Drones can save tens of thousands of dollars per week
Drones are becoming a key tool on construction sites.
Indeed, the fastest growing commercial adoption of drones is the construction industry.
Drone data can benefit construction companies in several ways. It can be collected safely, quickly and accurately to help companies track their progress on site, simplify communication and decision-making, detect errors, create detailed maps and 3D models, and keep field personnel away from dangerous areas.
Implementing drones for construction can help save money during the life cycle of a project and can be much more efficient than traditional methods, in some cases taking just a few hours to collect data instead of days.
In short, drones have become an essential part of a construction worker’s toolbox.
As Komatsu’s Richard Clement says, “With drones and associated software, data can be collected from a site in half an hour, compared to three days with traditional portable methods. Drones enable companies to create highly accurate maps and point clouds, uncover costly errors on site, and predict schedule delays, saving up to tens of thousands of pounds a week.
Cost Savings DJI M300 RTK and H20 saved oil giant Shell $100,000 in a single deployment.
Gain in efficiency Drones collect solar panel data more than 50 times faster than manual methods.
Reliable data Drone inspections in the energy sector provide a higher level of detail than classical methods.
Reduced risks “Drones increase safety and keep employees at a safe distance from hazardous areas” – Rio Tinto.
Benefits of drones in construction
Drones can be used on construction sites for a variety of activities. These include:
Initial site survey/measurement: assesses large construction sites and provides detailed and accurate data to architects and contractors before they set foot on site. This gives companies the competitive edge right from the bidding process.
Construction mapping/modeling: drone data can be converted into detailed maps and 3D models to help with project tracking and accurate measurement of distances, surfaces, elevations and volumes.
Progress monitoring: access real-time aerial data to understand what is happening on site. This is ideal for monitoring progress and spotting errors before they become too costly.
Inspection: inspect roofs or building facades to gather a large amount of information with zoom or thermal cameras. Drones eliminate the danger of manual data collection and are a much more efficient way to gather this information.
Security/Maintenance: drone images can highlight any problems on site, such as a damaged section of perimeter fence. A drone with a thermal imaging camera can detect problems such as tank overheating that might not be detected with the naked eye.
Access hard-to-reach areas: drones eliminate the need for ground personnel to climb potentially dangerous stockpiles, venture into hard-to-reach areas, or climb scaffolding. This improves workplace safety.
“A drone photo is potentially worth millions of dollars.”
Drones provide a bird’s eye view of a construction site, providing awareness of the entire site through regular, shareable site maps.
Access to bird’s-eye views of a site helps teams keep track of the site’s progress over time; ideal for checking timelines and making sure the project meets its deadline.
A top-down view can also be used to identify any errors or problems. This means that problems can be identified much more quickly than with traditional methods and can be addressed before it is too late, saving time and money. These images can be used in CAD overlays, putting over the original designs to detect any errors and identify if the design deviates from the original proposals.
Aerial data also makes communication within the construction site incredibly easy, keeping staff up-to-date on the current status of activities and allowing stakeholders to stay on top of things. As an added bonus, staff, and stakeholders can access this information remotely, without having to set foot on site.
Drone imagery reduces guesswork or misinterpretation, which can lead to costly mistakes. Having such a great visual representation of a site is invaluable to project management and subcontractors.
Having aerial drone footage is also essential to increase safety, as colleagues do not have to venture into a dangerous construction site to get an overview of project development.
“Regular drone images provide a record for the duration of a scheme. It allows us to monitor and review progress, and we can reference a particular time frame at any point in the project life cycle. We can see at a glance where we are with the project and can demonstrate this to the client, staff and stakeholders. It means the team can be aware of what is going on without having to travel to the site.”
Wayne Hughes, UAV principal pilot, Balfour Beatty
“When you have this documented progress of the site, you are able to go back in time and look at what was happening at any time. The progress is locked digitally and you can go back and forth. You no longer have to rely on interpreting a few notes on a bit of paper-the use of drone data gives you a clear, accurate picture.”
Jono Millin, co-founder and CCO, DroneDeploy
It saves time and money.
Drones can be 8 times more efficient for inspection
Construction projects can go over budget and be behind schedule. But drones help bridge this gap.
