Drone technology is being embraced by multiple industries, as they discover the benefits it can bring when undertaking surveys

The construction industry is one sector that is starting to realise that digital or reality capture information is becoming an essential part of conducting business because of the many benefits drone technology brings.

Construction firms are starting to embrace change, technology and new construction methods to increase their margins and deliver a superior product and service to the end client. They are starting to embrace new digital technologies such as drones, BIM, data analytics, and offsite manufacturing.

ProDroneWorx were engaged by Baytree and Readie Construction to produce regular survey grade accurate 2D/3D digital or reality capture outputs for the entire length of the project using drone technology on one of their prime developments, a new 250,000 plus sq. ft logistics building in Dunstable, close to the M1, Junction 11A.

The digital/reality capture outputs (3D Point Cloud/Textured Model, Digital Surface Model (DSM), 2D Orthomosaic, Google KMZ) created using drone technology and photogrammetry enabled both the developer and the contractor improve the digital management of this large 15-acre asset, provided deeper data insights, better collaboration on the project, improved data deliverables to clients while reducing costs and risks.

A digital twin of this project was regularly created to keep pace with changes onsite and used as follows:

  • Helped surveyors, designers, project managers and senior management understand progress related to the design models
  • Managed earthworks with cut and fill volumetric measurements
  • Enabled progress monitoring of the project at all stages of the build and against the design models and progress month to month
  • Quality assurance checks of the steel frame construction and integration of the high-resolution imagery into BIM.
  • Evidence regarding the amount of work carried out
  • Outputs were used within Virtual Reality (VR) and combined with BIM.
  • 2D/3D reality capture outputs were integrated into existing workflow processes as the data was produced in various CAD,BIM and GIS formats e.g. dwg, dxf, xyz, las, laz, obj and e57

Survey grade accurate 3D point clouds were created on this large 15-acre project of all areas, objects and structures using photogrammetry within two days of flying. The point cloud produced from a drone with contained over 100m points across the entire site with accuracies of less than 5cm and these were verified using check points. The models were imported into BIM or CAD software so that comparisons could be made against the design models and between time periods to track progress and ensuring the build was on schedule. The data was also used to closely manage earthworks onsite, cut and fill volumetric calculations were carried out from the point cloud data.

The single high resolution orthomosaics that were produced were orthorectified so measurements could be taken from them, they were also tied into the OS grid using ground control points for global accuracy. CAD models were overlaid on the orthomosaics in the project design phase to understand and plan the orientation of buildings, road, footpaths, services, etc. It gave the user unique insights into the site and its surrounding area while also allowing the onsite and offsite teams to check project progress against design drawings.

Readie Construction said: “The digital information produced by drone technology changed the way we managed this project; saving us both time and money. In just two days of the drone flight the 2D and 3D digital outputs were ready for analysis; which (due to the size of the project) would not always be possible using traditional methods. We were then able to use the data in our regular team meetings with contactors and to provide our client with progress on the project. Drone technology is the future of construction!”

Baytree added: “As a pan-European warehouse development business, we are committed to pushing forward with an emerging technology platform to provide discernible benefits for our investors and building users. We are convinced that consistent deployment of innovative digital solutions will open new opportunities for Baytree and our design, construction and asset management partners.”

ProDroneWorx provides mapping, inspection, modelling and surveying services to the Construction, Infrastructure and Asset Inspection industries using a combination of aerial technology and 3D terrestrial laser scanning.