The following post was written by Chris Grillo for DroneBase. Chris Grillo is a freelance writer and journalist who works with clients in tech and product development.
The Best Tool in the Box
For builders and developers, the surveying and modeling phase of any project is critical to timeline, and ultimately, profitability. Despite this, traditional surveying and modeling is flawed and leaves room for error. Whether that error is human, or the result of unforeseen circumstances like equipment issues or access to the building site, the factors at play in land surveying are many and the systems currently in place to manage all of the necessary considerations are in some ways inefficient.
According to a 2016 report by McKinsey & Company, Capital Projects and Infrastructure, the construction industry is among the least digitized of economic sectors, second only to agriculture and hunting. This fact raises many questions about the efficacy of construction particularly with regards to surveying accuracy.
As manufacturing costs in technology have steadily decreased, so have the prices of high tech, professional grade equipment like unmanned aerial vehicles or drones. When considering the survey equipment that already exists as accessories to drones, it is easy to hypothesize how drone use could benefit the preconstruction and design stages of construction.
Refinements to the industry as a result of drone implementation may extend beyond the modeling and surveying phase of a project, however. In thinking outside the box, some developers have identified ways in which drones can add value to the construction phase as well.
What’s more, all of these benefits are extremely marketable, and can be easily repurposed as a tool of business development.
Preconstruction and Design
Drone footage can be adapted to survey software in a way that provides more accurate portrayal of a future construction site. A drone with geolocation capabilities can make clearer connections between an impediment or stake position and its relative location both in distance and contour from other proposed boundary points. This is also an effective tool in assessing how easements or legal property ownership will affect the actualization of a project’s design.
For developers and surveyors, this means more accurate bidding and more feasible and realistic expectations for design elements and timelines. In procuring this information proactively, developers are better able to communicate with clients about what can and cannot be done. This can be done before a project reaches a point where amendments or design improvements mean additional costs to developer and client alike.
It is widely believed among the construction industry that drones are only useful as a survey tool, and thus, the cost to benefit ratio seems sleep to many development companies. However, there is evidence of drone utilization beyond preconstruction that seem to suggest a UAV may be worth the investment.
Aerial drone footage can be used to monitor the progress of a construction project. For the developer, this makes it easier than ever to track material and accurately estimate and report operating costs.
Some construction companies are even using drone footage in the surveillance of projects in progress that may be uninhabited for a period of time. The footage can also be archived as another level of time stamped documentation on the progress and operating costs of a project, and can even be shared with clients during construction to transparently report on the state of the project.
All of the aforementioned uses of drones in preconstruction and throughout the life of the project can be applied to a company’s marketing strategy.
Regardless of what a developer’s marketing budget is, no one can contest the fact that word of mouth is still the best form of advertising. The enhanced efficiency of operations and transparent reporting of progress, both as a result of drone use, will undoubtedly bleed into the relationships construction companies have with their clients. Improved customer ratings drive business in a way no ad campaign ever could.
Finally, all of the ways in which drone use can enhance operations are trackable. These numbers serve as undeniable proof that a company is able to deliver on a client’s vision in a way that far outweighs that of any competitor within the market.
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