in real-time.

Project managers can use this information to order supplies before running out, avoiding downtime and saving money.

Additionally, many assets on a construction site must be shared. Heavy equipment, in particular, is incredibly expensive, and rarely available for everyone.

Because of this, the scheduling of assets between crews is common. Smaller construction firms typically rent heavy equipment for a few days to accomplish specific tasks.

In many cases, there’s a lot of downtime for this machinery. But by flying over an area, drones can provide planners with the current status of heavy equipment use.

For instance, suppose a crew isn’t using a particular asset assigned to them. In that case, planners can reallocate it to another crew, potentially return the equipment sooner, and save money – thus bringing in a project under budget.

Takeaways

Monitoring construction projects is a challenging task. But by using drones, getting the information you need isn’t.

Ensuring people, materials, and equipment work together seamlessly is by no means easy. With real-time site monitoring, drones give project managers the ability to see a site’s progress like never before.

Whether it’s a 3D scan, a digital twin, asset allocation, or progress information, drones offer unique solutions to keep your project running smooth.

If you are involved in the construction industry, integrating drones into your site monitoring process is a must. The economic benefits of the technology are simply  too beneficial to pass up.

So, which drone is right for you? And, how do you get started? Do you hire out or bring your drone program in-house?

At Consortiq, we help you find a better way with drones, from consultation and program implementation to actually doing the work for you. Ready to learn more? Just complete the form below to schedule a risk-free consultation!

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly, is an award-winning photographer/writer and licensed (FAA) Commercial sUAS pilot. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, David is a former Marine Corps officer with a BS in Oceanography and has earned his MBA from the University of Redlands. David has worked for Fortune 100 companies and has a background in aerospace, construction, military/defense, real estate, and technology.

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