Drones zones: Building the buzz for drones in construction

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  • Drones zones: Building the buzz for drones in construction
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Leo Zhan


Leo Zhan


Perspective 2023 vol 2
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Spray painting, site-surveying and drilling drones are already here but the construction industry is yet to fully capitalise on this high-flying technology.

Drone technology is revolutionising the way that the construction industry operates and RLB’s team is thinking carefully about how drone operations can benefit our work, enhance the services we offer to our clients and help our industry deliver more efficient, sustainable and profitable construction.

The global construction drone market is growing rapidly. Analysts estimate the size of the construction drone market had a value of US$5.3 billion at the end of 2022, but expect this figure to edge towards $12 billion by 2028 – a compound annual growth rate of 15.5%. Drone technology’s biggest advantage, arguably, is its ability to capture high-quality images and data from hard-to-reach locations. This allows for more accurate and efficient site assessments and measurements, which in turn can support more accurate cost estimates and project timelines. Drones can also be equipped with sensors and cameras to provide real-time data on site conditions – an invaluable tool to identify potential issues before they become costly problems.

Drone technology can also boost safety on construction sites. By allowing for remote inspections and data collection, drones can reduce the need for workers to physically access high-risk areas. This can help prevent accidents and injuries and reduce the risk of liability for construction companies and project owners.

Another benefit of drone technology is the comprehensive view it can provide of construction projects. By capturing aerial images and videos, drones can help clients, project managers and stakeholders gain a better understanding of a project’s progress and status. This can support more informed decision-making and better communication among team members.

Drone rangers save cost and time

Drone technology also has the potential to reduce costs for construction projects. By providing more accurate data and reducing the need for manual inspections, drones can help streamline project workflows and reduce labour costs. By identifying potential issues early on, drones can help prevent costly delays and rework.

One 2020 study by Deloitte found drones can deliver up to 75% in cost and time savings, and that the savings from the technology investment would exceed the capital cost by 2026.

Is the sky the limit? Maybe. But as with any emerging technology, there are some challenges ahead. The first is the need for skilled operators who are familiar with both the technology and the regulations governing its use. Concerns around privacy and data security when using drones to capture images and data on construction sites is another challenge.

Despite these challenges, the benefits of drone technology are clear and RLB is upskilling our people to leverage drone technology to improve the accuracy and efficiency of our work, reduce risks and costs, and provide more comprehensive services to our clients.

Recognising the potential of drone technology in the construction industry, RLB is committed to staying at the forefront of this rapidly evolving field. We have invested in the required equipment, licences, training and development of our team members to ensure we can fly high with drone technology. We have also developed protocols and procedures to ensure that our drone operations are conducted in compliance with all relevant regulations and standards.

These magnificent flying machines are set to become essential tools in the quantity surveyor’s toolkit – and RLB is laying the groundwork to help drones take off.