You must have heard the stories of inefficient practices and inadequacy in the construction industry. But when you put a number to these inefficiencies in terms of cost, like how $177 billion is getting wasted per year due to industry-wide carelessness or the volume of construction waste is going to increase to 2.2 billion tons by 2025, the dire situation becomes all the more real.
The reason behind these inadequacies can be traced back to the fact that the sector has been slow to adopt technologies that can show instant results, like drone technology in construction. While several companies have adopted drones in construction, contributing to the global construction drone market, which was valued at $4,800 million in 2019, and is projected to reach $11,968.6 million by 2027, however, the adoption on a mass scale is still limited.
The intent of our article today is to dive deep into the role of drones in the construction industry and how drones have the potential to solve long-term industrial issues.
Why choose drones for construction projects – a high-level analysis
Drone, with their downward-facing sensors like the thermal, multispectral, LIDAR, and RGB, can capture a massive amount of aerial data in a short time. The data points help companies manage many challenges like costly and time-taking surveys, identification of construction mistakes, deadlines, penalties, and miscommunication between contractors and stakeholders.
Drone technology in the construction industry also introduces new applications that were earlier hard to access or even track, such as inspecting hard-to-reach areas or optimizing construction sites. As the domain grows, the use and impact of drones in construction will continue to grow. Here are the different benefits of drone technology in construction.
What are the benefits of drones in construction?
With a unique aerial advantage and real-time data recording functionality, drone technology in the construction industry can increase efficiency, lower costs, and streamline workflows. Above all, drone technology empowers the construction industry with the right information at the right time, thus ensuring that the project gets finished within the time and budget.
Following topographic maps is critical when it comes to planning large-scale construction projects. The maps help divulge design mistakes due to a lack of focus on terrains. Even though maps are crucial in a construction project, they are extremely expensive to build, leading to construction firms not prioritizing them.
At the back of the expertise in terms of mapping wide areas, drones for construction sites come in handy when visualizing the site’s topography, thus helping projects be on schedule and budget. Moreover, the images produced by the different types of drones used in construction can be used for building 3D models enabling the construction workers to highlight issues in the pre-construction stage itself.
The issue almost every construction manager faces is losing equipment on a job site. Using drone technology in construction can help workers do a flyover and assess if the material is where it is supposed to be. Another way it helps is recognizing if any equipment which should be terminated is still on-site, thus preventing expensive accidental damage.
Drone use in construction can also be seen in identifying equipment malfunctioning. The recording feature that the different types of drones used in construction are equipped with can help identify challenges remotely and offer visuals that would help technicians with quicker diagnostics and repairs.
Construction monitoring using drones is one of the top benefits of using the technology. It can generate aerial views that give clients a complete view of how the project is progressing, ensuring that their spending will not be wasted. Additionally, it helps better internal communication by sending real-time information to the teams involved in different project phases.
Through drone construction monitoring, it becomes easy for different departments – engineering, construction managers, workers, and owners to access the data simultaneously and catch any prominent issue in the process.
According to a report by the National Equipment Register, more than $300 million worth of construction equipment gets stolen from job sites every year, making equipment security a key part of the job.
When using drones in construction, the drone operator can quickly fly over to ensure that equipment is in a safe area, identify unauthorized individuals on-site, and take note of damage or theft in real time. With these practices, construction companies can save thousands of dollars that get spent on stolen equipment.
According to the data reported by the National Safety Council, fatal construction injuries are estimated to cost $5 billion every year in the US alone. Now, while there are policies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in place that have penalties to the tune of $13,653 to $136,532 in case of violations, the incidents of workplace accidents are not seeing a downfall. Workers often climb on unsteady platforms, work in hazardous conditions, and use unsafe equipment.
Using drones in the construction industry, construction managers can use videos to monitor the work site for safety concerns, ensuring that the site is suitable for working and does not pose any hazards.
Another use of drones in construction can be seen through the fact that they can be flown between structures to check their stability. Moreover, drones built with thermal sensors can identify heat leaks, electrical issues, and cold spots for construction quality analysis.
Another use case of drones in terms of inspection can be seen in the planned maintenance of large-scale architectures like towers, bridges, scaffolding, and roofs – a task that can be handled in a few hours through drone technology in construction management.
Reduction in expenses
The biggest impact of using drone technology in the construction industry in terms of expenses can be seen in surveys. A surveyor usually charges $100 per hour, while a drone surveyor works on a $120 per hour mode. However, a drone surveyor will only need to work 40 hours per calendar year, leading to $4800 annual surveying fees. On the other hand, a traditional surveyor will be required to work at least 1300 hours for a complete survey, costing a total of $130,000.
Optimizing surveying costs will be substantial for large construction firms with complex, big-scale projects. Here are the different activities they will be able to save on –
- Construction site analysis
- Project planning and design
- Asset inventory
- Project collaboration
Now that we have looked at the use of drones in the construction industry, it is necessary to understand that your one investment in this technology will last across all phases of real estate project development. Here’s an infographic highlighting the role of drones across the different construction phases.
While we have dived into the different application of drone-based solutions in the construction market for a business it all boils down to the money – the cost of acquiring drones and its ROI.
The cost of acquiring drones in construction and the expected returns
The price of a drone varies anywhere between $2,500 to $100,000 depending on the sensors, requirements around flying time, swath, accuracy, and file type, etc., in addition to the hardware cost, you will have to pay for the drone surveyor – the salary of whom can be $55,651 every year.
The returns on these expenses, however, surpass the investments. As mentioned above, drones bring down the survey cost to $4800 annually and the time to only 40 hours annually. Another non-direct way it brings the construction expenses down is:
- Paying the contractors only for the percentage of earth they moved
- Faster decisions at the back of real-time images and data
- 3D models highlighting mistakes in design and other developmental challenges
- Proactive correction of structural issues
- Timely identification of faulty equipments
- Post-project documentation
While the present state of drones in the construction industry is very promising, what does the future of drones in construction hold? The technology can be expected to manage the delivery of lightweight materials in the coming time, in addition to new models coming in with more advanced integrations like AI for processing data or IoT connecting smart equipment with drones. In addition, we can expect more regulations to favor the commercial use of the technology on a global scale.
How can Appinventiv help you introduce drone technology in construction?
Until now, we have given a multi-faceted answer to how drones are used in construction. Now while the technology is not new in the industry, construction firms are finding new models for its inclusion. The best thing about using drones in the construction industry is that the technology can be incorporated across all the stages of development – something that we excel at in our role as the leading real estate app development company.
At Appinventiv, an AI app development company, we specialize in incorporating construction-specific drones in your real estate business model so that you get detailed software that consists of multiple interfaces, each addressing different elements of your construction plan and digital requirements.
What differentiates us from other real estate software development firms is that we pay close attention to the regulations on starting a construction drone program, ensuring that you don’t face any legal hurdles. So when you partner with us for your construction drone idea, you can be assured that your project will be made to scale as your business grows, and it will be made to give you all the benefits surrounding the technology.
If you, too, are looking to introduce drone technology in construction, we are the team who can help. Get in touch with us today.