Drones in Construction Improve Efficiency

Drones in construction

DRONES IN CONSTRUCTION:

NOT JUST THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY, BUT A BUSINESS TOOL

Business benefits of drones in construction

According to a study by McKinsey, construction is the world’s second largest industry (after agriculture), worth approximately $8 trillion a year. It’s surprising, then, that as an industry, construction continues to struggle with a great deal of inefficiency. The typical commercial construction project runs 80 percent over budget and 20 months behind schedule, according to the study.

It’s the classic scenario of what a job looks like on the computer versus what it actually looks like on the ground. On-site, in the pit or the trenches or the building, reality is different. And the separation between concept and reality is where about $3 trillion of that $8 trillion falls into a black hole along with a waterfall of change orders, rework and wasted material.

Drones in construction (also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAVs) are transforming from a technology of interest to a viable business tool that can close that gap. High-resolution imagery of jobsites obtained by drones can be uploaded online to extract actionable information. Here’s a real-world example of what one quarry has gained from drone data collection processed and analyzed in the Airware platform. Airware is Caterpillar’s business partner, providing an aerial insights drone solution to Cat dealers in more than 12 countries.

TAKE EFFICIENCY TO NEW HEIGHTS WITH DRONES IN CONSTRUCTION

KEY ADVANTAGES OF UAV AND CLOUD TECHNOLOGIES OVER TRADITIONAL GROUND-LEVEL SURVEYS:

PROCESS & ANALYSIS TIME - Saved more than a week

REDUCED RISK - lower costs, safer than people on site

MORE ACCURATE - precise digital data, no guessing

EASY TO USE - cloud-based with access anywhere, anytime

SHAREABLE & SECURE - seamless secure cloud-based collaboration


ONE QUARRY’S EXPERIENCE

We tested a fixed wing UAV in a U.S. quarry that produces between 800,000 and 1 million tons of aggregate per year. Our pilot flew three 25-minute missions over the 350-acre site, capturing thousands of images that were converted into a 3D model and other 2D models within 24 hours. Had the owner gathered the information manually, the process could have taken an extra week or more. Costs and safety risks would have been higher and the data would have been less accurate. The company is using the data in a variety of ways.

  • They’re calculating stockpile volume and assigning them material types—quickly, safely and accurately—to ensure they’re paying the right amount of taxes thanks to up-to-date inventories.
  • They’ve identified the next area of the site to be mined and are now planning where to put the haul road thanks to advanced analytics; its length, width and elevation; and how much material will be required to build it.
  • They can annotate directly on the maps to interact easily with all the stakeholders that have access to the platform, and switch from one acquisition to another with the click of a button.
  • They’ve calculated how much overburden will need to be removed at the next site in just a few clicks and can now determine when to start stripping, what size fleet they’ll need and whether they should do the work themselves or hire a third party.
  • They’re monitoring site activity near a creek on the property, giving them easy access to information they need to meet environmental regulations.
  • They have a new aerial image of the site as well as a 3D model for the office and interesting graphics for marketing communications or to communicate with local authorities.

Look for drones in construction and aggregates to take off over the next few months and years. As this technology evolves, you’ll be able to combine machine data from your telematics systems with geo-spatial data from UAVs—giving you the power to take site efficiency to all-new levels.


DRONES WEBINAR

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Experts in Caterpillar’s Drones Webinar, Are You Going Aerial? talk about lessons learned across multiple sites.

Go Aerial

Geospatial Mapping

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Map your jobsites using an aerial drone that takes high-resolution photos of the site and topography.

See How