Implementing Drones on Your Construction Site

Previously we have discussed the benefits of using drones on construction sites.  In 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration made it a bit easier for the construction industry to use unmanned aerial vehicles for commercial use.  Part 107 of the FAA rules sets clear guidelines for using drones for commercial construction purposes or otherwise.  However, Part 107 was created with the construction industry in mind.  So, now that the rules are set, there are some key factors you need to know before incorporating drones into your construction project.

The Laws

Part 107 allows construction companies to use drones without applying for an exception for its basic uses.  However, the rules are still strict.  If you are unaware of all the regulations the FAA has put in place, you could be as risk for penalties.  These rules include maximum weight on drones (55 pounds), staying in sight lines at all times, flying only directly above your project, and only during daytime hours.  These are only a few, you can view more details at the FAA website.  Furthermore, you must register the drone must and the certify the pilot.  Any deviation or violation from these rules and you will find yourself with penalties and a big wrench in your construction plans.

However, companies can apply for an exemption to these rules, but without this there are severe civil penalties and fines.  There are several factors that will come into play when using a drone.  Take location into consideration.  If your project is in a residential area there are more restrictions than if your project is a solar farm or somewhere remote.  In addition to the FAA rules, keep in mind the local and state regulations.  The best policy when including a drone into your construction project is to do your research.  Know the FAA rules, where your site is, and the local laws.

Certified Operator

As mentioned previously, whoever will operate the drone must be certified.  There are a couple options here.  You can have your own trained team to operate the drone or you can partner with a third-party provider.  Since this is still a new technology partnering with a third-party provider may be the most efficient direction to take.  You can make your goals clear, what you want to get out of the drone usage, and the third-party provider can make recommendations and help implement strategy.

Furthermore, the third-party providers will also know the requirements for the local and state laws for your project location.  You may pay a bit more upfront to use a third-party. However, the time saved more than makes up for it.  You will not need to go through the necessary training required to certify your own people/employees.    However, large scale construction companies will develop their own team specifically for drone implementation.

Regardless of going with an in-house or third-party solution, doing your due diligence is key.  If you use your own people, you must be intimately familiar with the FAA and local regulations around drone usage.  If you use third-party you are still responsible for understanding everything the third-party will be doing.

Insurance

The technology may be new, but there is already fierce competition out there for your business.  You have a wide range of drone choices, anywhere from $500 to $5,000.  Buying a drone is an investment.  While Part 107 does not require insurance, insurance for your drone may be a good idea.  The insurance will not only protect your drone, but also in the event your drone causes any damage to property or persons.

Your Own Rules

When implementing drone usage on your construction sites, everyone top to bottom should know about them and the rules set in place.  A good practice is to create company-wide training documents.  Since the technology and its usage is still new there is no set in stone standard for these rules.  A company that has already been using drones for a couple years recommends setting guidelines for how they want to utilize the drones and what data they want to collect.

Having your own rules and guidelines can help avoid common mistakes.  There is always a learning curve when implementing a new technique or technology on a construction site.  Things will not always go perfecting right off the bat.  Having your own easily understandable guidelines companywide ensures everyone knows their role.

Conclusion

The drone industry is growing.  Construction companies that are ready and willing to try something new are positioned to see new benefits and time saving on their projects.  Only just a couple years ago, using drones was so restricted it may not have been worth it to use them.  However, now with the introduction of Part 107 of the FAA rules companies can be approved with a waiver to work at night and fly over people with their drones.  The rules are still strict.  However, by obtaining a special allowances waiver, the time and cost savings are at the fingertips of all construction companies.

 

Original source: https://goo.gl/whEsa3