Remote controlled unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), better known as drones, started out as military tools before finding a wide range of consumer and professional uses that are still emerging. According to the 2019 United States Drone Market Report, the U.S. commercial drone market is expected to quadruple by 2024.¹
Long before “drone” became a household word, though, the utility construction industry was an early adopter – for good reason: Large construction projects typically take 20% longer than expected and run up to 80% over budget.² We’re happy to report that these averages do not reflect Danella. Still, they speak to estimating, efficiency, and accuracy challenges faced every day by construction and utility companies including ours. The good news? Drones (and related drone software) have taken the edge off of these hurdles through two functions in particular – aerial data collection and transport – which are being leveraged in a few key ways:
Pre-Construction Site Inspections and Surveys
Their ability to acquire visual data from above makes drones ideal for inspections and surveys. Danella’s Pennsylvania Construction division has been using drones for pre-inspections since 2018. Not only can drones capture worksites from angles human surveyors can’t; they do it in a fraction of the time, offering comprehensive and affordable images that can be analyzed and overlaid on CAD/construction drawings and other essential planning elements.
For the same reasons drones benefit inspections, they’re also ideal for job monitoring. An image captured by a drone at any point during a job’s progress can – with relative ease and minimal spending – ensure work meets client, company, or quality standards, highlight problems and potential problems, and clearly and comprehensively track progress.
A fringe benefit of drones’ ability to survey spaces from above is their positive bearing on job site safety. Drones don’t just identify hazards that might pose risks to surveyors and work crews – they do it without putting humans in the precarious position of entering hazardous areas or manning an aerial craft.
Of course, drones can introduce new worksite hazards while offsetting traditional ones. Safety risks related to unmanned flying vehicles are only beginning to emerge. In the meantime, be sure to invest in drone operator training as well as airtight standards and policies that mitigate risk to operators as well as workers and humans on the ground.³
Transporting goods aerially by drone has a number of benefits: Fuel savings, larger cost savings, and easier tracking of everything that enters and leaves a jobsite. Danella recently capitalized on drones’ transport capabilities when it attached a fiber optic cable to a drone to complete a telecommunications job spanning the Delaware River.
Looking for a utility construction contractor that’s looking ahead, capitalizing on drones’ potential for accuracy and efficacy? Reach out to a Danella Division today.