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Exciting news for the construction industry, as drones are hoped to take construction quality, efficiency and productivity to new levels. Design and build projects can be complex, but it’s much easier to monitor progress nowadays with digital help. Technical advancements have taken the guesswork out of addressing problems. Yet even digital tools are not a solve all for problems with aesthetics, structure and materials. A simulation or ‘digital twin’ can increase productivity by up to 15%, which would represent £7bn of savings on UK infrastructure spending alone per year.
One of the snags is, to build a digital twin, you need comprehensive, in depth data, the kind that drones can collect. In fact drones can carry out site surveys 400 times faster than traditional methods. In recent years they have been successfully utilised on a small scale by construction, infrastructure and fuel industries. But there are issues with using drones for an increased amount of larger projects nationally.
So what’s the problem?
There is an international standard regulation in the use of drones commercially, called Visual Line of Sight (VLOS). The regulation demands that a professional pilot travel to the site in question, to fly the drone. There are several snags involved in this activity that frequently make it untenable. Problems include time wasted waiting for a pilot to arrive, and the project is dependant on the skill and care of the pilot. Then there is the cost of the pilot’s travel etc, which will be the same whatever the size of job. Providers also experience difficulties as they have to recruit, manage, and upskill the pilots, along with sorting their travel to and from the work.
Things are moving along though in the UK, supported by various government initiatives. So it may not be too long before plant machinery, tools and equipment are joined on-site by these handy flying gadgets.
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