Drones in Roofing and Construction

September 21, 2017
Bill Wilkins

Pointivo Highlights New Levels of Accuracy and Speed in Roof Measurement at SRWA Conference

Aerial View Hershey Park Pointivo Drone

Aerial view of Hershey Park, captured by the Pointivo drone at SRWA 2017.

Our own Bill Wilkins, Pointivo VP of Customer Innovation, spoke this week at the Sustainable Roofing and Waterproofing Alliance’s Fall Conference. In front of approximately 250 attendees in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Bill outlined the growth in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) usage, noting that use has doubled from 6 percent to 12 percent between 2015 and 2016 alone. The likelihood of involving UAVs in construction projects will jump to 81 percent over the next five years.

Bill Wilkins Pointivo drone uses in construction presentationBill discussed three areas where UAV deployment is growing at a particularly rapid rate. According to a March 2016 report from Goldman Sachs, construction will be the largest use case for commercial drones in the immediate future, generating $11.2 billion of the projected $100 billion in global spending over the next five years.

How Drones are Used in Construction

In construction, drones act as an “eye in the sky,” collecting data such as real-time feeds, images, video, light detection and ranging (LIDAR) and GPS locations. Data collection by drone is faster and safer than traditional methods. Real-time feeds can be used to monitor high-risk operations, check unsafe areas or condemned zones, act as security surveillance to prevent theft or vandalism and improve employee safety, monitor site incidents, inspect roofs after storms and much more.

Drones provide a new way to capture site operations to improve shared insight and communication between office and field crew. Feeds can be captured in image or video form to:

  • Compare aerial images from a site inspection to actual blueprints
  • Allow situation awareness across multiple job sites
  • Minimize time lost to physical tours by showing clients, investors and financers progress by video
  • Conduct asset inspections
  • Verify evacuation routes
  • Create marketing spreads for a company
  • Aid safety training for new field crew members
  • Verify employee productivity and site safety procedures
  • Lower insurance rates and risk by creating routine safety inspections
  • Inspect thermally for defects and cold or hot spots
  • Verify federal, state and local codes are being followed
  • Verify clearance of a crane
  • Capture history before a dilapidation survey

Benefits of 3D Intelligence in Construction

Image and video feeds can be used to create new intelligence such as 3D point clouds, meshes from point clouds, digital terrain and surface models, and 2D orthomosaics that feed the creation of building information modeling (BIM). With this intelligence, you can:

  • Project future views during preconstruction phases
  • Create progress heat maps during construction
  • Verify actual grade vs. design grade of the landscape
  • Show a difference map of as-built vs. as-designed
  • Create measured and scaled models of buildings
  • Detect objects/count assets for inventory such as cranes and excavators

The possibilities and use cases for 3D intelligence grow as drone usage in surveying solutions become more widespread and as sensor technology evolves and declines in price.

In his presentation, Bill offered a range of examples of how 3D intelligence provides nearly identical accuracy to traditional manual measurement, at a fraction of the time. Two of the examples included a residential home where the UAV created a point cloud and 3D wireframe intelligence and a commercial building where the UAV identified rooftop structures, such as AC units, exhaust fans and skylights.

He noted a combined drone and mobile solution achieved 99.89 percent accuracy across a 150,000 square foot warehouse as compared to laser scanning, a preconstruction example, where measurement time was reduced from 2-3 weeks to 1-4 days, and finally, a roofing measurement example, that provided 98.5 percent accuracy and significantly reduced measurement time.

Can UAVs and 3D intelligence impact and improve your business? Contact Pointivo to find out.


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