Drones are much more efficient than traditional methods, saving time and, ultimately, money.
With drone technology, accurate data can be collected in a single flight, saving many hours over manual methods on the ground. In a single flight, a drone can capture a wealth of information that can be used on a construction site and throughout the life cycle of a project.
After all, why walk around a construction site – time-consuming, labor-intensive and dangerous – collecting several images or multiple data points, when a drone can do it for you in a fraction of the time and without the added risk?
Drones can also increase efficiency when it comes to construction site inspections by capturing high-quality aerial images quickly and safely.
Building inspections often require teams to use manual rope access techniques that require crossing roofs and scaffolding, which is time-consuming, expensive and dangerous.
But drones can be integrated with high-class zoom and thermal cameras that can capture accurate data in a single flight, helping to detect physical, water or electrical damage on roofs and facades. Real-time video transmission from a drone also provides this information on demand, helping to make faster decisions, all while personnel remain safe on the ground.
Falling from height is one of the most common causes of death. Drones can prevent it.
Construction is a dangerous industry
Construction sites can be dangerous places, and risks are everywhere.
Data published by the HSE showed that 40 construction workers died in 2019-20, a fatality rate four times higher than the rate for the industry as a whole.
The three most common causes were workers falling from heights, workers being struck by a moving vehicle or being struck by a moving object.
This is why drones are becoming an increasingly important tool in construction. By deploying drones on a construction site, personnel on the ground are removed from potentially dangerous areas. Benefits of using UAS include:
Personnel no longer have to climb over stockpiles to collect quantities-a drone will do it for you.
Personnel do not need to enter certain areas of a construction site, risking collisions with vehicles and dealing with difficult and dangerous terrain-a drone will do it for you.
Personnel do not need to work at heights, climb scaffolding, use rope access methods or try to access awkward inspection points-a drone will do it for you.
Staff need not be put at risk when trying to detect hazardous materials-a drone can do it for you.
Staff do not need to risk being hit by falling debris: a drone will collect the data you need for you.
Personnel do not need to access all parts of a site to lay ground collection points (GCPs) for detection: a PPK/RTK-capable drone dramatically reduces the number of GCPs needed.
When safety is a top priority, the use of drones should be an essential component of a company’s technology strategy to mitigate risk.
As the Center for Disease Control states, “drones could help reduce construction-related injuries and deaths from falls, exposure to toxic chemicals, electrical hazards, or traumatic injuries from vehicle and equipment collisions.” toxic chemicals, electrical hazards, or traumatic injuries from vehicle and equipment collisions.”
Transform drone mapping data into 3D models and 2D maps.
Build detailed plans for actionable insights
Drones have the distinct advantage of enabling builders to digitize their job site, providing a range of results that can be used for analysis, evaluation, and decision making.
With the highly detailed and comprehensive survey data collected by drones, surveyors and CAD engineers can be sure to collect all the data at once without having to return to the job site to gather additional information, saving time in the process.
In a single flight, a drone can capture a multitude of accurate information, such as crisp, clear visual images and georeferenced data that can be processed by photogrammetry software. This is useful for:
Building digital terrain and surface models: Conducting mass, distance and volume calculations; Building Information Modeling (BIM) and 3D reconstructions. 2D maps and orthomosaics CAD overlays: the process for taking a picture of the site in its current form and foregrounding design plans
This information provides an excellent overview of a site as well as a good basis for project management, regular coordination, and design reviews.
A drone can capture hundreds or thousands of digital photos that can be used to produce high-quality 2D orthomosaic maps.
This provides a real-world view, aiding rapid decision making and analysis of a project’s progress.
These images can also be overlaid on projected plans to act as a
Each pixel contains 2D geographic information (X, Y) and can directly provide accurate measurements, such as distances and horizontal surfaces.
Using drone imagery, construction professionals can build 3D reconstructions of a site or parts of a site.
The 3D models are ideal for on-site inspection and for visualizing what buildings or structures will look like in the real world. Interactive maps even allow observers to see a 360-degree view of these reconstructions.
3D models are invaluable for visual inspection or when input from external stakeholders or public involvement is essential.
