Recent data from The Civil Quarterly (TCQ), a quarterly research report on the current business health of contractors from Dodge Data & Analytics, revealed that the heavy civil sector has widely adopted many advanced tools and digital processes. For example, more than half of contractors said they used drones and ruggedized tablets. Drones are used in nearly every industry, not just construction. But they are the natural next step in the technological evolution for heavy construction companies, as they offer a cost-effective way to use technology to tackle long-standing needs, such as safely capturing the accurate and robust data needed to make real-time decisions that can make or break a project’s bottom line. In addition to fast and flexible data collection, drones deliver reduced worker costs, enhanced jobsite safety, and faster surveying and con- struction time than traditional data capture techniques. But perhaps more than any other benefit, drones enable the collection of improved and more accurate data without disrupting jobsite operations. There are many opportunities on the modern jobsite where drones are of particular benefit. For example, drones enable heavy construction contractors to capture data from hard-to-reach, potentially hazardous or otherwise inaccessible locations that would be too risky or expen- sive to capture traditionally. Heavy construction contractors need solutions that allow them to le - verage vast amounts of data to make actionable decisions. Here are a few new ways we’re seeing contractors benefit from drones on their commercial projects. More accurately tracking progress throughout construction When it comes to drone data, much of the attention in heavy construc- tion has been quantifying earthwork volumes. This takes the form of pre-bid analysis to ensure correct quantities are known so that optimal designs can be created and efficient haul plans can be implemented. Drones are then used to track earthwork volumes throughout the con- struction process to provide feedback on what has been completed and the amount of work remaining to inform project plans and allow for faster replanning cycles. Processing a drone’s images — known as orthomosaic images — into three-dimensional points on the ground can be combined with three-di- mensional points from other collection sources. Those points can be used in computer-aided design (CAD) to create three-dimensional surfaces, contour lines, surface features, three-dimensional models, site progres- sions documentation, and volumetrics for earthwork calculations. Aworker can capture more data during a 20-minute flight than through a week of traditional terrestrial measuring. For example, the Leica Aibot SX intelligent aerial surveying solution captures a digital data set more efficiently. Additionally, it adds a fully integrated UAV solution into existing Leica Geosystems surveying and engineering workflows.
The Leica Aibot workflow is based on Leica Geosystem’s trusted prod - uct portfolio. It seamlessly integrates with the Leica Infinity software suite to capture, process, merge, store, and analyze data. Leica Aibot skyCAPP is the professional flight execution software supporting all your missions, especially when you need actionable data. Save money and improve safety as a result of better data As a reality capture tool, drones provide the ability to capture an aerial “snapshot” of a project at any time. More data can be captured in a twen - ty-minute flight than during a week of traditional terrestrial measuring. Additionally, because the data set is much denser and richer, it allows for a more detailed analysis and improved accuracy for some applica- tions. One of the unexpected benefits is improved client visualization by showing overall site progress against the design, translating into quicker and more complete decision-making at the project manage- ment level. With the economy rebounding, post-COVID construction projects are commencing rapidly, and material prices are at an all-time high, requir- ing extra attention to optimize the procurement and use of precious and expensive resources. Jobsites are constantly changing, but using a drone’s orthomosaic images, coupled with the derived point clouds, provides a wealth of information of what materials have been put in the ground and what is remaining. This can lead to lean procurement management, ensuring what is needed on site is available when needed and stored in the correct loca- tion. This is particularly important for paving and utility construction, extending the benefits of drones past simply validating the amount of dirt moved. It also enables a team to monitor a jobsite to gather intel for progress reporting and stockpile management. For example, operators can use drones to monitor equipment to ensure it is appropriately utilized and take quick action should they find unsafe or out of compliance condi - tions, further enhancing the job site’s safety.
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