Heavy/Civil Construction

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Are there any uses for a drone in the heavy/civil construction field (like bridge and sewer work)?
There is not a lot of earth moving. Owners are the state or local municipalities that have their representatives on site so none of these progress videos is relevant. General contractors like to hire professional surveying companies to get rid of the risk that comes with wrong measurements. Most project do not require the number of vehicles to justify keeping track of them with aerial photography.
I can see the estimators using a 3D map before completing a bid or a project manager using one if the project is far away from the office but that is usually not the case and it does not seem worth the investment.
I just do not see a valid and profitable use of drones atm for local heavy/civil companies that do 200k to 20M $ projects.
Am I wrong?
Thanks.
 
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I don't think that representatives on site can replace the benefits of having a weekly or bi-monthly fly through or photos for site updates and documentation. The perspective that a drone gets is much better and the photos can be used if there are ever any issues with sub-contractors, deadlines, materials, etc. Most large projects seem to have a drone component these days, so lots of people are finding value in it. Construction photos can also be used to share progress updates with shareholders, the public, or be used for marketing purposes. For $1,500 and a little bit of training, you can easily get your modest investment back and find benefits on projects such as these.
 
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Like I said, there are no shareholders or marketing purposes. There is an owner representative on the site every day that tracks everything that is being done so the documentation is validated all the time on site. $1500 is just the start, there is also training, software subscription, hardware for processing and man hours. I would like to implement this new tech but I am looking for benefits that would justify that investment and I do not see any for small-medium sized local heavy/civil company. Huge national or international companies is a different story. Any ideas?
 
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Like I said, there are no shareholders or marketing purposes
Well, you didn't actually indicate that in your initial post, but if you can't justify the use of aerial imagery or videos, then it's probably not for you. For under a thousand dollars, you can be up and running. Training and software are extras that aren't completely necessary if you're not collecting anything beyond photos and video. Most people are self taught, use freeware, and produce great products. If you want to move into aerial surveying, then it can become costly, but it doesn't look like you're remotely ready for that.

But, if you don't want to shoot construction documentation photos or video, perform volume calcs for quantity verification, learn how to map, create imagery for self promotion or a website, or any of the other common civil uses, then your right, there's no reason to invest the time or money.
 
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Well, you didn't actually indicate that in your initial post, but if you can't justify the use of aerial imagery or videos, then it's probably not for you. For under a thousand dollars, you can be up and running. Training and software are extras that aren't completely necessary if you're not collecting anything beyond photos and video. Most people are self taught, use freeware, and produce great products. If you want to move into aerial surveying, then it can become costly, but it doesn't look like you're remotely ready for that.

But, if you don't want to shoot construction documentation photos or video, perform volume calcs for quantity verification, learn how to map, create imagery for self promotion or a website, or any of the other common civil uses, then your right, there's no reason to invest the time or money.
Sorry if I didn't explain myself well enough.
A lot of local civil projects are being done by smaller local companies and with US infrastructure crumbling its not a small industry. This is why I thought maybe someone here has some experience and ideas. For those local heavy/civil contractors it seems like this tech is still on the "bells and whistles" side then something practical.
Here is the thing as I see it for now:
shoot construction documentation photos or video -- no shareholders, 2 state representative document everything on site every day.
perform volume calcs for quantity verification -- the superintendent and the state representatives are on the job all day, any type of volume calc is rare. Fixing bridges and sewers does not involve a lot of earth moving.
learn how to map -- project manager gets out of the office and is on the site 2-4 days a week so the only use might be for the estimator before the bid. It seems that google earth and a visit to the location is all they need.
create imagery for self promotion or a website -- all jobs are received through bids with lowest price. There is next to no value in self promotion.
aerial surveying -- takes a lot of skill (I assume) and general contractors hire professionals to avoid risk and responsibility for mistakes.
This is an old industry that does not react to changes very quickly and I would love to add something new to our way of doing things. I just do not see a viable use here. I would love to be corrected.
Thanks
 
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For those local heavy/civil contractors it seems like this tech is still on the "bells and whistles" side then something practical.
You're correct in that UAVs are still in their infancy, but that's what makes it exciting. As a UAV pilot for a DOT, we are constantly finding new applications and testing out ideas in the field. Granted, we have the ability and time to do that, but as a former civil inspector, I know that there is dead time on the jobsite that could be used to research new ideas. For a reasonably cheap cost, you can purchase one and put it to use and come up with new ideas while you're out in the field. For example, maybe you could have aerial imagery taken right after you had your locates done and have a record of where your utilities were located in case someone takes them out. Or, could a thermal camera be used to locate leaks in a system? Again, just some ideas, but you'll have to take that leap and find out for yourself.
 
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You're correct in that UAVs are still in their infancy, but that's what makes it exciting. As a UAV pilot for a DOT, we are constantly finding new applications and testing out ideas in the field. Granted, we have the ability and time to do that, but as a former civil inspector, I know that there is dead time on the jobsite that could be used to research new ideas. For a reasonably cheap cost, you can purchase one and put it to use and come up with new ideas while you're out in the field. For example, maybe you could have aerial imagery taken right after you had your locates done and have a record of where your utilities were located in case someone takes them out. Or, could a thermal camera be used to locate leaks in a system? Again, just some ideas, but you'll have to take that leap and find out for yourself.
Thanks, no shortcuts I guess...
DOT UAV pilot is a very pleasant surprise, when I talked about drone capabilities with DOT engineers they just stared at me. It seems to me like DOT would potentially have a lot of use for a drone. Bridge inspections, periodical 3d maps of the job site for the DOT office personnel that does not visit a job site very often, even pr videos of completed jobs for the public. The big number of jobs allows you to make the most out of a drone department. Could you elaborate on different tasks you found for a drone?
 

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