3D data also enable the creation of digital surface models (DSMs), digital elevation models (DEMs) or digital terrain models (DTMs).
Drones can be used to create volumetric models, useful for stock measurements, for example.
Balfour Beatty has used drones for stock volume calculations and demonstrated how effective UAS can be for this application.
In Balfour Beatty’s experience, traditional portable methods can take a surveyor a day, but a drone can collect this data in 15 minutes and a model can be processed in two hours, resulting in huge efficiency gains.
In addition to volume surveys, drone data can be used to measure distances, surfaces and elevations.
Thermal imaging surveys
A thermal imaging survey can discover or diagnose problems that have not yet physically manifested themselves.
Thermal imaging cameras can identify problems such as heat loss; water leakage or moisture infiltration; failure of wiring and other electrical components; failure of mechanical components, including overheating; overall performance and leakage in floor heating pipes; and success of energy efficiency improvements.
LiDAR Point Cloud
A LiDAR point cloud can be critical for construction and infrastructure projects, helping to build 3D models and digital twins that are ideal for BIM applications.
These digital models can be used throughout the lifecycle of a scheme, enabling teams to scan for quality assurance, cross-check models and detect errors before they become a problem, conduct inventory volumes and monitor the progress of a development.
Drones can be used for visual surveys. High-quality aerial images are ideal for inspections, defect control, and progress monitoring.
Using a drone to do this is more efficient, cheaper, and safer than traditional methods.
Because a drone is an inexpensive and accurate way to collect visual data, regular visual surveys are possible.
How drone surveys can streamline workflows on construction sites
Drone mapping can play an important role on construction sites, helping collect key data to create maps, models and visualizations that are crucial for communication, progress monitoring and decision making.
Drone sensing solutions can produce varying degrees of accuracy, depending on project requirements.
In an independent study, the DJI Phantom 4 RTK achieved a relative vertical accuracy of 2 cm and a relative horizontal accuracy of 1.20 cm.
An accuracy report also showed that the DJI Phantom 4 RTK can achieve accuracy of 3 cm-4 cm without the need to place control points on the ground.
When it comes to mapping, accuracy is critical. Traditionally, the use of ground control points has been a primary method of achieving survey accuracy from drone mapping.
Ground control points-or GCPs as they are known-are marked points on the ground that have a known geographic location.
For aerial survey and mapping applications, GCPs are generally needed because they can improve the positioning and accuracy of mapping results. Indeed, GCPs enable the survey drone to obtain fairly accurate data.
However, taking this approach has its disadvantages. This method can be laborious, as it requires the precise placement and geolocation of numerous control points and can require a large amount of preparation. In some cases, more time is spent laying GCPs than conducting the drone mapping itself.
There is one way to minimize or eliminate the need for GCPs, and that is by using RTK and PPK corrective technologies. And drones such as DJI Phantom 4 RTK and M30T benefit from this technology to simplify drone survey missions.
Adopting this approach can eliminate, or certainly reduce, the number of GCPs needed. It has been estimated that RTK or PPK-enabled drone technology can save 75 percent of the time and money spent on drone mapping setup and can produce accurate data at the center of the meter.
PPK V RTK – Which is best for drone mapping missions.
Drone pilots can leverage PPK (post-processed kinematics) and RTK (real-time kinematics) during survey and mapping projects. But what is the difference?
RTK is a GPS correction technique that provides real-time corrections to location data when the survey drone is capturing photos of a site. Real-time correction is an important advantage in the industry. PPK is another GPS correction technology technique that works to correct location data except in the cloud after the drone data has been captured and uploaded. In other words, this means that in terms of position correction, RTK does it during the flight, while PPK makes the changes later.
RTK has many advantages, such as pinpoint accuracy of the drone during flight and accurate geotagging of information acquired by the drone.
However, RTK requires a very specific base station and other equipment working together to process data in real time, and signals can be obstructed resulting in loss of correction data. This is not a problem with PPK.
PPK also removes the requirement for GCP saving additional time in the field.
Here is a breakdown of the advantages of using a drone with RTK versus relying only on ground control points or flying a UAV without RTK.
Perhaps the best combination is to deploy a drone with RTK and a small number of strategically placed ground control points.
