As drones are becoming more prevalent and affordable, new applications for their use are being discovered all the time. It’s even becoming more common to see drones being used on construction sites in a variety of ways.

Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), might not be fully autonomous but they are able to quickly and easily go into areas that are inaccessible or perhaps even dangerous for a human.

Drones in construction in Africa

Drones are already being used on construction sites around the world, including closer to home in Africa. The Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development has started using drones to monitor their Phillip Moyo Community Health Centre construction site.

The drone is being used to collect data on the projected 8-month construction delay. This information can be used to identify inefficiencies and find out why the delay happened. This data can help prevent further delays and can even streamline future construction projects.

Marius Hough, the director of operations at Dronezone in South Africa, says African construction firms can benefit in a big way from drones. “Drone technology can be used in a variety of applications around building sites, from the monitoring of progress, to inspections, to security patrols, to delivery of small key items,” he said.

How drones can help on construction sites

Here are just some of the ways that a drone might be useful on a construction project or building site.

Workflow monitoring

A drone can give you a bird’s eye view of how the work on your site progresses. You’ll be able to see where bottlenecks are forming and where delays are being caused by inefficient workflow.

Construction site inspections

Site inspections can be time-consuming and even dangerous at times, depending on the type of construction site. Drones can help you carry out these inspections quicker and with fewer health and safety implications.

Security

Construction site surveillance via cameras is usually static. With a drone, you can survey the entire site in one go or zoom in on different areas as needed. Your security team can also monitor the construction site without getting in the way of operations or placing themselves in danger.

Building surveys

Surveys of newly built or pre-existing buildings usually require roof access, which is not always easily accessible. Instead of using cherry pickers or scaffolding, which would involve health and safety considerations, you can use a drone to do the survey.

Thermal imaging

If fitted with the right type of camera, a drone can take thermal imaging of your entire construction project. This will highlight cold or heat spots, which could point to building defects or electrical issues.

Maintenance inspections

Maintenance inspections for tall buildings, bridges, roofs and scaffolding can easily be carried out by a drone, saving on both time and the risk usually involved in this type of high-level inspection.

Photography and virtual walkthroughs

Drones can be used to take photos and video from multiple high-level angles for both promotional material and updates for investors or shareholders. You can also use a drone to do a virtual walkthrough at any stage of construction.

Things to consider before deploying a drone on your construction site

Drones are essentially aerial vehicles, so you’ll need to find out what regulations the local authorities have in place. For example, construction sites close to airports are likely to have much stricter airspace rules.

You’ll also need to ensure that you hire or train an operator to fly the drone. It takes some practice and experience to manoeuvre a drone through tight spaces. The operator will also need to be aware of distance restrictions, or else risk losing contact with the drone.

What we offer at KH Plant

At KH Plant, we don’t deal in drones or drone technology, but our interests do lie in supporting the construction industry, in South Africa and elsewhere across Sub-Saharan Africa.

We specialise in restoring Caterpillar 140G, 140H and 140K motor graders and components to as-new condition, so you can get the benefits of a new motor grader at a fraction of the cost of a new machine. Contact us for more information or to discuss your needs.

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