Drones in Engineering – Faster, Cheaper and Safer

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Some say that the world is run by engineers. It stands to reason, then, that the engineering community would take drone use to the next level – and then some.

We have explored drone use in mining, agriculture, and film – and we can clearly see the benefits that this agile little machine offers.

How have drones been assisting the engineering sector?

In civil engineering, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) – or drone – is perfect for mapping sites before operations begin. And of course, as the project proceeds, it is simple to gain regular site overviews, monitor work progress, and check work quality. Engineers and architects, as well as all the contractors in between, find this information vital.

Aerial photography is one of the most accurate ways of monitoring an engineering project. When you consider the scale – especially in civil engineering – you can understand how a birds-eye view would be an advantage. And of course, a nimble little drone with a high-resolution camera is far quicker – and cheaper – than any other aerial vehicle for this purpose. Daily – or hourly – updates offer as much information as you can process.

Drones enjoy multiple functionality. For example, they can be precisely positioned to photograph a project from the same perspective, altitude and GPS coordinates. These precise images are valuable tools when monitoring the evolution of a project over time.

An example of the highly innovative use of drones can be seen by SkyCatch. Skycatch create powerful aerial tools to capture high quality data to produce what they call “visual intelligence”. This big data results in smarter and faster operations when put to good use. An autonomous drone can be sent out with advanced mapping capabilities to monitor a pre-determined job site. The data collected each day can be translated into 2D and 3D virtual models showing the exact details of the project on a daily basis. Very little human intervention is needed once this precision drone has been programmed, and this data is invaluable to the engineers on the ground.

BP in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, has also been exploring the use of drones. Back in 2012, quadcopters were tipped for use for frequent and accurate pipeline inspections. The drones are able to fly at ground level, and can be equipped with infrared and visual cameras to monitor the pipelines in this inhospitable area. Images of faults or potential problem areas can be sent to the engineers who can then arrange a physical inspection and quicker fix.

Operational efficiency in engineering relies on accurate and comprehensive information. As drone technology continues to evolve, they will surely become a common job site solution. This aerial data makes for increased on-site safety and accurate project planning capabilities, resulting in time and cost savings.

Cutting edge technology requires backup. And CC&A Insurance are proud to be on the cutting edge of commercial drone insurance here in South Africa. Contact one of our knowledgeable brokers today. We will assist you with all your drone insurance requirements – from public liability to payload cover.