How Construction Companies Can Use Drones

Drones are changing the construction industry in more ways than one. These eyes in the sky can improve efficiency, accuracy, safety and transparency.

Drones have become an important part of the construction industry. They provide valuable data for site analysis, project progress, inspections, worker safety and marketing. Here are some ways construction companies can use drones to improve productivity, safety and profit.

Create Maps and Monitor Jobsites

A drone map, made up of many individual pictures, provides a detailed view of a jobsite.

According to Ryan Hittie, innovation and operational technology specialist for the general contractor Brasfield & Gorrie, drone software like DroneDeploy can create an automatic flight plan so the drone captures the jobsite area efficiently. Once the flight is done, the software automatically processes the data, stitches the images together and creates a map, which is uploaded to the cloud for all stakeholders to access.

There are also a growing number of sensors that can be attached to drones to generate more than photos and footage.

“Thermal sensors and infrared cameras can build more complex images of a site, while air quality sensors can be used to confirm that your site complies with local regulations,” says Ibrahim Imam, co-founder of the construction technology firm PlanRadar. “These sensors, along with footage from the air, can flag issues that you might not be able to see at ground level.”

Track Job Progress

Drones are by far the easiest way to keep track of a construction project’s progress. Sunny Wroten, the head of homebuilding at Atmos, says her company flies a drone around every new lot it acquires and every home being built. They use the drone data to keep home buyers up-to-date on their builds and create a time-lapse video at the end of the project.

“It’s a great way to keep customers in the loop and improve the customer experience,” Wroten says. “People love to see projects coming together from a bird’s eye view rather than just at ground level.”

Monitor Inspections

Drone footage can also improve efficiency on a jobsite and point out potential hazards, Imam says. Construction companies can use drones to help with general site inspections, especially if there is a large area to cover. This significantly reduces the workload on employees and makes it easier for more people to monitor and identify potential defects at the site.

Drone maps can also be used for visual and quality control inspections. Employees can look at how the build is going and whether it aligns with the architectural design and the specifications. Construction defects can obliterate profit if a project has razor-sharp margins. In the end, drones can often pay for themselves by reducing the chance for mistakes and mishaps.

Reduce Worker Safety Risks

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that falls are one of the leading causes of death in the construction industry. One of the best ways to reduce deaths and injuries is to make sure workers are not unnecessarily put in harm’s way. For example, instead of sending workers into high-risk areas, a builder can dispatch a drone to carry out site safety checks.

Hittie says that when details on the vertical facade of a high rise must be checked, a drone can do it, instead of lifting a worker to examine the area. Potential danger is eliminated.

Produce Time-Lapse Video

When the project is complete, the drone can capture one last aerial video to show to all the stakeholders. These final shots will be added to all of the previous time-lapse footage to create a start-to-finish video perfect for marketing. These pictures are worth a thousand words.

Mark Soto
Mark Soto works for a family-owned company, RoofingMKE, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He has comprehensive knowledge of roof installation, repair and replacement and gutter installation. Mark comes from a family of DIYers and has worked with landscapers, plumbers, painters, and damage restoration specialists.