Editor’s note: Rod Deere is the CEO of Talon, an infrastructure data capture company. Drones have been widely used in road and tower construction projects for a while, but the use of drones is now making its way into other types of construction jobs. This is a positive development because, when used correctly and with maximum potential, drones can help construction companies operate more efficiently while keeping workers safer and more productive. Rod Dir Before beginning your drone program, the key is to understand exactly how it can improve your process. If you don’t take the time to explore how the drone program can replace existing operations and generate greater efficiencies, you’ll end up with a great game that doesn’t create as much value as it can provide. It is well worth the effort to see how drones can deliver a great return on your investment. One of the most common and effective uses of drones in construction today is to survey sites and take pre-construction photos, which can greatly improve the engineering work of the site. Safety is a major concern for construction companies as well, and you can use a drone to improve safety by remotely scanning sites for hazardous materials and other hazards. Another pain point for builders is the time lost between the completion of work on a particular construction phase and the inspection required so that the project can move forward. With drone imagery and appropriate software, you can conduct inspections in real time, with off-site experts assessing the work and identifying deficiencies so the crew can address them before leaving the site. Builders can use drone footage and a good software platform to index work done against a checklist. The construction crew can upload photos of most any type of work, including plumbing, electrical, and drywall work for the inspector to evaluate instead of waiting hours or even days for an on-site inspection. Drones are also a great way to create marketing and promotional materials, keep customers updated during construction, capture an overview of the project at different stages and make visits to remote locations unnecessary. Automation and Collaboration Drone software can enhance safety and achieve greater efficiency in all the ways described above and more, but for maximum ROI, you need a platform to store images and data collected by drones and enable collaboration between teams. Companies that do not have a robust system for storing, sharing and archiving these images are losing this aspect of the value that drones can bring. Many first-time users of drones fall into this trap. They’ll routinely store the pictures on network drives or in an email, but when they want to go back and access those pictures, there’s no easy way to find them. With the platform, you can organize images in a way that makes your drone program more productive and efficient. You can add labels, for example, surface, foundation, etc., that are indexed so you can do a quick search and find what you need. Organized and indexed data and images on the platform are excellent tools that you can use beyond the immediate needs of a single project. Construction companies can access this material for training, engineering, and other purposes. Even better, with a platform that includes AI and machine learning, you can use the data to automate tasks such as inspections by teaching the program to identify defects such as gaps in the wall, etc., which saves even more time and money. Activate information One of the things to know before starting a drone program is that drones produce a lot of data, and that information belongs to your company. It’s a precious commodity your drone software will produce, and you’ll want to make sure that data is turned into actionable insights that can improve your process rather than being untapped on someone’s hard drive. Drones can collect data and capture images from the field which is incredibly valuable before, during and after a construction project. They can help you save time and money by eliminating unnecessary site visits and speeding up inspections so that electrical and plumbing work is signed off before the drywall is lifted and drywall work is approved before painting begins on the wall. With the proliferation of drone technologies, storing data and providing an efficient way to make data available can be challenging. Data is only valuable if it is easy to display and improve for a useful purpose. Cloud storage platforms such as AWS, IBM, and Microsoft Azure allow team members to access data from multiple sources and provide needed storage. Other companies will store in-house data on the company’s servers, but it can be overwhelmed by the size of the images and open the door to security concerns. However, solution providers such as the two image processing companies can for specific use cases, improve the viewing experience and allow multiple users to collaborate on the same content. The key is to pair technology like drones with a platform that allows you to get the full value of the data you collect. This will enable you to keep workers safer and more productive while improving collaboration and automating essential tasks to increase efficiency.