Construction is one of the most dynamic, responsive and unique sectors in the Indian economy. It contributes significantly to the country’s economic development by generating output, creating jobs and facilitating income generation. The Indian construction industry is undergoing a seismic transformation, with technology playing a pivotal role in shaping the industry.
One new-gen technology that is gaining interest in the construction industry is the usage of drones. It is poised to serve as an effective medium towards building smart cities in a cost-effective, faster and safer manner with optimum utilisation of skills and efforts. It is expected that in the next 10 years, the use of drones in construction will register a manifold growth and will play a leading role in futuristic buildings.
According to a recent industry report, India is one of the fastest growing markets for UAVs and by 2021, the Indian UAV market is expected to reach USD 885.7 million. The usage of drones in the construction industry, has seen a 239% growth year-over-year globally, higher than any other commercial sector. In India too, the growth is set to increase manifold.
In the present scenario, it is very crucial for India to realise the aerial revolution that can be brought about by the proper utilisation of drones which have emerged as a highly viable commercial tool globally. As a matter of fact, the most notable sector of economy being benefitted by drones is construction. There’s no denying on the fact that there is an unstoppable rise of commercial drones; a market set to be worth billions over the coming years.
There are numerous safety and legal implications that one should be aware of, as well as the differences between the commercial and personal use of drones. Despite increasing adoption and regulation, there is still tremendous growth in the use of drones in construction. Drones can add significant value to a project throughout its lifecycle.
The areas where drones will benefit the construction process:
Improvised quality and thermal imaging
The quality of the scans and aerial imagery provided by the cameras mounted on top of the drones are undeniably superior. Drones equipped with high-resolution thermal cameras serve as an excellent investigative tool for a host of building-specific applications and energy efficiency audits, including roof insulation inspection. They can also graphically depict energy inefficiencies and identify wet insulations in the roof or elsewhere by displaying temperature variations within the building.
Drones integration with BIM
Drones have proved themselves to be an asset for data-driven approach and thus can effectively undertake numerous tasks to aid the BIM (Building Information Modeling) workflow. Giving an aerial perspective in the creation of the initial BIM, drones also provide scalable point cloud scanning and photography at different stages of construction.
Highly cost-effective in topographical surveys
A drone carrying out standard survey and inspection activities is undoubtedly a significant cost-effective approach, as it removes the need for any kind of monetary or physical efforts put in for the surveys. As an example, for a typical topographic survey, the use of a drone can help to reduce costs by approximately 50%.
Ensuring completion of projects
The use of drones completely eradicates the need of shutting down active work sites for the concerns of maintaining and inspecting work like pipeline or flare stacks, which can be carried out safely under UAV supervision. Drones also monitor site activity and provide a comprehensive overview of the site through land surveying. Therefore, it is highly efficient in reducing the time frame for the process of construction leading to a speedy delivery of the projects.
Reducing risk and keeping people safe
Drones help in minimising the possibility of risk by being monitored to perform a task. The UAV technology thus helps in supporting the drive towards zero incidents onsite as it takes away some of the risks from the construction activities like the need for labourers to work at heights when inspecting assets like bridges. UAVs and drones are effective in conducting safer, faster and more accurate inspections instead of safety managers, who physically conduct the site walk-throughs to identify potential hazards.
Compact and intelligent results
Acute 3D software can dramatically enhance productivity by turning a simple series of digital photos taken with a smart camera. When these cameras are mounted on drones they give a 360-degree overview of the project into a 3D reality mesh model. The result is a compact, intelligent representation of the asset in its current operating context. This also eases out the task for engineers and designers allowing them to work on an up-to-date 3D model for their enhancement and maintenance plans.
Drones are tools that will play a fundamental role in ensuring that the construction industry can deliver huge and complex projects with a better finishing and on-time results.
[This is an authored article by AV Antao, Chief Operating Officer, Synergy Property Development Services. All views, opinions and expressions are personal and limited to the author.]