Drones In Construction Processes
As the number of jobs that drones can do for us expands at a fast pace, it is becoming increasingly clear that these UAVs have the potential to be more than just a toy or an aide for basic photography and delivery systems.
The more that companies test out the capabilities of these unmanned vehicles, the more they learn about their potential.
This is certainly the case in industries such as mining, land management, farming, and construction.
Drones are providing new information and new solutions to problems to increase the effectiveness of a project and even make work sites safer.
In the UK, Crossrail has been working on a project of their own to test the potential of drones in the expansion of the rail network. That project is Innovate18.
What is the aim of Innovate18?
Innovate18 is the innovation program set up by Crossrail to raise standards within the industry through new technological processes.
The primary aim of the company has always been to deliver a world class railway system, but they need to embrace new ideas and work closely with other contractors in order to do so.
This project is their way of facilitating that. The use of drones in construction was an obvious new area of interest given their popularity.
The company began to look into the use of these UAVs in site inspections where access with restricted or there were large areas to cover.
A team of operators was trained to Civil Aviation Authority standards, guidelines were created and then the project could begin. To do so, the team started with two simple DIJ Inspire 1 drones.
What did Crossrail find out through their work with these construction drones?
The findings from the Innovate18 project were numerous, and not all that surprising based on reports from other industries.
The obvious benefits to come out from the study involved the ability to save time, produce better data and reduce the risks to workers.
The drones allowed for site inspections and inductions to be carried out much faster, operators received clear 360 degree views and detailed images and the drones could inspect cranes and problem areas without the need for human intervention.
Other benefits that were highlighted included the impact of logistics planning – with problems and changes being highlighted more effectively – and the ability to use live feeds for real-time decision making.
What is next for Crossrail and their drones
The project has clearly shown that there is a lot of potential in the use of drones in construction, with perhaps more knock-on effects and long-term benefits for the development of the rail network than the company expected.
The team is keen to push forward and see what else can be achieved as they practice their skills and learn more about the technology.
The next step is to look into point cloud scanning, volumetric measurements, thermal imaging, waypoint flying and upward filming for overhead structures.
There is still a lot that Crossrail wants to discover and, as the technology of these drones develops, it is becoming more and more likely that these enthusiastic operators will achieve these aims.