Ever wondered if there is a more cost effective, safe and efficient method of inspecting buildings, roofs and structures? The answer could be simple, drone inspections. Avoid timely health & safety legislation, risky working at height scenarios, scaffolding and somewhat expensive yet restrictive cherry picker hire. Drone inspections are regularly being used to closely evaluate buildings, roofs & structures.
This post will highlight the numerous aids that drone technology can bring to the property, facilities and asset management industries whilst discussing key considerations for businesses looking to get ahead of the competition.
#1. Game changing aerial tool
Drones are proving to be extremely effective for several inspection applications to closely evaluate structures and buildings while identifying major defects. Hundreds of businesses across the world are already utilising the technology to improve decision making, increase efficiency and reduce risks & costs. I’ll list a few below to give you a better idea of the scope:
- Emergency Services (police, fire, search & rescue)
- Telecommunications (masts & assets)
- Renewables (wind turbines & solar panels)
- Infrastructure (railways, bridges, roads, reservoirs, dams, electricity pylons)
- Construction (sign off, quality control & monitoring works)
- Property & Building Surveyors (roofs, guttering’s, structural, defects & emergency repairs)
- Insurance (claims on property/asset repairs or damage)
- Shipping (internal & external)
- Oil & Gas (platform & flare)
#2. Cost effective, efficient and safe
Now I know I’ve already mentioned the key benefits (cost effective, safe & efficient) however you’re probably questioning what is it exactly that makes drones better than traditional inspection techniques?
- Drones can be deployed within 48 hours if the location and weather is suitable
- Reach areas that would be difficult or timely by foot
- Vertical take-off and landing in congested and tight spaces
- Significantly increased coverage of areas being inspected in record time
- Reach normally inaccessible or dangerous areas around buildings & structures
- Prevent additional disruption to operations that would normally need to be shut down
- Negate the need to ‘work at heights’ or in ‘high-risk’ environments
- Considerably more cost effective than manned aviation
- Reduce manpower requirements and unforeseen costs such as cherry Pickers, scaffolding or access towers
- Automatically record/secure collected data and create a visual audit trail for project management
- Powerful data analytics, detailed report generation and decision-making tools for post inspection (ideal for surveyors, engineers, facilities managers etc.)
- Data can be securely shared with colleagues for collaborative and accurate decision making
#3. Close proximity and non-intrusive
Drone inspections can be a significantly more concise option to finding defects than the human eye. There are a variety of different cameras, lenses and software packages that can drive your companies service offering. A huge bonus of using drone technology are the large sensors that are readily available to conduct extremely efficient close-proximity inspections. Here at Cyclops UAV we regularly use large sensors to get ‘up close and personal’ with structures and buildings to discover the smallest of defects or abnormalities, many would be almost impossible to find working by cherry picker or scaffolding. Using large sensors further allows for in-depth and detailed post analysis by engineers, surveyors or facilities managers such as zooming in further to identify cracks, making detailed annotations or comparing other parts of the area. Collaborative inspection software means a second opinion is as easy as a few clicks, adding real value to the services you offer. Finally, drones provide another dynamic for many types of inspection as they are completely ‘non-intrusive’ meaning they will have minor implications on operations, if any at all. The oil & gas industry regularly inspect offshore platforms whilst the rig is fully operational meaning no downtime or expensive additional costs for the client.
Take a look at the screenshot below – it shows a section of roof that was photographed with a large sensor being closely inspected for a routine check-up.
#4. Streamed in real-time for instant decision making in emergency situations
Typically, drones can be deployed within hours and take only a few minutes for safe deployment making them ideal for fast response damage evaluation. Surveyors, engineers, facilities managers or in-house teams can review live streams from the drone on the ground in real-time whilst inspections take place. This can rapidly decrease the time taken to make prompt decisions in emergency situations when repairs may be urgently required. Teams can further direct the drone to areas of interest and closely analyse specific surfaces or structures during flight if necessary. Through enabling collaborative working practices and real time in-flight viewpoints drones can significantly decrease decision making time, costs and risks in complex reactive situations.
#5. Turn data into powerful insights for on-going asset management
Actionable data is the most vital aspect of drone inspection operations, enabling valuable and powerful insights for ongoing asset management. Delivering close-proximity high definition aerial imagery and vertical viewpoints (orthomosaics), data can then be placed through industry specific software to generate an interactive inspection portal to assist with informative decision making. Users can closely review detailed imagery, annotate key areas of interest, measure, view 2D/3D models, point clouds, generate comprehensive reports and export to various formats (PDF, JPEG, LAZ & more). Going one step further; cloud based technology means data can be easily stored to build a visual audit trail and securely shared in real-time across teams for a much more focused and collaborative approach to project management.
Cyclops UAV provide commercial drone services to the property, commercial & industrial sectors. All pilots are CAA certified, IOSH safety passport holders and Red Cross first aid trained. We are also members of the Association of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (ARPAS-UK). Operations accredited by SGS.