Drone technology is more accessible than ever, and you can use them in your construction business. From photography and marketing to project management and site assessment, here’s how modern builders are using drones in construction.
Unlike most major industries, construction hasn’t seen much automation. In recent years, however, drone technology has begun to change this.
In a 2016 report, PricewaterhouseCoopers estimated the entire market for commercial drone technology at $127 billion. Of that, more than $45 billion was attributed to construction use. On the other hand, although it tends to get more press, the autonomous drone delivery market was only estimated at $13 billion.
Since this report, drone technology has really taken off among builders. As they have begun to see that unmanned aerial vehicles are not just toys, construction companies are leveraging the technology to lower costs, increase efficiency and set themselves apart from the competition.
How Builders Are Using Them
Unmanned aerial vehicles can bring big benefits to construction companies who know how to use them. Some of the advantages include:
- Drones are useful for builders and land developers who want to save time during site surveys or who need to examine hard-to-reach areas.
- Thanks to drone technology, it’s also easier and cheaper than ever to get in-depth aerial views of a building or land development.
- While it may ordinarily take 30 minutes to an hour to walk an entire subdivision, a drone can fly over an entire site in ten minutes or less.
- Many builders use drones to capture images that help them market finished homes.
- Others use them for information gathering on speculative homes to determine elevations and to attain additional perspectives of potential designs.
- More and more builders are using drones to survey stockpiles, check inventory, monitor worker activity and conduct site inspections.
- Since developments can be expansive, both outward and upward, it can take a long time for teams of people to move around a site. On the other hand, drone technology allows a single operator to gather gigabytes of data in a matter of hours.
Drones also bring a novelty to a project that can really raise eyebrows. Many builders use them to help create a perception among clients that they are more efficient and cutting-edge. This can provide a competitive advantage, when compared to traditional construction outfits.
Things to Consider
While they are a relatively newer technology, drones have already become a cost-effective resource. A viable model only costs a few hundred dollars, and drone camera attachments are also moderately priced, depending on their capabilities.
Before they attempt to utilize unmanned aerial vehicles, however, builders should familiarize themselves with the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) commercial drone regulations and guidelines. Among the most important rules include a requirement that pilots hold “remote pilot airman certificates” issued by the FAA. There are also some very strict rules about when and how commercial drones should be used.
Since an oversight could lead to major fines and even the suspension of a job site, it’s best to become familiar with every regulatory detail. You should also check with your individual state to see if it imposes any unique rules and regulations relating the commercial drone use.
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