Drones are playing an increasingly important role in the engineering and construction industry.
With licensed, experienced pilots, organizations can safely and efficiently gather and share data in the cloud. Drones provide the data to create 2D and 3D models that improve decision-making and boost productivity. And these benefits help create lasting value with customers.
Engineering and construction companies aren’t alone when it comes to using drones in the field. Drone technology also is improving data collection for multiple industries including telecommunications and the energy sector including wind and solar farms.
In a recent LinkedIn Live event now available to watch on demand, Burcin Kaplanoglu, vice president, innovation, Oracle Industry Lab, hosts an engaging, one-of-a-kind show-and-tell drone challenge. Four extremely skilled drone pilots—Keaton Denzer of Bechtel Corporation; Antoine Tissier of Clayco; Bryan Prignano of Pepper Construction Group; and Gregg Schkade II of Virtual Technology Simplified (VTS)—maneuver their drones through an obstacle course at the Oracle Industry Lab in Chicago, then share their perspective and best practices of piloting a drone and the data captured during their exercise.
Minus unpredictable weather, the course simulates much of what the four pilots experience in the field while incorporating aspects that span multiple industries. It’s fascinating to not only watch the pilots in action but also to eavesdrop as they deftly move from challenge to challenge:
“Step one, elevate to an altitude of 15 feet, perform a 360-degree clockwise rotation, locate Target A and announce when acquired,” Schkade II says.
While this is more demonstration than competition, it’s clear that each pilot brings a passion for their burgeoning profession. Their talents are sought-after across multiple industries.
“When we began, drone use for us was just trying to prove that it worked,” says Denzer, chief UAV pilot at Bechtel. “Now most people see the benefit. We’ve progressed from where we only had two drones, and now we have an entire fleet to fly daily and weekly surveys for photogrammetry and 360-degree panoramic walkthroughs.”
Wheeling in massive cranes to capture complex mapping and imagery, which often took days if not weeks, is being replaced by drones.
“With a drone we can inspect in an hour or two what used to take days,” Denzer adds.
In the four years that Prignano has been operating drones, it’s gone from flying a job site once a month to weekly inspections. Use cases also have widened, says Prignano, a project manager and drone pilot at Pepper.
“We’re using it for inspections and pulling out contour drawings to see how much dirt needs to be moved,” he says. “It’s also gone from just taking pictures for verification to helping keep people safer on the job.”
Tissier adds that drones play a key role in jobsite safety.
“We like to focus on the safety and quality of what we build,” says Tissier, who oversees drone operation for Clayco. “We don’t have to send people into dangerous places, climbing up a scaffold to check out something that you can now see with a drone.”
Early on, they faced the challenge of getting buy-in from skeptics who didn’t see the potential that drones could bring to their industry. That’s changing as data capture becomes increasingly important and safety remains paramount.
Today, showing has become as important as telling someone how drones improve jobsite productivity and efficiency.
“We have an example of inspecting a roof, and instead of sending someone up on scaffolding or putting them up in a boom lift, we flew a drone around a chimney—similar to today’s drone challenge where we went around a steel structure,” Prignano says. “We show how we can keep people out of harm’s way and it’s safer than the ways we did it before.”
After you watch the LinkedIn Live session, learn more about the digital revolution taking place in construction and engineering. And check out more LinkedIn Live sessions.
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