Having flown the DJI Phantom 4 RTK, Terra Drone Europe believes that in some cases the accuracy that can be achieved without GCP is less than 3-4 cm, but when greater accuracy is needed, it is advisable to use a number of ground control points-but it is still a reduction compared to traditional surveying methods.
Drone Without RTK
Drone With RTK
RTK Drone + GCPs
Medium to High
BEST SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS
A guide to drone mapping software and drone fleet management platforms.
Sophisticated packages for mission efficiency and flight automation
Drone mapping and fleet management software are essential components of any successful UAV survey program, and Dronedubai has partnered with some of the industry’s leading vendors to provide surveyors with the tools to maximize their data and missions.
Each solution has its own range of features that can benefit the end user, and Dronedubai’s business experts can walk you through the ideal software package and help you unlock your desired platform license.
DJI FlightHub: Manage your entire drone operation using DJI FlightHub, including the Enterprise edition. If you are operating multiple drones and pilots while juggling multiple operations, DJI FlightHub will give you a complete, live picture of your entire drone program. Highlights include real-time communication with pilots during live operations; easy logging and flight log management; managing equipment, pilots, and individual flights across the organization; and easy-to-use mission planning tools to increase efficiency.
DJI GS Pro: Enhance your drone operations with DJI Ground Station Pro (DJI GS Pro), an iPad app. GS Pro allows you to conduct automated flight missions, manage flight data on the cloud, and collaborate across projects to efficiently execute your drone program. GS Pro allows you to back up flight data to the cloud; coordinate teams and designate roles for mission simplicity and clarity; and generate efficient flight paths and upload collected data into reconstruction software to generate 3D maps
Take advantage of the power and versatility of DJI drones.
As the world’s leading drone manufacturer, DJI has a number of professional drones ideal for the construction industry.
The Phantom 4 RTK, for example, is a next-generation aerial mapping tool that can capture survey data and reduce the number of ground control points needed, helping to simplify missions.
Other popular enterprise tools include the Matrice range of drones, including the M300 RTK. All drones in the Matrice family are rugged and robust commercial platforms that can be integrated with thermal, zoom and visual cameras, as well as third-party sensors, such as LiDAR, oblique or HazMat payload, to increase mission versatility and efficiency. Matrix drones such as the M300 are RTK-enabled.
To stay in the DJI ecosystem for sensing, the M300 RTK can be integrated with the DJI Zenmuse L1 sensor for LiDAR collection, while the 45 MP DJI Zenmuse P1 sensor is a high-end photogrammetric camera.
For a lower level of building drones, the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced series are lightweight and quickly deployable and are perfect for lower budgets.
DJI drones, like those listed above, have flight safety features and improved obstacle avoidance functions to enhance safety when deploying in and around a construction site.
Up to 55 minutes of flight time;
Carries up to three payloads simultaneously;
IP45 degree of protection;
mpy inspection payload compatibility, such as H20T (including thermal, zoom, wide-angle), L1 LiDAR sensor, P1 photogrammetry camera, and third-party payloads;
Connects CSM module to help detect small obstacles.
The DJI Mavic 3 Thermal is a new generation of multi-sensor, lightweight and compact commercial drone.
Especially suited for the emergency services and inspection missions, the quickly-deployable Mavic 3T has powerful imaging capabilities and enhanced 45 minutes flight time.
This versatile drone supports visual data collection, including hybrid zooming, and high-resolution thermal.
Integrate with a range of accessories to boost operations, including RTK Module for improved georeferencing accuracy, and high volume loud-speaker – especially suited to public safety and search and rescue missions.
Benefit from enhanced safety features, the new DJI RC Pro Enterprise smart controller with high-bright screen, and upgraded drone data security.
The Mavic 3 Enterprise Series redefines industry standards for small commercial drones. With a mechanical shutter, a 56× zoom camera, and an RTK module for centimeter-level precision, the Mavic 3E brings mapping and mission efficiency to new heights. A thermal version is available for firefighting, search and rescue, inspection, and night operations.
Balfour Beatty deployed drones, including the DJI Phantom 4 RTK, during a 212-million upgrade of the Smart Highway on the M6.
