Aerial Drones can Help Accelerate the Digitalization of the Construction Industry

There is no doubt that the global construction industry is undergoing digitalization just like every other industry.  This means that construction companies are looking to take construction management onto the cloud, and this is where the problem starts.

   The myriad of processes like design management, scheduling, quality control, contract management, materials management, field productivity, document management, and performance dashboards pose considerable challenges for construction companies when it comes to digitization. One way of addressing these challenges is not to focus on the processes but tools that can facilitate the digital journey for the real estate industry such as aerial drones.

   The global drone market was valued at $5.93 billion in 2015, and this will reach $22.15 billion by 2022. While military applications of drones remain strong, the enormous prospects in the usage of drone technology in the public and commercial sector is what holds immense promise for the future. The share of the real estate industry in this market is still in its infancy and early adopters will reap immense benefits.

   Subsequently, there is no better starting point than to deploy aerial drones on construction sites and force the company to change its processes, so that the digital data transmitted by the drone is readable, interpretable and actionable Hence, it is important for the construction staff to become well acquainted with the numerous features of drones, before the technology is deployed.

   What makes aerial drones appealing is that they can be fitted with high-specification robust camera technology along with several other sensors, such as thermal imaging scanners, humidity and temperature detectors, facial recognition software that recognizes employees and contractors from unauthorized personnel, the ability to carry payload (like first aid kits and radios)and raise alarms for humans to take action. But, perhaps the biggest dividend drones bring to the project design table is real-time data.

   Architects and Engineers can use real-time data to carry out aerial surveys of the developed construction site prior to any digging, and build dynamic 3D (BIM) models to enable them to make tough choices without visiting the site. Drones can also provide time-elapsed videos of the construction work allowing engineers to playback, pause, and rewind to any given point in time to view structural changes or understand the behaviour of safety features.

  Project managers can monitor the performance of their on-site teams, track milestones and receive project updates without the need for onsite inspections. In fact, drones have become so versatile that they can facilitate video-conferencing between various onsite teams with offsite project teams based offsite or in their corporate headquarters. When drones are not interacting with the construction team, they can be given  security roles like guarding against intruders, theft or vandalism. Additionally, post-build the same drones can be employed to aid facility management thereby providing a real return on investment.

   Obviously, for construction companies to benefit from some of the aforementioned benefits, they would have to invest in cloud computing, big data and a host of other online applications. This has already started with the advent of offsite information management systems like BIW, ACONEX, MEZZOTEAM, etc.

However, the beauty of the drone driven approach to change the company lies in its ability to make employees visualize the change before it happens. This reduces organizational inertia and encourages adoption of digital technologies.

   The construction industry does not need to fear drones. On the contrary, embracing aerial drone technology can bring the industry into the digital age quicker than other industries.

About the author
Abid Mustafa is a special guest writer for PropertyTR. He is a digital transformation expert and his specialism includes building digital life styles, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. He can be contacted through PropertyTR for advisory and consulting services.

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