Contruction Today - July/August 2017 - 19
Documentation and Inspections
In addition to using drone scans as a foundation for renderings of proposed buildings,
they can take the place of people for inspections and documentation.
"There are safety aspects to sending people
up on boom or lift," Hagen says. "It's easier to
fly a device and not have a human at risk. In
fact, we got into this technology because of a
five-story cluster of buildings where we were
trying to inspect the shingles. We decided
that we needed to replace the whole idea of
getting a man on a lift with a camera. Since
then, our primary motive with this technology has been to decrease risk and increase
quality in construction."
of capture is
the quality is
Repeat scans can be used to track changes
and progress on the construction site as a
building goes up, comparing current work
to design models as well as the work that
was completed a week ago. Compared with
a 4-D model with an embedded schedule,
a drone scan can indicate if construction is
happening at the expected rate, so course
corrections can be made to keep the project
Some advanced aerial devices can do thermal imaging studies
to compare heat loss variation between different roofing materials.
They also can be used to document earthwork, regularly surveying
and measuring stockpiles to accurately calculate volumes of dirt that
come and go over days and weeks.
Maps and models created from the air also can provide valuable
information about what's going on underground. Used at the right
time, drone scans can document where underground utilities are
about to buried, or where high-tension cables will soon be concealed
inside a building's foundation. Creating a visual record during construction is much cheaper and easier than x-raying to locate hidden
dangers after construction is complete.
Beck Technology, Stewart Carroll
runs all aspects of the
strategy and vision, and
the use of its technology.
He has been a lead A/E/C
technologist for well
over a decade and
continually speaks on the
Plenty of third-party companies are happy to run drone flights on
behalf of construction firms. But what's holding construction companies back from adding drones to their VDC capabilities?
There's no longer a pilot license required, although the FAA does
require a drone-licensing exam and may require approval for flights
in certain areas, such as near airports. Some construction firms are
intimidated by the highly specialized knowledge needed to break
new ground with a rapidly changing, new technology. Others worry
about the legal parameters and risk.
Whether they run drones in-house or outsource the service, more
and more construction firms are coming around to the idea that
this is a useful technology that will bring enhancements to existing
workflows. But to project owners who have a lot of money on the
line, is a drone just a nifty toy, or does it have a real impact on who
wins the work?
As the saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words." Owners
are, by nature, emotionally invested in their projects. They have vision, time and money on the line. Gone are the days when they were
delighted if they could get four or five different helicopter photos of
the job site each month.
If you really want to ramp up an owner's excitement, show them
your drone footage at your first concept meeting. Or better yet, show
them the 3-D model you built of their idea, overlaid on top of your
drone footage, with a 360-degree panoramic view and embedded
pricing. Zoom in, zoom out. Pause, back up and take in all the detail.
See what the view will be from the 26th floor of a building that isn't
"Emotional engagement comes from being able to see their project from different perspectives," Hagen says. "Drones allow preconstruction to understand the site before they even get there, and gives
architects a background of what the land looks like, so together, they
can show the client what the build will look like in relationship to
the land. It's about trying to better portray to prospective clients the
building they will occupy in the future."
integration of cost and
scoping technologies to
owners and developers.
JULY/AUGUST 2017 CONSTRUCTION-TODAY.COM
also form the foundation for realistic 3-D
modeling during the conception phase.
"When we align a point cloud up on a
surveyor-created CAD file, it lines up exactly,"
he says. "We have two different, independent
workflows, but when we overlay them, they
are scaled exactly on top of each other."