Tech Talk: What impact are drones having on Construction?

by Ashley Bice, P.E.  |  Civil Technical Specialist   This past week I attended Kan-Struct 2017, the Associated General Contractors of Kansas annual conference, where I gathered some great insight into current construction processes. Since ATG is beginning to transition into the Construction market, Kan-Struct provided us the opportunity to grab some first-hand knowledge of work processes and the struggles currently being experienced in the field. Not surprisingly, Drones were one of the key topics discussed at Kan-Struct 2017. Drones are quickly emerging as go-to resources for Construction sites. It won’t be long before they become mainstream technology used on every job site. So what are Construction companies currently using drones for? Site Scanning and Surveying Existing environments are changing daily and drones offer a solution by scanning sites quickly. The software employed by Drones used by ATG allows a pre-defined flight path to be established where it then autonomously gathers site data that can be used to build a 3D model of project. Accurate existing ground data would be invaluable information for pre-planning of sites or construction phases. Construction Progression with Aerial Imagery Not only can Drones be used for pre-planning, they can also be used to track and map construction progression. Many companies are using weekly, and even daily, aerial imagery and video from Drones to check on the current progress of their sites. Material Calculations As long as a baseline ground profile flight is performed first, Drones make it very easy to compile volumes of current on-site materials. By doing a quick flight over your material piles, loading that data into software and subtracting the previous day’s flight surface, you can develop highly accurate volumes that cut down on waste while allowing you to constantly monitor supplies. Using a Drone also cuts the time to perform this task down from days to minutes. Structural Inspection Structural Inspection is a dangerous job. Inspecting the underside of a new construction bridge over water or renting a crane or man-lift to inspect tall structures can be very hazardous to complete. Both tasks can be completed easily by a drone without putting a worker’s safety at risk. This method is also much more cost effective when you consider the time needed to complete the tasks plus the added cost of equipment rental or safety procedures that are needed when you are responsible for a worker’s safety. As Drone technology advances and users develop new and potentially better ways to use them, I think we’ll see a significant increase in Drone count, especially on construction sites where worker safety is top priority.     Ashley Bice, PE, is a Civil Technical Specialist with ATG USA, Inc., in North Little Rock, Ark. He brings more than six years of Registered Professional Engineer experience to the technical services team at ATG. Before coming to ATG, Ashley worked as a Civil/Structural Engineer in the construction group of BHP Billiton’s Fayetteville Production Unit. He worked for six years as a Civil Engineer in the water infrastructure department for Jacobs, Inc., in Little Rock. His work portfolio includes experience in civil design and subdivision design. Ashley graduated from the University of Arkansas with bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering.  

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