Rising to the challenge: leveraging drones in construction projects


It’s an exciting time to work in construction as the industry makes up for the slow uptake of new technologies with a booming interest in emerging opportunities. One perfect example is drone technology. Drones in construction offer numerous efficiency and economic advantages for worksites, and project managers in Australia are spoilt for choice with the number of sophisticated offerings on the market.

So, drones are changing the construction landscape, but how exactly are they being used for practical benefits? Here are common applications of drones on worksites.

Key applications of drones in construction

Mapping and surveying worksite operations

Drones in construction offer extensive capabilities and time-saving in mapping and surveying, providing high-resolution aerial imagery and accurate topographical data. Drones also provide access to difficult-to-reach areas that would otherwise require scaffolding or risky manoeuvres. By swiftly and safely capturing comprehensive views of the worksite, drones enable precise mapping and 3D models of terrain and structures, facilitating informed decision-making in your project planning and design phases.

Nicholas Pryke, Business Development Specialist at SITECH Construction Systems, promotes Trimble Stratus for improved oversight of worksites, and in particular, finds easier all-terrain mapping to be of great advantage. In his words, “Trimble Stratus allows you to capture whole site operations in larger time chunks,” he says.

“Using control points, a drone records footage and takes photos, which are then stitched together to provide a complete view of a construction site. These photos can be uploaded and processed in a cloud portal, which removes above-ground obstructions to give you a clear view of the site.”

Monitoring progress and asset management

The benefits of drones in construction extend beyond initial surveying to encompassreal-time monitoring of worksite progress and asset management. Equipped with advanced sensors and cameras, drones offer continuous surveillance of your construction activities, ensuring adherence to project timelines and quality standards. Moreover, drones facilitate efficient asset tracking, enabling stakeholders to monitor equipment use and inventory levels with ease.

Pryke describes using Trimble Stratus for drone-powered asset tracking this way, “With Trimble Stratus, you can click and draw a boundary around a stockpile on-site and get the stockpile volume right there. Using drone data, you can come back later and compare how that stockpile volume has decreased.”

As a tool to measure site volumes more frequently and safely, Pryke has found drone technology invaluable.

Enhancing efficiency with drone data

Faster data collection and analysis

One of the primary advantages of drones in construction is their ability to expedite data collection and analysis processes. Drones can quickly and safely capture detailed data in challenging and vast Australian environments, bypassing labour-intensive fieldwork. Leveraging emerging AI and machine learning advancements, data analysis is streamlined through automation and smart analysis tools.

Real-time insights into worksite conditions

Drones can swiftly scan worksites, providing a live status of your worksite conditions. These scans enable you to promptly identify potential issues and bottlenecks. By continuously monitoring construction activities from above, drones offer a comprehensive view of worksite dynamics, facilitating proactive intervention and risk mitigation measures.

Enhanced resource allocation and use

Accurate cost estimates are crucial for quantity takeoff and on-time, on-budget construction project delivery. By leveraging aerial imagery and data analytics, project managers can identify areas of inefficiency and adjust resource allocation and use accordingly, maximising productivity and minimising waste.

Improved decision-making

3D mapping and modelling for site analysis

Time-consuming and costly planning and mapping of worksites can now be done quickly and with exceptional 2D and 3D detail by drones. By generating thorough digital representations of worksites, drones enable precise spatial analysis and visualisation, empowering decision-makers to optimise project layouts and logistics.

Enhanced, up-to-date information for stakeholders

Accurate project oversight is crucial for worksite management, and drones make it easier and faster to obtain the latest information at every stage of the construction process. From project managers to clients and regulatory authorities, stakeholders benefit from access to real-time aerial imagery and data analytics. Leverage new technologies to enable informed decision-making, improve communication, and ensure project transparency and accountability.

Cost savings and ROI

Reduced operational costs

Perhaps most significantly, integrating drones into construction translates into tangible cost savings and return on investment (ROI). A 2020 report by Deloitte Access Economics on theeconomic benefits of drones in Australia found that the construction industry stood to enjoy AUD$1.34 billion in cost savings over the next 20 years.

By streamlining surveying and monitoring processes, drones reduce operational costs associated with labour, equipment, and time. Customer estimates are delivered faster and with more accuracy, leading to more effective customer acquisition. Moreover, the efficiency gains facilitated by drone data lead to accelerated project timelines and minimised rework, further enhancing profit margins and delivering substantial ROI.

The lift your construction management needs

The benefits of drones in construction are significant and impact various facets of project execution. From faster and safer surveying and mapping, reduced inspection costs and more efficient resource allocation and decision-making, worksite management is improved during the project planning, design, and construction phases. More than a handy new tool, drones are reshaping worksite operations for the better.

Curious how much smarter and faster your construction company could work? Connect with Trimble Viewpoint and find out!

Posted By

Nat is the marketing manager for Viewpoint’s Australian office. With fifteen years of experience in the software industry and a passion for construction, she delivers the best solutions to the industry and helps builders get the tools to get the job done.