It used to be that if you wanted a bird’s eye view of a jobsite, you needed to rent a helicopter, which meant shelling out a significant amount of money for time, fuel and a pilot. No more. Thanks to the advent of drones, for just a few thousand dollars, you can buy a way to get a high-level view of any construction site.
Even the smallest construction job has tons of details. And the bigger the project, the more planning involved. This inevitably leads to missed details as stakeholders try to grasp the minutia and the big picture at the same time. That’s where drones can be a big help.
You can use them to track materials, locate missing items, and with the right software, even as a sophisticated measuring tool. Project managers are often shocked by the short learning curve involved with using drones.
Surveying — Drones produce complex, accurate data in a very short amount of time. By connecting with on-site tablets and computers, they can quickly generate accurate maps. Additionally, their small size makes it easy for them to squeeze into tight or dangerous locations that might be inaccessible to a human crew. 3D laser scanners can be used to provide topographical information, and all this information can be paired using a mix of statistical analysis and cartography.
Tracking progress — Stakeholders like to be reassured that their projects are on track. But it’s not always convenient (or safe, for that matter) to have them coming by the jobsite. And pictures from your camera phone might not do the job justice. Drones do a great job of showing engineers, owners and architects just how structures are shaping up — all from the comfort of their office.
Inspection — Worried that something on a job doesn’t look quite right? Drones are the perfect answer. Whether it’s new construction or rehabbing an older building, you can zoom right up to the area in question and get a look as if you were right in front of it.
Keeping on track — A bird’s eye view of your jobsite is invaluable for identifying waste and improving job safety. By giving you a real-time look at what’s going on, you can make smarter decisions about where projects are going and better maintain control.
Regardless of how you're using drones on your jobsite, make sure your construction company complies with the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) drone regulations. Since drones are new technology in construction, these regulations might still change, so be sure you're following the most current rules. Here are a few of the most important:
Licensing — Though you don't need one for flying a drone for fun, anyone flying a drone for work must be a licensed Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) pilot. Pilots must be at least 16 years old and pass a knowledge exam.
Size limitations — Drones used on the site must be registered if they weigh between .55 and 55 pounds, which is also their maximum weight.
Rules for operation — Drones flown for work must be flown during the day, can't fly higher than 400 feet and can go no faster than 100 mph. The drone has to stay in the operator's line of sight and can't be flown over people or from a moving vehicle. Operators can request to have these stipulations waived under certain circumstances.
You can read current federal drone regulations in full here and then get started putting drones to work on your jobsite.
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