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How AI-powered drone inspection and analytic advancement has paved the way for disruption.
By Maury Margol

Technology regularly improves the efficiency and scalability of an industry. Examples of digitizing pen and paper include books, airline tickets, music, and on the B2B side mapping, photography, printing, etc. We’re witnessing a similar shift to digitization and its power in the tower and roofing industries through drones, automation, combined with machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Drones are increasing in adoption as organizations recognize how they help mitigate labor shortages, increase efficiency, and lessen the tedious “grunt” work that’s involved in your average project. Why do we need to send five different people out to a telecom tower site or a building when we can send one person out with a drone and every constituent can view the digital asset? This allows this same labor to focus on more high value work, complete projects faster, and eliminate repeat site visits if something is added or was missed.

We’ll go into just how much of a difference drones and automation can make in each industry in this article.

Towers

Drones have become the ultimate tool for tower climbers and engineers. Automated drone flights can lessen the time it takes to perform a telecom tower audit from 3-4 hours to less than an hour. One drone pilot can complete the task vs. a crew of two tower climbers. We are seeing  the deployment of drones increasing a crew’s efficiency, providing “boots on the ground” vs. climbing, and a less strenuous environment. Drones are augmenting crews and not replacing them.

For example, as mentioned above, drones can minimize the number of trips made to a tower location for site selection. For example, with a drone image collection and analytics from Pointivo, the engineering team can view many different aspects of the project and answer many questions such as the slope of the site, is there access to the site, what utilities are available and how would they be fed to the site, and is the site in a wetlands or other protected area.

One drone flight can essentially replace three or four site visits, which saves engineers time and shortens the time to complete. Desk time vs. travel time allows engineering firms to complete more work resulting in higher revenues.

Instead of adding or replacing resources during a time where labor shortages are already impacting the industry, drones and automation can be used to fill that gap where tower climbers and engineers have to work twice as hard to compensate for smaller teams and make the same amount of revenue. There is also downward pricing pressure to get projects done for less money.

This new pairing of experienced engineers, climbers, and project managers with automated drones results in a more cost-effective and time-efficient workforce. Drones provide the scale and speed at which the work is completed, allowing your resources to do the more advanced and technical portions of the job that they’re specifically trained for.

Roofing

The impact of supply chain disruptions and labor shortages on the roofing industry has been magnified by the pandemic. Roofers are having a hard time sourcing the necessary materials for reroofing, like fasteners and joints, and the resources to install a new roof when they do.

One of the most efficient solutions for roofers is to utilize drones for roof inspections. Drones help save time and money by identifying maintenance issues and help roofers better estimate what they need for a job, all while keeping boots safely on the ground. Experts and estimators can work at their desk virtually walking a roof online via drone data vs. the time consuming truck roll and walk with a tape measure.

This not only saves time, but money as well. Organizations can feel more confident in ordering the right quantity of materials, organizing job sites with the right equipment, like booms and forklifts, and knowing that their completed project will pass inspections and receive the necessary warranties they need. Roof inspectors can complete a pre and post construction inspection in a fraction of the time by deploying a drone. Inspectors can increase their efficiency, lessen their travel time, and save the company money, while increasing the amount of projects they can bid on.

The same solutions can be applied to other industries with large assets that require significant labor to conduct regular monitoring. For example, oil and gas companies deploy scaffolding, cranes, and riggers, which becomes expensive, time consuming, and involves transportation of the engineers, crews, and equipment. Rather than doing a full rig inspection with one or more resources, you can deploy one drone pilot to fly the rig or plant and virtually walk the plant in 3D.

Working with Experts

As drones, automated reporting, and analytics are being further integrated into the tower, roofing, and oil and gas industries, it’s important to work with experts who have patents, clients, and can scale to meet your needs.

Drones have become more accessible and cost effective, but it is how you interpret the drone data and build analytics and reporting that really adds value. Sifting through a thousand drone images is not much better than physically going on site. In fact, sometimes it can be more work. Picking a provider who uses drones as a data collection device, adds artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify deficiencies, inventories assets, and measures parts of an asset is what makes the solution so much better than tape measures and site visits. It also provides a consistent tool no matter who is flying the drone.

Pointivo offers business solutions that can better serve your business through high-resolution imagery, 3D Digital Twins, and AI-powered analytics. We understand the importance of digitization and have invested in the best drone inspection solutions that’ll bring speed, efficiency, and the ability to increase revenues and take on more work to your organization.

The Digitization of the Tower & Roofing Industry

Want to see how augmenting your resources with drone automation will impact your business?