AIRGCI Building Inspections Offer Efficiency and Cost Savings

Picture this: Before the workday begins at a construction site, a lightweight, nearly-silent inspection drone skims the outer walls and roof of the building. It quickly documents the potential problem areas with high resolution photos and video. The drone is able to remain stable in crosswinds in order to deliver a steady video feed and can instantly execute hairpin turns with absolute precision.

This is not a vision of the future. GCI Consultants are deploying drone technology right now to help their clients save money, manpower and time.

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Collapsing the Project from Weeks to Minutes

Able to hover in winds up to 22 mph, these inspection drones can quickly scan a building envelope and relay data and video to consultants, both those on the ground and back in the office.

An inspection like this normally might require several weeks of planning, the acquisition of various safety permits, insurance, specialized equipment and a crew on a swing stage. In order to cover the entire face of the building, they would have to investigate one small area of the building at a time before resetting the swing stage to the next section.

This entire process used to be costly, laborious and dangerous. Now, a single individual operating a drone can inspect the same building in a fraction of the time. Drones like these represent just one of the innovative approaches by GCI Consultants. Over the past three decades, GCI has offered consulting for construction sites in nearly every state in the U.S., as well as several international locations. Over that time, they have built up a reputation for bringing innovation to the industry, and drones represent the next stage in that development.

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Safety First, Speed Second

Operators and owners will be able to keep their eyes on several work sites, live streaming data and HD aerial images from virtually any angle. They will be able to keep jobs sites on track and monitor difficult tasks in real time. Consultants will be able to keep tabs on multiple projects in different locations from a smartphone, tablet or laptop. Construction firms will gain the flexibility to scale up and use their capacity more profitably.

Safety will be also improved as drones eliminate many routine but dangerous tasks. This topic is emerging as a serious challenge to the industry as jobs become more complex and projects must run on tighter budgets under accelerated schedules.

After safety, the most obvious advantage is in the reduction of the initial preparatory work preceding the project. That translates as less time for crews and equipment sitting idle. Evaluating job sites, estimating the work needed and performing supportive administrative functions can drain time and money from a company without bringing in any new revenue or business. Essentially, drones collapse the work preparation time and help boost overall productivity.

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Digital Transformation in Construction

In their broad outlook on how innovation is disrupting the construction industry, McKinsey cites discrepancies between estimates and final costs on the ground as a primary concern. This remains one of the biggest sinks where time and money are lost.

The deployment of drones in the initial evaluation and estimation stage can reduce these risks by quickly, inexpensively evaluating the building envelope. The result is a process that is much more efficient, economical and timely.

No one possesses more knowledge of the building envelope than the construction consulting team at GCI. We have specialized experts in everything from windows, doors and wall systems to roofing and waterproofing.

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AIRGCI’s First Flight

In a glimpse of the future, GCI’s first drone for a building inspection took to the skies over Hollywood, Florida, on Nov. 21, 2016. A small, white quadcopter, carrying only a high-tech camera, buzzed over the clay tile roofs of a client’s buildings and returned carrying all the high-resolution visual data necessary to evaluate the condition of each of the roofs.

The drone, aka unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), was christened “Air GCI” and proudly displayed its FAA license number. It demonstrated that it can take off or descend vertically, fly in any direction, maintain stability in 22 mile-per-hour winds and turn on a dime.

In the past, a job like this would take a work crew about four to five days to build the scaffold, examine the roof and write a report. Even then, some areas of the roof would be inaccessible for practical or safety reasons. Finally, a cleanup detail would have to be called to put the building site back to the way it was. Now, a single operator on the ground can fly the shoe-box-sized drone anywhere and view the roof on a tablet or laptop. It collapses the work of a week into a single work day, and the drone operator can move on to the next job.

Paul Beers, founder and CEO of GCI Consultants, said, “We’re proud to be part of this moment. It’s clearly a highly efficient way of doing business and providing clients with an outstanding roof inspection, but it’s also much more than that. This technology is going to make building inspections safer, faster and less expensive.”

Beyond just getting a good view of the roof, the drone can inspect and zoom in on all areas of the building envelope where problems can start, from glazing to cladding to waterproofing work. The video can be stored, shared and retrieved for follow-up investigations.

Beers went on to provide a vision of where this technology is headed for construction firms: “Air GCI inspection drones will allow us to provide needed services, such as annual building inspections at a fraction of the cost. This will be a big benefit for our customers in proactively identifying and correcting issues which will extend the life of their building systems.”

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