Benefits of Using Drones in Construction Projects

1. Large Range Of Options Available At Various Price Points

There are many drones in construction, from basic models that cost only a few thousand dollars to more advanced models that can cost $10,000 and up.  There are many options in the market, whether you need a drone that can carry different payloads or a simple camera drone for updating clients about the project’s progress. And not just from DJI, though we love their capable drones.

Other companies also offer custom drones. Some come with software for things like mapping, data analysis, and other applications.

You can get a drone that suits your needs. A construction drone is going to cost you more than an ordinary hobby drone. A basic camera drone costs around $2,000

If you want a drone that can do multiple tasks on the construction site, it can cost up to $10,000.

2. Cheaper Than Human Labor

The drone does not replace all workers on a construction site. It can, however, take over specific tasks and save you considerable person-hours as well as labor costs.

You also save money by purchasing liability insurance for dangerous tasks. It’s cheaper to insure a drone than several workers.

3. Fast And Accurate

The use of drones has sped up the completion of a data collection project that used to take weeks.  Drones gather a lot of information quickly and accurately, allowing for faster decision-making and reducing the risk of overruns and costs.

4. Safer

We’ve already mentioned that drones can reach dangerous areas where it would be unsafe to send people.

5. Multi-Functional

Your $2,000, $5,000, or $10,000 drone investment is not just good for getting excellent pictures of a worksite.

Drones are versatile tools that are useful for a variety of purposes. Although imaging (photos, videos, etc.) is the most extensive use of drones, they also help in security, maintenance, payload transport, mapping, and security.

How Do You Choose The Right Drone For Your Worksite?

Here are some things to think about when buying a drone for construction.

Camera

The camera is the essential part of the drone, and it collects most of the data.

First, consider whether you want to swap between cameras. Fixed cameras are more common on cheaper drones. You can also get a drone equipped with a removable camera for a bit more.

Be aware that drones with high-end features don’t usually come with a camera. So, with the high price tag of the drone, you also have to budget for a compatible camera to go with it.

Whether you get a fixed camera drone or buy a camera separately, check the camera’s performance and capability.

Can it handle a 4K video? Is it able to work in low lighting conditions? Is there a zoom option?

Check if the camera supports live streaming via the controller or external devices. Live video should have a minimum resolution of 720p.

Types of Drone

There are two options: a fixed-wing or rotary-wing drone. A rotary-wing drone is best for construction sites.

A main drawback of the fixed-wing drone is its need to maintain forward motion to generate lift. As a result, you cannot hover over an area in order to inspect a particular section or part of the construction.

The rotary-wing UAV can hover in place and allow for comprehensive inspections of specific areas.

The flexibility of a rotary-wing drone in maneuvering is another advantage. A rotary-wing drone is easier to maneuver in tight spaces and complex turns than a traditional construction drone.

For applications that require flying over open terrains, such as crop spraying, fixed-wing drones work better. However, a rotary drone is more suitable for construction.

Drone Performance and Capability

You should verify the drone’s payload capability before you buy it.

Regardless of what drone you choose, you should also check the flight time. A drone should be able to stay in the air for atleast 30 minutes, giving you and your drone operator sufficient time to cover large areas.

Check to see if the drone supports intelligent flight modes. Intelligent flight modes allow you to easily capture the data you require without worrying about the drone following the correct flight path. For instance, DJI’s Point of Interest mode autonomously flies the drone around a specific point of interest.

A drone with obstacle sensors can detect and avoid obstacles, which is essential considering the number of obstacles on a construction site. Drones equipped with obstacle sensors are able to fly in tighter areas.

Make sure to verify the drone’s maximum transmission range. When working on a large construction site, a longer range is more helpful.

If you are working in rough environments, take a closer look at the drone specs to determine what wind speed it can withstand and whether it can work in extreme temperatures.

Software

Check if the drone comes with any kind of software. Enterprise drones are generally designed for commercial purposes and won’t come with any software specifically for construction.

They come with valuable general-purpose software for data analysis, mapping, fleet management, and data analysis.

Some DJI drones also include FlightHub, a program that coordinates, logs, and organizes data and flight planning.

Check if the drone is compatible with third-party software. If it is, you can look for construction-specific software and integrate it with the drone.

Also, check if the drone supports SDK. SDK allows you to make custom programs that meet your needs.

Portability

Portability is essential if you intend to use your drone in multiple locations. Therefore, you should look for a lightweight and compact drone that is easy to store in a small bag. Foldable drones are even better.

