Advancements in technology are allowing construction sites to operate more safely and efficiently.
It’s the 21st century, and construction is evolving to keep up with the latest technological advancements. Though it may seem like something out of science fiction, drones are the latest trend in the realm of construction. But what benefits do they bring to an active construction site?
Firstly, aerial drones — the type you might have seen zooming around at concerts or other open spaces — can benefit a project before any construction work even begins. By surveying a site from above, they can save time and ultimately money on land surveys. Drone data can even be used to recreate 3D models of the site on a computer to further prep for the job. This is essential in anticipating the scale and budget of a project.
Once a project is underway, a drone can still play an immensely beneficial role. Project managers can use aerial drones to keep track of equipment and even prevent theft. Regular drone surveillance of a site, especially of a complicated, busy project, ensures that everything is running smoothly and allows project managers to focus on other important tasks.
Drones can also be used to keep an eye on workplace safety, and even mitigate high-risk situations. They can assess structures before workers enter them to ensure that nothing is unstable. Using computer software, drone footage can even provide accurate measurements, which can eliminate the need for workers to put themselves in hazardous situations to take manual measurements.
Additionally, a key industry trend across construction is providing visual updates for clients. With remote work becoming increasingly common, everyone from designers to engineers to investors expect to access regular footage of the ongoing project. This also ensures any mistakes or misunderstandings can be caught and corrected immediately, rather than weeks or even months into a costly project.
The completion of a construction project involves many phases of inspection, and drones can also play a critical role in expediting this process. Advanced photography and videography can be used to confirm if hard-to-reach aspects of a build are up to par. Some drones are even able to use thermal imaging to check for electrical wiring malfunctions or other issues. This helps the end stage of a project run smoothly and also helps protect workers who might otherwise find themselves in precarious situations.
The construction industry has been slower than other sectors to adapt drone technology, but it can have a massive impact on budget and timeline. Large-scale infrastructure projects in particular have a lot to gain from drones — for instance, railroads and roads that span hundreds of miles. However, even smaller projects can reap the benefits mentioned above, as drones provide a project manager with greater flexibility and oversight.
Though the initial investment can be high depending on the type of technology, drones have become cheaper over the past decades, and end up being a return on one’s investment. Another issue are the regulations in place regarding the use of drones, which vary by location — and staying up to date with these laws can add cost to a project. It’s often recommended to start small, either by partnering with a drone subcontractor on a project or using a drone for a small element of a build rather than replacing numerous aspects of a project with drone technology.
Drones, like much consumer technology, continue to become cheaper, more accessible, and more capable as time passes. With every project that uses drone technology, the documentation can be saved and referenced for future projects — ultimately allowing for more efficiency with each build. Drones are already being used in many applications such as mining, agriculture, and urban planning, so it’s only a matter of time until the construction industry catches up to this trend.