Here’s Why You Need to Inspect Your Unused Assets – and How Drones Can Help

Unused facilities, assets, and equipment can deteriorate rapidly, leaving your company on the hook for major safety or financial concerns down the road.

Recently, a client hired me to use drones to investigate a property they were considering purchasing in California. The land was well off the beaten path, about two hours from civilization in the Mojave Desert.

In addition to the 100-acre parcel, the buyer believed a small abandoned cabin existed on site. 

It was a bit of a trek to arrive at the site, and trail was almost nonexistent in a few areas. Traversing some of the terrain was a challenge, even in a vehicle designed for off-road adventures.  

Two things came to mind when I arrived and saw the cabin.

Initially, I wondered who had built this extremely remote house and what their story was.

Second, I thought of how unused facilities naturally deteriorate, and how drones can help monitor those buildings between use and vacancy periods.

Because although unused homes might not concern your business much, if your company has unused facilities like warehouses, chimney stacks, or other large structures, you might find yourself facing some major financial or safety issues down the road.

Let’s take a look at some of the problems that can occur, and why inspecting unused facilities with drones can keep you from running into further problems later on. 

Why Monitor Unused Facilities?

If you haven’t spent time around abandoned or unused facilities, it may seem like monitoring an unused asset is unnecessary.

Many businesses have buildings, facilities, towers, smoke stacks, or large equipment that which remain on the books but otherwise go unused.

Unfortunately, several things can occur to negatively affect the condition of these sites, even if they are not currently in use. 

Eventually, nature breaks down any man-made structure or piece of equipment, no matter how well constructed. Even seemingly impenetrable structures made of concrete and steel eventually succumb to the relentless abuse of the natural environment.

Wind, water, extreme temperatures, and salt are just a few things that can wreak havoc on structures. 

In addition to the natural world, people can also negatively impact the value of your vacant property.

I once conducted a map survey with my drone in an area approximately three hours away from the nearest road, and four hours away from the nearest services. I, along with the owner, was shocked to find a homeless encampment on the property.

People find a way of using what appears to be abandoned. The level of interaction with a site can range from exploration to full occupation.

The bottom line is that unless you monitor your vacant facilities, there is no telling what’s happening to them or who is taking up residency in them.

You can spend lots of money on having teams of people keep your assets safe, or accomplish the same with drones – without spending excess amounts of cash.

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Related: Modern Businesses Are Embracing Drone Technology. Here's Why (click image to learn more)

How Can Drones Help Monitor Unused Facilities?

The traditional method for monitoring unused properties would involve on-site security or having someone inspect the sight periodically. However, both of these methods are expensive, and less efficient than using drones for the same task.

Security personnel are expensive, and individuals sent periodically to check on a sight often only conduct a quick visual inspection. 

Drones can perform both  security inspections and more in-depth inspections, such as those needed for preventive maintenance, quickly and affordably.

Some sites, especially large ones, risk losing their value due to vandalism, trespassing, and squatting. While on-site security can monitor for the presence of people, it comes at a cost. In addition to the hourly pay of security personnel are costs such as unemployment, disability, and 401Ks.

Drones can also monitor facilities, but without requiring these additional costs. In some cases, drone-in-a-box solutions can remain on-site and even eliminate the need for a pilot.

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Related: Hoping to Achieve Net-Zero Emissions Goals? Drones Can Help (click image to learn more)

Preventing Further Damage

When it comes to ensuring nature is held at bay, drones can perform a wide range of inspection missions to allow you to meet nature head-on.

Just before a site is left vacant, drones can create detailed digital twins of the facility. Using these digital twins, you can detect even the slightest changes every time the drone conducts another aerial inspection. As a result, you’ll be able to address any problems as needed, before they become major financial or safety concerns.

When equipped with thermal cameras, drones can fly over a site and detect leaks in the roof, overheating components, and cracks in walls. Of course, those are only a few of the possibilities UAV thermal inspections can provide.

You can then use this information to perform maintenance to protects your unused asset’s value. That’s much more information than would be gained from having someone drive by your asset just to ensure the site hasn’t burned down.

Further, some assets can pose safety issues if left unchecked. Large towers or chimneys, for instance, can deteriorate to the point of creating safety concerns. Through periodic drone inspections, you can quickly determine if action is needed to repair or safely dismantle an asset, before it causes injury.

Key Takeaways

Unused assets are often treated with an out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality.

However, just because they aren’t in use doesn’t mean your company is off the hook for them. 

In reality, maintaining the value of these assets requires periodic inspections and maintenance as needed.

And, through the use of drones, you can monitor unused facilities or assets at a fraction of the cost seen in traditional methods.

If you want to see how UAV technology can help you maintain your vacant property, speak with an expert today. 

So, are you ready to take advantage of drones for your organization? If so, 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.

Whether you’re looking for facility inspections, fugitive methane detection, help creating digital twins, large-scale site surveys, or anything else, we’re here to help!

Ready to learn more? Just complete the form below to schedule a risk-free consultation!

Picture of 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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