However, too much portability can lead to compromises in performance. So you need to determine the sweet spot for you.

You need to compromise portability if you want a competent, powerful drone. An extremely powerful drone is large and heavy.

Thus difficult to carry along.

Accessories and parts

Make sure that the manufacturer has all the needed parts. If the manufacturer works through authorized dealers, check that there’s one near you to ensure quick repairs and reduce project delays.

Check if the manufacturer offers accessories, such as extra batteries, a charging hub, a carrying bag, and other accessories.

Budget

The type of drone that you buy will depend on your budget.

An entry-level drone for enterprise use will cost you around $2,000. The drone will have a high-resolution camera and additional features such as obstacle detection. However, you won’t be able to add any custom payload.

For most construction jobs, mid-range drones (3,000-$6,000) are sufficient. They are lightweight and can accept custom payloads.

Drones with high-end features are as expensive as $7,000. The biggest advantage of such drones is their customizability in terms of the payload as well as software. These drones are also capable of working in harsh environments, have higher payload capacities, longer flight times, and can fly for longer periods.

When deciding how much you have to spend on a drone construction project, consider other costs as well. There are certain must-have accessories such as extra batteries, a battery charging station, and a carrying case.

You also require insurance on your drone (liability and comprehensive). In addition, you need to have a licensed UAV pilot if you don’t plan on flying the drone.

You also need third-party software for data analysis, fleet management, mapping, and fleet management.

If you want to purchase a drone with interchangeable cameras, you will likely need to buy the camera separately. It is expensive to buy a capable camera.

Drones In Construction Applications

1. Data Collection

Data collection is the main use of drones on construction sites. This includes taking detailed photos and mapping the construction site.

These data are helpful to engineers and construction managers who use them to plan and make crucial decisions. A drone helps engineers determine where to build roads and other amenities.

2. Carrying Payloads

High-end commercial drones like DJI Matrice 200 allow for customized payloads. You can attach different types of equipment, tools, and tasks to the DJI Matrice 200. To collect additional data, you could swap out a standard camera with an infrared/thermal camera.

You can also attach other equipment, such as LIDAR sensors and lights.

Drones can carry more than just tools and cameras. Drones will soon be able to lift loads to 250kg on construction sites. This is especially beneficial for those who live in forests or other harsh terrain.

3. Progress Update

Also, a drone quickly and easily monitors the progress of a project. Instead of walking around the entire construction site, a drone can take up close and panoramic photos and videos in just a few minutes.

This is particularly important for large-scale construction projects. You can even live-stream the video on other devices so multiple teams can watch.

If you need to check a potentially dangerous area, it’s cheaper, faster, and safer to do it with a drone instead of people.

4. Maintenance

A drone’s utility doesn’t stop at construction. Drones are becoming more helpful in maintaining various types of buildings and facilities.

A drone is helpful to inspect power lines, check for AC problems (using a thermal camera), or check difficult-to-reach areas such as the roof.

Listing Of Top Construction Drones

Yuneec H520 Commercial Drone

  • UAV for commercial surveys.
  • Useful for a wide range of aerial survey applications.
  • Powerful motor and battery
  • Flight time: 31 minutes
  • High payload capacity
  • Smart flight features that are simple and intuitive
  • Available in the UK & US, price ranges $2,500 – $5,300

DJI Matrice 200

  • Starting at $9,200
  • Powerful, all-in-one imaging and survey package
  • Professional-grade performance.
  • It is ideal for many agricultural applications.

Yuneec Typhoon H

  • Reliable 6-rotor design
  • Support for 1 and 2 operators
  • Object detection & collision avoidance
  • Unobstructed 360° 4K camera
  • Suitable for amateur & professional applications

DJI Matrice 600 (M600), Flying Platform

  • Flexible, powerful multi-rotor workhorse
  • Ideal for professional filmmakers
  • It is suitable for many applications.

DJI Matrice 100 (M100), Flying Platform

  • A flying platform that is highly flexible and programmable
  • Ideal for commercial imaging and sensor applications

DJI Inspire 1 Version 2.0

  • Ready-to-Fly 4K Camera drone for professional HD video production
  • One or two people can operate it.
  • Arms lift up and out of view by the camera.
  • More powerful than Phantom 3 and 4.
  • Two options for cameras: RAW and Micro Four-Thirds.
  • NOTE: Upgrade to the Inspire 2 ($2,999) to get longer flight times, a stronger metal chassis, and Apple ProRes/ CinemaDNG compatibility.

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