Editorial Feature

Drones in Construction Site Surveying and Monitoring

Drone use has seen a rapid expansion in recent years, with the technology proving highly disruptive across multiple industrial sectors. As the construction industry seeks to improve efficiency, productivity, and safety whilst meeting its net zero goals, recent interest in drones in the industry has seen considerable growth.

Drones in Construction

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Drones can carry out a number of critical tasks in the construction industry, from site surveying to monitoring, data collection, and even environmental remediation. This article will explore their use in site surveying and monitoring.

The Rise of Drones in the Construction Industry

Drones have rapidly become one of the hot-button trends in the construction industry as it seeks to embrace new, innovative technologies and tackle the challenges it faces in the 21st Century.

Estimates have put the growth of drone use in the industry at around 239% year on year, which represents a larger growth than other commercial sectors. Entire project cycles, from inception to project closeout, can be revolutionized using drones, completely reinventing how construction managers manage assets, workers, and costs.

Drones have several advantages for the construction industry due to their aerial vantage point and ability to survey sites and assets in a fraction of the time and expense needed with conventional, human worker-led approaches. Real-time updates using thousands of aerial images and reams of actionable data significantly improve the efficiency and productivity of construction projects.

Alongside drones, the use of ever-more intuitive and innovative AI technologies such as machine learning, algorithms, neural networks, data analytics, and AI-enabled sensors have proven highly disruptive. The incorporation of these advanced technologies into drones gives project managers and construction workers unparalleled insights into day-to-day operations.

As the industry becomes more data-driven and leverages Industry 4.0 technologies, the use of drones is predicted to grow exponentially. The role of drones in this industry evolution cannot be understated.

Using Drones to Survey and Monitor Construction Sites

Construction sites are dynamic environments, with hundreds of assets and workers all needing to be surveyed and monitored constantly to ensure site safety, improve productivity and efficiency, and determine the optimal use of time and resources.

Drones can also be utilized before the first soil is broken on a new construction site. Using onboard cameras and sensors, site planners can quickly and easily collect images and data on the land below them, which can then be compiled into accurate models and maps of the area’s topography and geography.

Drones offer several advantages for site surveying and monitoring and aid nearly every specific task on site. One of the main advantages is increased safety: workers are isolated from potentially hazardous and hard-to-reach areas such as elevated positions, lowering physical risk and the threat of fatal incidents. Improving site safety lowers associated costs such as insurance and productivity loss.

Jobsite progress can be monitored and documented, allowing site managers to make real-time decisions that affect the successful completion of a project. Furthermore, drones can be utilized to measure material stockpiles and excavation depths. They also enable better, more timely onsite and off-site communication.

Security and Maintenance

Construction sites are often prone to criminality due to the presence of high-value assets and materials. Whilst security guards can address some of these issues and dissuade theft, they cannot stop every issue from occurring.

Drones can enhance the security of sites by providing more rapid monitoring capabilities over a wide area. They can quickly attend security breaches, ascertaining the situation. Situations like damaged security fences after bad weather can be quickly addressed and remediated by installing temporary fencing.

Thermal imaging cameras installed in drones can identify fire risks and security issues from a safe distance out of hours. Moreover, audit trails can be improved by drones’ ability to capture huge amounts of data in a timely manner, enhancing security and maintenance.

Current and Future Trends

Like any emerging technology, drones are constantly evolving in terms of their capabilities and applications. Several current and future trends are impacting the sector.

Firstly, the growing use of digital data is changing the face of construction, making it a more data-driven industry than previously. This trend has the potential to revolutionize working practices as well as business models and reporting methods. A comprehensive digital refurbishment of the construction sector is already underway.

Another key trend is the increasing integration of systems and technologies. Integrating different data sets allows planners, site managers, and clients to visualize entire sites and monitor sites and assets with unprecedented accuracy, flexibility, and provides a comprehensive overview of an entire project from inception to closeout.

Swarm capabilities, AI integration, longer battery life, the ability to carry bigger payloads, and improved sensor technologies mean that today’s construction drones are vastly improved. Furthermore, drones now have greater autonomous capabilities than previous generations, augmenting their abilities and making them an even more powerful technology in the industry.

Aside from technology, another key trend affecting the drone and construction sectors is regulation. For example, the Drone (Regulation) Bill 2017-2019 in the UK requires commercial drone operators to be licensed. Restrictions on use, such as height restrictions and restrictions around urban areas, could have an impact on drone use for surveying and monitoring purposes.

In Summary

Drones are an emerging technology in the construction industry, providing significant benefits for productivity, safety, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. They are increasingly becoming a go-to tool for site surveying and monitoring purposes, being used in hazardous areas, enhancing security and asset management, and feeding back reams of actionable, real-time data to site managers.

Whilst some challenges, especially regulatory, impact the use of drones for project-critical applications such as these, their growing use is a testament to the investment companies are making in innovative technologies in the construction sector. Drones will likely see accelerated use in the coming years, becoming an indispensable tool in construction.

More from AZoBuild: New Technology Leveraged to Paint Buildings

References and Further Reading 

Stannard, L (2022) 6 Ways Drones in Construction Are Changing the Industry [online] bigrentz.com. Available at:

https://www.bigrentz.com/blog/drones-construction

Safesite Facilities (website) Use of Drones in the Construction Industry [online] safesitefacilities.co.uk. Available at:

https://www.safesitefacilities.co.uk/knowledge-base/use-of-drones-in-construction-industry

Techbric (website) Drone Technology in Construction: Enhancing Efficiency and Precision [online] techbric.com. Available at:

https://techbric.com/drone-technology

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Reginald Davey

Written by

Reginald Davey

Reg Davey is a freelance copywriter and editor based in Nottingham in the United Kingdom. Writing for AZoNetwork represents the coming together of various interests and fields he has been interested and involved in over the years, including Microbiology, Biomedical Sciences, and Environmental Science.

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