Commercial drone usage is going mainstream. From Hollywood to home sales, an enormous range of industries have begun incorporating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into their operations.
It seems like where UAVs fly, money follows, and no industry has more opportunities for drone integration than construction. In 2016, Goldman Sachs estimated that UAVs had a total addressable market of approximately $100 billion, and construction is expected to represent just over 10% of that opportunity.
Some of that spending has already materialized, and development companies and general contractors who make use of drone technology are already seeing huge returns on their investments. In the future, the ROI of drone technology is only expected to increase.
Let’s take a look at three ways the use of drones in construction is saving companies money and increasing revenue.
Large job-sites can present supervisors and managers with serious logistical challenges when it comes to keeping track of all the moving pieces. Piles of materials, vehicles parked all over the site, teams working far from each other - all of these things would be much easier to monitor with some perspective. That’s where drones come in.
Imagine being able to look at your jobsite from hundreds of feet in the air and see every moving part at once. Every pile of lumber, every truck and trailer, all captured at once in a single image. Need to measure for perimeter fencing or determine if equipment will be able to find a route between structures and materials?
Drones give you perspective on your entire project, letting you see all your resources in one easy to manage, top-down view. As the technology continues to advance, drones are even capable of handling even more advanced tasks like volume measurement. In the hands of the right person, this kind of visibility can change the game.
The importance of visual documentation for the construction industry is tough to overstate. Armed with as-built photographs of every part of a building project, developers and contractors can protect themselves from legal risk, costly repairs, and delays. Together, these three things make up the majority of the unexpected costs a construction company might absorb for a given project.
Because of their incredible mobility, drones can photograph parts of a job site that might be too dangerous or inaccessible for human photographers to easily capture. In addition, drones can photograph birds-eye views that would have been impossible to see before this technology became viable.
Sometimes, UAV visual documentation has surprising side benefits. For example, aerial photographs can be used to improve security. If some materials or equipment go missing from a construction site, drone images can help pinpoint their last-known location or even locate them if they have simply been misplaced.
Whether its through mitigating risk or reducing resource requirements, we’ve explored ways UAVs can save developers and contractors time and money — but that’s only half of the equation. Drones can do much more than reduce expenses. In various capacities, they’ve also proven themselves to be incredible revenue generators.
One of the primary ways drones drive revenue growth for construction companies is through marketing. Sweeping aerial shots of new buildings are extremely attractive, and footage like this can be easily incorporated into advertising and promotional materials.
For building owners, drone photography and videography can be used to sell potential tenants, investors, and buyers. For developers and contractors, this kind of video can be used to show off successful past projects and win new business.
Buildings don’t even need to be complete for drone photography to have marketing value. In fact, creative firms have come up with ways to use UAVs in their marketing before construction has even begun. For example, one might fly a drone to the exact position of the penthouse window in a future luxury apartment building and take a 180° video of the view, then use that video in promotional materials for prospective tenants.
Commercial UAV technology is still relatively young. The changing regulatory environment has only recently enabled businesses to scale up drone operations and explore new ways to use these devices to save money and increase revenue. Already, however, construction companies have found innovative ways to increase their ROI with UAVs. Will your business join them?