5 Key Use Cases for UAVs in Construction

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Ryan Holmes
Multivista Program Director – UAS

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, have revolutionized the construction industry. In a recent survey conducted by PwC, the results suggest that the use of drones in the construction industry can boost productivity by up to 85% while reducing costs by 35%. 

In fact, UAVs are increasing safety, efficiency, and productivity throughout the project lifecycle. But how exactly are they doing it? From surveying a new site to showcasing a completed project, we’re discussing five key UAV applications in construction.

Want to look at a specific application? Jump ahead to any section:

  1. 1. Initial land mapping
  2. 2. Construction progress monitoring
  3. 3. Tracking equipment and materials
  4. 4. Enabling safer inspections
  5. 5. Creating captivating marketing materials

1. Initial land mapping

UAVs can gather important site information faster which can help supplement initial site surveying.

UAVs can quickly generate large amounts of information and when equipped with technology like multispectral cameras and light detection and ranging (LIDAR), they can be a valuable support tool during the initial site surveying and land mapping processes before construction begins. It’s worth mentioning that traditional surveying is still a significant and key component to the construction process, as it is used for the overall layout throughout construction.

Aerial data and high-resolution images captured by UAVs can be combined to create highly detailed topographic maps and 3D models of a site, and is a better way to illustrate elevation changes, vegetation, existing buildings and infrastructure, and more. Architects and engineers can then use these maps and models to inform their designs, while project managers can assess potential risks and challenges associated with the site.

2. Construction progress monitoring

UAVs quickly gather precise images and videos that can be turned into measurable deliverables and provide information that is often missed or misconstrued by traditional progress monitoring methods.

Another crucial role of UAVs is progress monitoring. Traditional progress monitoring, in which a person walks around the site on foot and makes notes, is time consuming and often results in an incomplete picture of progress. UAVs, on the other hand, can quickly capture images and videos that can be turned into measurable deliverables, and capture a variety of angles and perspectives with more precision and complete coverage that only an aerial vehicle can.

When performed frequently throughout all stages of a project, UAV surveys can increase visibility for all stakeholders, providing a clear, accurate picture of completeness and enabling them to make any necessary adjustments to timeline, design, scheduling, budget, and more.

3. Tracking equipment and materials

UAVs’ high-resolution aerial images and video allow for the assessment of the location and quantity of materials and equipment on site, reducing the need for on-foot audits.

Similar to progress monitoring, traditional methods for tracking and managing materials usually involve a time-consuming manual audit performed on foot, while UAV technology streamlines the process.

By capturing high-resolution aerial images and video, UAVs can quickly assess the quantity and location of material stockpiles, tools, and equipment throughout a project site. You can even leverage barcodes or radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to enable UAVs to identify materials from the air, eliminating the need for manual identification.

4. Enabling safer inspections

Using UAVs allows for accurate inspections of dangerous locations without endangering human lives.

There are numerous hazards on construction sites, including heights, unstable terrain, toxic materials, heavy equipment, power lines, and incomplete or damaged structures. In fact, nearly half of the deadliest jobs in the United States are in construction. So when one component of completed work requires inspection, it’s not always safe to send a human to take a look — especially when construction is still in progress. 

Luckily, UAVs can easily reach hard-to-access or dangerous locations without endangering human lives, and take high-resolution photos and videos that can be used to complete inspections. This is especially useful for large sites and tall structures. 

It’s important to note that UAVs come with their own hazards, and must only be used by licensed, trained operators with the proper permits, safety equipment, and insurance.

5. Creating captivating marketing materials

UAVs allow you to step up your promotion and marketing visuals with aerial photos and videos. 

In the construction industry, visuals are a crucial part of communicating value. Many companies utilize before and after photos, timelapse videos, and aerial shots in their marketing and advertising materials to showcase their work and draw attention to their services.

UAVs can play a significant role in creating these materials. From stunning aerial footage to unique exterior images, they can help generate visually appealing content that effectively promotes projects to potential clients or investors.

Ready to transform your processes with UAVs?

No matter the process — initial site mapping, progress monitoring, tracking materials, inspections, or creating marketing materials — drones can help you manage your construction project with precision, delivering the actionable project intelligence your team needs. 

Don’t want to handle a UAV workflow on your own? Hiring professionals might be the best option for you. Multivista offers a full suite of professional construction drone and UAV services, including photos, videos, and panoramas, plus mapping services.  

Request a demo to learn more.

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