Drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are no longer just a tool for military reconnaissance. In fact, these flying machines have become one of the most popular tools that building managers are using to transform the way they view and conduct inspections of their facilities, assets and grounds. Drones come in a variety of sizes, capabilities and price tags and have become more readily available for commercial use than ever before.
But how, exactly, can building managers and construction professionals use drones to their advantage? This week, we interviewed drone experts from across the United States to discover some of the coolest reasons to use drones in building management tasks. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Drone Technology is the Ultimate Tool for Efficiency and Accuracy of Everyday Operations
Although drone adoption is still in its infancy when it comes to building management, these flying robots have already proven useful in many building and construction processes. To get a better understanding, AkitaBox interviewed Boris Shiklo to learn how drones can boost efficiency and accuracy of everyday operations.
Meet the Expert:
Boris Shiklo serves as the Chief Technology Officer at ScienceSoft, an international software development and IT services company based in Texas. ScienceSoft aims to transform businesses of most major sectors with powerful, adaptable digital solutions that satisfy the needs of today and unlock the opportunities of tomorrow. Visit their website to read more about the industries they cater to, as well as the services they offer.
AB: “What are the greatest benefits of using drones in building management?
Shiklo: “First and foremost, drones significantly improve the efficiency of construction projects. Manual surveying, inspection, mapping and modeling is extremely time-consuming and costly. But with drones, these tasks can be done within a day; not to mention, they can be completed much faster.
Second, drones remove people from risky activities, such as operating at tall heights, or near sources of power or heat.
Third, drones allow construction managers to gather and maintain comprehensive information about locations and objects. Mistakes and errors can be identified earlier when their fixing costs are much lower.
And lastly, drones help to control and report work progress, as well as improve inspections. For example, drones have been found to have extensive use for image-based solar panel inspection.”
AB: “What do you feel is the greatest barrier to drone usage today?”
Shiklo: “Drone providers are struggling to achieve fully autonomous drone operations; that is, drones being able to plan and adjust routes, fly, take pictures, rest and recharge without any human intervention. When this becomes possible, even more work will be handed over to robots, and construction costs will continue to decline.”
2. Drones Make Building Inspections Safer, Easier and More Cost-Effective
Chances are, your buildings and grounds require routine surveys and/or inspections in order to meet industry standards, regulations and expectations. John Bekisz shines a light on how drones can be used to expedite and improve the inspection process in your facility.
Meet the Expert:
John Bekisz is the owner and operator of UAS Vues, LLC., a professional engineering and consulting firm that specializes in helping businesses determine if drones are the right solution for their processes. The company designs and builds custom drones to meet any application, whether it's in commercial real estate, facility management, construction, agriculture, photography, architecture or security. Visit their website to learn more.
AkitaBox: “How can drones impact the building inspection process?”
Bekisz: “Drones are impactful in that they provide a unique and regular vantage point for building managers to inspect their facilities. For construction management, project managers can take regularly scheduled, automated inspections of their facilities and project sites. Construction teams can use drones to create 3D models and inspect equipment locations as well as material volumes, such as gravel. These surveys can be done automatically or on a regular schedule with staff pilots. Not to mention, drones have much potential to reduce inspection and surveying costs, maintenance costs and overall facility safety and security.”
AB: “How will drones impact building management in coming years?”
Bekisz: “Drones are going to continue to evolve, particularly with automation and artificial intelligence. Likely, drones will become part of building management systems and integrate with facility service inspections, safety and security, as well as traffic management. The possibilities are endless.”
3. Drones give the upper hand to inspectors, surveyors, appraisers, real estate personnel and other building management professionals
Are you ever so busy that you wish you could clone yourself to be in more than one place at any given time? While this type of cloning is not yet a reality, Ron Humes says there are ways to achieve virtual oversight that can be as good, if not better, than a bunch of clones. Keep reading to find out why.
Meet the Expert:
Ron Humes serves as the VP of Operations (Southeast Region) for Post Modern Marketing, a full-service digital marketing company. For 20 years, Humes has worked as a realtor, owner and principal broker of his own realty company. Humes also has experience in the building industry, having owned a remodeling company. He is a licensed drone pilot. Click here to learn more about Post Modern Marketing’s services.
AB: “Can you walk us through how a project manager would use a drone from start to finish?”
Humes: “Drones are currently being used to capture high-resolution videos of progress at each construction site. Drone pilots record each site at the desired frequency and place the raw footage in cloud folders for the project managers. The project managers then review and store the site data as needed. This recorded data allows anyone working on the project the ability to go back and review details that may have been overlooked. The videos and snapshots obtained can even be used as evidence of certain work that may otherwise be impossible to remember or document. Drones and live, onsite cameras provide worksite data previously unavailable.”
AB: “In addition to construction professionals, who else can benefit from using drones?
Humes: “Home and building inspectors have seen the advantages of using these high-resolution, agile devices in their daily activities. Historically, an inspection of a roof required the use of multiple ladders and potentially dangerous climbing to observe the integrity and defects present. Today, the inspector can leave the ladders on the truck and capture all the video and photographs needed to identify and document roof and chimney issues from a safe position on the ground. Surveyors, appraisers and real estate professionals have also seen the advantages of using drones for their assessments, surveys and marketing needs. There are a variety of commercial drones that have been specialized for these individual uses.”
AB: “How do you envision the future of drone technology?”
Humes: “Today’s commercial drones can be used to generate incredibly accurate site survey data, 3D imaging, and thermal imaging. In the future, drone equipment will bring about higher weight capacities, longer range flights, better obstruction avoidance, and more advanced pilot options.”
4. Drones are multi-use tools that can increase the precision of data collection
Drone-based building inspections and data collection are becoming a common occurrence as facility managers look to new technologies to improve their data accuracy, reduce costs and alleviate elements of risk. Tim Brown comments on how drones can improve data collection, specifically in the roofing industry.
Meet the Expert:
Tim Brown is the owner of Roofing SEO, a company that uses digital marketing strategies to boost website traffic and search engine rankings for small and medium-sized roofing companies and similar businesses. They specialize in website optimization to help roofing companies market their brand, generate qualified leads and rank for roofing-related queries. Click here to learn more about Roofing SEO’s offerings.
AB: “What are the best applications for drones in the construction industry?”
Brown: “Drone technology has penetrated far more industries than any expert could have predicted. Drones are versatile, and can be used for a wide array of tasks. For the construction industry, drones have made aerial imaging widely accessible, greatly improving operational efficiency. Projects can be accomplished at an accelerated rate, and completed in a more precise manner as a result.”
AB: “Your company mainly caters to roofing companies. How has drone technology impacted the success of your own company, as well as the success of your clients?”
Brown: “For our clients, drone technology has created an easier and safer way for them to inspect roofs. For us, it's opened the doors to creating some great video marketing content on their behalf. A few years ago the technology was so expensive you could only afford it if you were a major company with an extensive budget. Fortunately, the prices have dropped, allowing us to take advantage of the unique benefits drone technology presents for our niche of search engine optimization for roofing companies. We truly believe our use of drone technology to be a major competitive advantage for us, and something we will continue to use down the road."
Explore the Future of Facilities Technology
Drones are just one of the many cutting-edge facility management and construction technologies that are currently available on the market. Stay up-to-date on several other facility management technology trends of the year in the Total Geek’s Guide to Building Technology Trends, an online guide that gives readers an inside look at how today’s gadgets and systems can positively impact your facilities team.
You may also be interested in reading Technology Trends in Facility Management, a 2019 report that includes insight and data on how facility management teams are already using new technologies such as drones, 360° cameras, and IoT sensors in their facilities and grounds.