The means in which we are seeing technology infiltrate the construction industry may seem outlandish at times. These days, they don’t just exist in the realm of science-fiction; they are fast becoming our new reality.
From clothing that detects worker’s mistakes on site, buildings that respond to environmental shifts, such as the position and the sun, and drones flying overhead to survey sites — these are all examples of technologies used on the job site today. And they are making a real difference.
Technology is driving progress, and construction is a prime example of an industry that readily adopts the latest innovations. Indeed, according to a recent global survey of the construction industry conducted by KPMG, 93 per cent of respondents think that technology and innovation will significantly change their business.
In order to find out more, Jobsite ANZ spoke with Richard Bazenm, the Regional Director of National Drones, about some of the technological innovations he is seeing in construction, specifically with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
Drones In Construction
National Drones, based in Western Australia, specialises in many different UAVs for use in the construction industry.
“At National Drones, we provide a range of innovative services to the construction industry,” said Mr. Bazenm. “Drones, or UAVs, can be used throughout the lifecycle of a construction project, and it’s certainly not just about taking pretty pictures from the air.”
“Drones, or UAVs, can be used throughout the lifecycle of a construction project, and it’s certainly not just about taking pretty pictures from the air.”
For example, GPS-assisted UAVs with collision protection and active camera stabilisation are providing a level of previously unmatched visibility over large-scale projects. According to Mr. Bazenm, this aims at “improving transparency, enhancing site safety, and helping avert costly disruptions. Drones cut costs, deliver efficiencies, and save time.”
A View From The Top
The use case for drones in construction is far-reaching and applies across multiple sectors. Mr. Bazenm believes that real-time capture and supply of footage enhances communication. It also helps assure the success of delicate maneuvers.
“Beyond standard imaging capability, captured footage can be processed through our specialist software to produce ortho-mosaics, digital surface models, and three-dimensional representations of worksites. They can then be viewed and annotated, without the need for specialist software on the customer side,” he adds.
Other applications include:
Engineers can use drone data to measure distances, areas, stockpile volumes, create polygons, place identifying markers, identify latent machinery, and add annotations using a standard browser.
Utilising Ground Control Points drones can be used for creating accurate maps and initial land surveys.
As projects near completion, digital thermography can be used to expose defects in insulation, air leaks around balcony doors and high-set windows, as well as loose ductwork, all of which can potentially result in energy loss and excess power consumption. Digital thermography can also expose surplus moisture, a possible result of plumbing defects and roof leaks.
Solar panel installers and engineers can also benefit from thermal imaging as well, being able to verify the efficacy of new installations.
A Competitive Advantage
Mr. Bazenm explains how UAVs provide a unique competitive edge amidst strong competition and shrinking budgets, particularly as the focus on technological advancements within construction continue to grow.
“Maintaining a competitive edge in the civil engineering and construction industry doesn’t necessarily mean keeping tight control over project costs,” says Mr. Bazenm. “Blowouts in construction timeframes, workplace incidents resulting in industrial action or worksite closures (bringing) work to a halt, and under-utilized equipment can all have a devastating impact on the profitability of civil construction and building projects.”
Using UAVs, WHS managers can continually observe, progress, and identify new and emerging hazardous risks. It places them in a better position to plan risk minimisation and mitigation strategies throughout the course of a project.
Drones are just one example of technology that is being used in the construction industry to provide better insights, more streamlined workflows, and safer working conditions.