Drone-based Construction Surveying and Inspection

Drone-based Construction Surveying and Inspection

Surveying the land for the proposed construction is the crucial first step, which evaluates the project’s viability and helps to properly design the construction for higher durability. A construction survey company is responsible for accurately estimating property boundaries and measuring the land features to create a precise map of the site.

Another very important aspect of large construction projects is the inspection of the work progress, equipment stack, boundaries around pits, and other safety standards, which secures a project from loss, accident, and delays.  

However, the traditional method of construction survey and inspection, which involves treading on the site with instruments, often faces various challenges that come in the way of yielding accurate data, besides making the process slow.

The use of drones is one big thing that has happened to construction in recent years, revolutionising site surveying and inspection, giving new dimensions to monitoring and collaboration, and providing greater control over project costs. In this article, we’ll delve into the use of drones for construction surveys and inspections.

How are drones impacting the construction business?

The two key areas of construction are site surveying and site inspection.  Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) provide faster, less expensive surveying of construction sites without sacrificing accuracy. In addition, drones are proving to be a great help in terms of inspection and surveillance of construction sites, providing real-time information with high-resolution imagery.

Drones require minimal additional training and education to operate, allowing you to collect data as frequently as you want without putting your personnel in danger, thus lowering safety concerns. 

With improved technology and widespread applications, service drones are becoming more and more affordable worksite tools, making it easier than ever to collect more frequent and precise site data. 

What are the fundamental strengths of drones for use in construction?

Below are the benefits of using drones in construction in specific terms:

1. Way faster operation

If it takes some ground-based survey crews days or even weeks to thoroughly cover a large construction site, it will be just a matter of a few hours for a drone to finish the same work. Drones can simply fly over the site, comprehensively acquiring all of the necessary data in a fraction of the time it would take using traditional methods.

  2. Pinpoint accuracy

When it comes to construction, accuracy is critical. Spot-on surveys help you get up-to-date and accurate data. Drones can capture a large number of data points, resulting in more detailed surveys. Integrated software can use the data to generate exact topographic maps and 3D models.

  3. Completely risk-free operation 

Drones eliminate the need for surveyors to work in dangerous or difficult-to-access regions, such as on busy roads, near cliffs, or in unstable terrain. By deploying drones, the chance of accidents and injuries is considerably reduced.

   4. Significant cost savings 

How would you react if you could find a way to save money on your project? Well, drone-based construction surveying helps you accomplish exactly that! Rather than employing staff to examine your site, you can simply use a drone and a skilled operator. You will save not just labour costs, but also time. You may also conduct surveys regularly without exceeding your budget.

   5. Minute details from high-resolution imagery:

Drones armed with high-resolution cameras can capture comprehensive aerial imagery, which can then be utilised to generate precise topographic maps, orthophotos, and 3D models of a construction site.

   6. Versatile use 

Project needs may vary at different stages. Drones can be configured to meet various requirements by changing flight routes or using a special sensor. To acquire the specialised data you need, switch between payloads such as LiDAR, thermal cameras, and multispectral cameras.

   7. Real-Time Data

Drones provide real-time data and imagery, which is extremely useful for tracking work progress, recognizing potential issues, and making quick choices. 

What different types of drones are used in construction?

Depending on the unique needs of a construction project, there can be a variety of drones equipped with specific instruments appropriate for construction surveys and inspections, as given below:

  • Drones featuring high-resolution cameras – These drones are intended to produce detailed and high-quality photos of construction sites, structures, highways, bridges, and other items. High-resolution cameras can record minute details that can be used to plan and track project development.
  • Drones with thermal sensors – This type of drone can detect and measure the temperature of objects and surfaces, which makes them ideal for detecting heat leaks, finding locations of energy loss, and assessing heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems.
  • Drones armed with lidar sensors: These drones create precise 3D maps of construction sites and other structures using light and laser sensors. These maps can help with safety issues, hazard identification, and construction planning. For instance, they can detect and record possible risks, including soil erosion, equipment wear and tear, and the presence of hazardous waste.
  • Drones with heavy lift capabilities: These drones are made to carry large items, such as tools and materials for construction, to remote and difficult-to-reach locations.

What are the applications of drones in construction?

It’s amazing to see the numerous ways drones are helping construction to ensure durability, future upgrades, documentation, and so on. Take a look at below:    

  • Quick assessment of the site: Before the commencement of work, drones can be used to scan a construction site to produce a quick, thorough, and precise topographical map, identifying any risks or impediments on the land.
  • Measurements of volume: By using drones to collect data and compute the volumes of stockpiles, excavated earth, etc. Construction teams can more effectively manage supplies and wastes and carry out earthwork operations.
  • Erosion control: Construction causes a lot of soil movement, which can lead to sedimentation and erosion, affecting both the site and the surrounding natural regions. Use your drone for construction surveying to monitor sedimentation and erosion patterns on a site and take concrete measures to stop soil erosion. This helps you stay in compliance with environmental laws.
  • Inspection of the structure exterior: Drones can be used to evaluate hard-to-reach portions of a structure, like roofs, facades, chimneys, etc., without the need for scaffolding or other expensive equipment.
  • 3D modelling: Intricate 3D models of structures are produced by making use of high-resolution photos taken by a drone from various angles. These models help plan, illustrate, and maintain the direction of your project.
  • Monitoring construction progress: It might be tiring to try to keep tabs on how things are progressing. However, drones allow you to monitor work in real-time and obtain an aerial perspective of the entire site. Everyone can receive regular updates on the project’s progress, from stakeholders to project managers.
  • Inspecting potential accident points: Survey drones equipped with thermal cameras may detect heat leaks in a building’s shell and pinpoint hotspots in electrical systems. Use this data to direct your efforts to increase energy efficiency and safety.
  • Creating as-built documentation: Drones provide extensive pictures and video data of completed projects, allowing you to create exact as-built documentation for future reference, maintenance, or retrofitting.
  • To help with slope stability detection: Slopes may become unstable due to a number of reasons. Detecting slope character in the proposed construction site and nearby areas is necessary to adopt a proper design for the construction. Drones allow you to collect data for stability analysis, which helps you assess and reduce the risk of this happening.
  • Documentation of archeological sites: Drones can be used to photograph historic structures or archaeological sites before construction or rehabilitation work begins, thereby preserving cultural heritage.

What are the government’s rules and regulations for using drones in India?

Civil drones can now be operated in India under new regulations released by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The following is a brief overview of what you need to know:

  • Registration and Licencing: In order to operate a drone, an operator must obtain a license from the DGCA and register the drone. The DGCA’s “Digital Sky platform,” which offers a single online portal for drone registration and permissions linked to drone operations, is where registrations can be completed.
  • Operator Qualifications: Operators need to be at least eighteen years old, have finished a course from an institute recognised by the DGCA, and have passed a written test. The license to operate drones is valid for ten years.
  • Limitations on Use: There are restrictions on flying drones in terms of places and times. For instance, drone operators are not permitted to fly in or close to airports.