Formerly the stuff of aviation enthusiasts, drones are becoming more popular as tools and equipment in several industries, including construction. And they aren’t the hum-drum base models one sees zipping around at the park—these are the Cadillacs of technology with sensors, microphones, thermal imaging, cameras, and a host of technologies at the ready for improving job site activity, efficiency, and productivity.
Enter the “smart” drone—a sensor-enabled device that allows users to gather and store information in the cloud through a hub that is compatible with Windows, Android, and Linux operating systems. The date is captured and relayed in any number of formats, layouts, and user interfaces, and it is searchable, organizable, and ready for custom labels or sorting.
The benefit, of course, is timeliness. Smart drones can monitor and report on people, places, and things in a constant, up-to-the-minute fashion that slashes the amount of time it takes to make corrections in the event they are needed or to solve problems when things go awry. Smart drones are used to track inventory—use them to do check-in and check-out procedures, monitor RFID tagged inventory, or locate and map inventory, and all the date collected can be integrated with project work orders for completely seamless systems.
In fact, the “construction map” is the next big thing for overseeing and keeping in order the various moving parts on a job site. Smart drones and their associated technologies, such as RFID tags and reporting software, help owners and managers create fully integrated blueprints of a job site containing everything anyone needs to know about what and who is moving on the ground; what materials are present, on the way, and needed; the availability of infrastructure; incoming and outgoing labour force; and ongoing productivity updates. At the end of the day, the data and its interrelationships are layered into a single presentation platform for all to see and work from.
As job sites become more complicated and operate under increasingly strict timelines and budgets, smart drones might just be the saving grace.