Drones can be used to monitor construction progress over time, inform project management and prevent projects from finishing late—and their use on jobsites has increased nearly 240 percent this year. The construction industry, including glass and glazing subcontractors, is the fastest growing commercial adopter of drone technology.

In the webinar “Managing Construction Projects with Drone Data,” held by “ENR,” DroneDeploy co-founder and CCO Jono Millin discussed the capabilities drone data provides project managers.

According to Millin, drone use is increasing because it can be difficult for construction contractors to understand what is happening and changing across large jobsites despite the recent adoption of lean practices throughout the industry.

Millin explained that construction companies typically adopt drone technology to create:

  • Photographs – Drones can take photographs of a jobsite from any angle. Drones can also be programmed to reuse the same flight pattern to take a photo from the exact same location as before, enhancing site progress tracking. However, photographs are limited and do not lend themselves to scientific measurements. It can be difficult to see a specific area in a photograph as well.
  • Orthomosaic Maps –These maps, created by overlapping several images, allow drone users to look at a bird’s-eye view of a jobsite and then zoom into a high-resolution photo of anywhere on the site. This feature gives users the ability to know where an issue is located specifically on the jobsite. Users can flip through previous maps to see how the jobsite has progressed over time.
  • 3D Models – These models add an additional perspective as the building is erected. Users can see exactly what is happening on the site.
  • CAD Overlays – This feature pulls blueprints, plans and design data and overlays it on top of current images of the jobsite so that users can see how the project’s current state compares to the plan.

Millin pointed out that using drones to collect jobsite data is safer than a walkthrough. The data can improve key workflows throughout the construction process, such as:

  • Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) – Drone data can be used to create point clouds for site surveys. Each pixel within the image has an X, Y and Z value, allowing users to easily identify the location on the jobsite. This data can be integrated with building information modeling (BIM) programs.
  • Project Management – Drones can be used to document site progress, see what was happening at any time during the project, automate reporting and keep stakeholders informed.
  • Site Supervision – Site logistics and materials management can be made more efficient with drone data. General contractors can also use the data to manage subcontractors and monitor construction.