GCI Consultants Deploys Drones for Safer, Smarter Consulting in the Construction Industry
“Air GCI has received its operating certificate from the FAA and is beginning flights….”
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.
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.
Protecting a $13 Trillion Investment
This kind of technology couldn’t come at a better time. A McKinsey report on construction productivity estimated that investment in large-scale capital projects are on track to hit $13 trillion by 2030. Builders are under pressure to do more with less and do it faster. Advances like the implementation of drones on the work site will be essential in meeting those goals.
The construction industry has been slower than some related industries, such as logistics and manufacturing, to capitalize on the benefits of digitization and automation. One of the main reasons for this is that, in construction, there is often no substitute for the intelligent operation of heavy machinery by a human operator.
Safety regulations and other considerations often mandate the terms of the job site, making it even more challenging to innovate. But while some tasks will probably always require a human worker, the implementation of new technology such as drones are delivering the advantages of the fourth technological revolution to the construction industry. Job sites of the future will look leaner, work smarter, operate more efficiently and reduce the risk of accidents.
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.
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.
To learn more about this and other innovations in construction, visit the GCI Consultants website at www.gciconsultants.com or catch the latest update at GCI’s podcast forum, Everything Building Envelope at www.everythingbuildingenvelope.com