Drones have become such a part of the Australian landscape of late that they’re even considered a play-thing for gadget lovers and home hobbyists. In the construction and demolition landscapes, drones are now an integral part of operation for many of Australia’s industry leaders. From aerial photography and surveying to estimating costs and calculating measurements, drones are more than worth their weight in gold for operators in terms of saved costs and increased efficiency. However, another element of drone application is making them increasingly indispensable to the construction and demolition sectors: Safety.
Although drones have been used for years to film demolition projects (you can simply search YouTube for hundreds of titillating destruction videos), their use beyond this application within the demolition field specifically has been limited. However, it’s only a matter of time until drones are being put to much greater use throughout the demolition process.
Safety is, of course, one of the most pressing concerns (and challenges) facing the demolition industry. Identifying and mitigating hazards within the inherently dangerous demolition process will be some of drone technology’s most important applications over coming years, as the technology develops, and the sector begins to introduce drones into everyday operations. Hazards that pose a threat to demolition operations include changes to buildings which have gone unrecorded, such as:
– Modifications to building design during construction
– Modifications to buildings after construction
– Hidden materials (asbestos, for example) within buildings
– Variances in material strengths throughout the building
Not only are drones – with the proper software development – able to capture and measure these kinds of factors before the demolition of a building in great detail, they can also assess risk and predict possible hazardous scenarios before they occur. The creation of 3D models and even thermal imaging from drone footage allows operators to have a real-time perspective on the risks associated with a building’s demolition and can allow for much safer demolition projects. The ease and speed with which drones can capture this information also means huge savings in terms of time and labour costs as well as mitigated hazards. The minimal intrusion that drones cause is also a key benefit of drones over the traditional use of light aircraft and helicopters to survey and inspect demolition sites, not to mention their ability to operate in below-optimal weather conditions. Not only is this more cost effective, but it means less delays in the surveying process. Furthermore, drone footage creates more detailed record keeping, thus discouraging the cutting of corners, and encouraging works to be carried out to the highest standard while meeting all health and safety guidelines.
Finally, better record keeping not only acts as a deterrent to cost-cutting and corner-cutting measures but can also play a key role in the development of health and safety best practice within the industry. Beyond simply reducing the incidences of injury and accidents on a work site, drone footage and record keeping can help us to understand what went wrong in the event of an accident, and thus develop better policies for preventing injury and accidents in the future.
The significant role that drones play in health and safety can’t be overstated and without a doubt, drones will continue to play a key role in the demolition process; their applications will only increase as the technology develops.