Much has been made of the importance of “dashboards” for business leaders and project managers, and for good reason; in an age when information is becoming increasingly dispersed, it’s becoming more important for managers to have a central place to watch over the status of their projects, products, and personnel.
But for the construction manager, effective dashboards have been elusive. In many ways, construction managers act as a dashboard for owners, developers, contractors, and other project stakeholders. It’s their duty to synthesize information from many sources in many formats and translate it into a continuous understanding of project progress.
However, construction managers who are taking on large, complex projects or managing multiple projects at once would certainly benefit from having a central source of information. BIM came close to filling this gap, and for the design and planning stages, it certainly does an effective job. But once the project moves into construction, BIMs fail to offer answers to many of the construction manager’s most pressing questions.
Enter UAV mapping. By flying UAVs over a project site and processing visual data through a photogrammetry engine, an incredibly accurate 3D model can be generated. These “maps” are like BIMs updated to represent actual project conditions.
Multivista makes 2D orthomosaic and UAV maps available to customers through the cloud-based Multivista platform, and provides tools to annotate these maps and calculate distance, volume, area, and elevation.
UAV mapping opens the door to a new construction management approach. Using the UAV map as a central dashboard, construction managers can improve a variety of processes and drastically reduce the amount of labor required to stay on top of a given project.
Multivista UAV maps are overlaid on satellite imagery, providing a view of the project in the context of its surrounding area. This view enables project managers to effectively plan things like access routes for trucks and heavy equipment.
In addition, with the elevation tool, construction managers have the ability to remotely determine the slope of any part of the job site, something that would never have been possible with standard aerial imagery. This enables CMs to identify, and even virtually measure, the most appropriate areas for staging equipment and materials.
The volume tool gives construction managers the ability to accurately track the progress of several important construction processes, replacing eyeballing and guesswork with quantifiable data. These processes include:
- Material delivery
- Post-demo debris removal
By drawing a border around a dirt pile, for example, the CM is instantly returned a volume that accounts for height variance throughout the pile.
This information can be tracked over time to understand real rates of work (e.g., the excavators are able remove 10% of the required material per week) and analyzed to determine realistic completion dates.
3D UAV maps provide a high-level perspective on project progress. In addition to simply being able to see the state of the overall structure at a glance, these 3D maps can be compared with BIMs to understand the gap between current status and desired outcome.
On the financial side of things, UAV maps can be used to verify completion of work before remitting payment. By aligning the UAV flight schedule with contractor and subcontractor pay application deadlines, a CM can use 2D orthomosaic and UAV maps to review at-a-glance whether or not work has been completed in a satisfactory manner.
Importantly, the CM can accomplish this without going on site, enabling them to remit payment without unnecessary delays.
UAV mapping can also be used to enhance communication up and down the project hierarchy. Multivista customers have reported using their UAV maps as a visual aid during weekly stakeholder meetings to give everyone, even owners and developers who have never stepped foot on the job site, an accurate idea of how a project is progressing.
UAV maps can also be shared with contractors, subcontractors, and tradespeople to help them identify potential hazards and complete their work faster.
Multivista UAV maps can also be exported in a wide range of file formats to create 3D models for the VDC team. These files can be used in BIM verification workflows and for adding realistic elements to existing models.
With UAV mapping, construction managers finally have a central place to view and share an overall perspective of their projects. Used to its full potential, UAV mapping enables CMs to accomplish more in less time, manage more projects simultaneously, minimize errors, and speed up project delivery.