The international infrastructure group used the UAS for faster stock measurements, informative aerial progress reports, and access to hard-to-reach areas.
The use of drones has helped the company improve safety, increase efficiency, collect data faster, improve resource productivity, and achieve high-precision results.
Drones have proven their value when it comes to measuring inventory volumes; they not only help with efficiency, but also improve safety.
Drones = 75 percent cost savings for Chasco Constructors
Texas-based Chasco Constructors used drones to help manage the construction of a major project at the Public Safety Training Center, in Round Rock, Texas. This included a 65,000-square-foot main structure and 10 additional support buildings.
Using drone technology, the company was able to streamline the workflow, complete the project ahead of schedule, and achieve cost savings of 75 percent. Chasco Constructors used drones to:
Monitor work progress, including monitoring subcontractors, tracking materials and equipment, and measuring inventory volumes;
Acquire and analyze much more detailed site details than a ground survey team could gather;
Allow surveyors to focus more on what they do best, such as high-precision layouts, bluetops, and utility cut sheets;
Collect regular aerial images to create high-resolution maps and 3-D site models. Not only was this useful for monitoring the progress of the site, but this data enabled the Round Rock City Council to provide more transparency to taxpayers about money well spent;
Enabled managers to keep an eye on both their work teams and subcontractors;
Identified a potential problem related to roadway excavation. This eliminated the mobilization costs that would otherwise have been required to complete additional work on site.
The drones proved so useful to Chasco that the company is now using them to monitor more than 35 construction sites across Texas.
“Drones are very efficient tools for construction.”
STRABAG is using the DJI Phantom 4 RTK in a construction project to widen Germany’s A3 highway near the city of Würzburg.
The team has deployed drones to efficiently survey the site, enabling them to plan and monitor progress accurately.
Improvements are being implemented on multiple kilometers of highway, over complex terrain with steep inclines and numerous curves. The use of drones helps to reach these areas, quickly and safely.
Thomas Gröninger, of STRABAG, says, “Drones are proving to be very efficient tools in the construction industry and I am convinced that they will be increasingly integrated into construction processes on the international scene.”
The company has benefited from the DJI Phantom 4 RTK for numerous reasons. These include:
Reduction in ground control points: previously, the team had the time-consuming task of setting up to 40 GCPs per square kilometer. With the Phantom 4 RTK, this is reduced to just 3-5 (or even zero in the same cases) per square kilometer, saving at least 75% in GCP setup time.
More efficient: with a flight time of up to 30 minutes, the survey team used Phantom 4 RTK to acquire a large amount of data in a single flight. The drone can also fly at a constant height over complex terrain for repeatable results.
Multiple insights: with the data collected by the drone, the team was able to conduct volume calculations, build terrain models, and monitor project progress. This means they can receive the models and information they need based on their project needs.
Complete end-to-end support to grow your drone inspection business.
Your drone partner
A successful commercial drone program is based on a multifaceted approach. It’s not just hardware; it’s developing a complete end-to-end workflow, with all components working effectively, together.
For that, you need a pillar of support to help you build a solid foundation, cover all the bases, and connect the dots.
This is where Dronedubai can help you. At the forefront of the industry since 2008, we have more than 20 staff members who can help every aspect of your business, from startup to scalability.
Our structure includes consulting; hardware supply and support; global logistics; pilot and industry-specific training; and in-house repair, incident resolution, and research and development to provide a comprehensive, integrated support network.
This approach has enabled us to enhance the drone programs of numerous companies.
Drones for sale
Extensive stock inventory for instant supply, downsizing and immediate replacements;
Global network of industry partners;
Service level agreements;
Financial options available;
3,000+ candidates trained;
DJI approved courses;
Online training and remote theory exams;
Closed courses and industry-specific training;
UTC DJI Academy courses;
DJI-approved in-house repair center offering incident support and repair management;
Instant replacement of defective products, including telephone fault diagnosis with one of four technicians and free returns/replacements of defective items;
Warranty repairs/replacements at no additional cost, including access to the repair infrastructure in Italy from our Repair Center;
Firmware upgrade and configuration support;
Data analysis, premium customer support and resolution with the manufacturer;
Research and development lab for custom builds and sensor integration.