The construction and engineering space has seen widespread adoption of drone technology—perhaps more than any other industry—and for good reason: a well-run drone program can provide value at every step in the building process. Before breaking ground, drones can be used to survey the topography. After construction is underway, additional use cases arise in documenting progress on the project for costing, remote project management, and VDC—and this is just with an off-the-shelf RGB camera. As hardware improves and regulations change, there’s no doubt that construction and engineering firms will find even more ways to improve project efficiency with drones.
With that in mind, it’s never too early to think about how your operation will grow, and how to avoid some of the challenges businesses face when scaling in this industry.
1. Not Using a General Operating Manual
A general operating manual is a document that provides a glossary of every function, piece of equipment, and term; explains roles, responsibilities, and safety protocols; provides policies for pilot training and equipment maintenance; and gives step-by-step instructions to create predictable, safe, standard results time after time.
As we have mentioned before, a good operating manual is an essential part of any UAS operation. Not only will it help you cut down insurance costs, but it will give your clients peace of mind when working with a piece of new technology. Most importantly, it increases efficiency, mitigates risk, and improves the safety of your operations. By following the same procedures every flight, from checking the aircraft for maintenance issues to setting up takeoff and landing areas, you can be sure that a single small oversight won’t jeopardize the future of your business and its ability to grow.
2. Data Overload
To borrow a lesson from our customer POWER Engineers: “Start small but plan to scale.”
Paper or Excel logbooks might work fine for a while, but what happens when you need to share data with a remote manager in a new office, or the Excel file becomes unwieldy—the fate of many huge spreadsheets? With Skyward, you can track all the information about your two most important assets, your pilots and aircraft, in a single place. Having this content alongside flight maps, flight logs, and business documents saves you time, and detangles the process of referencing your ever-growing mountain of data.
3. Not Keeping Good Maintenance Records
Naturally, as your aircraft fly more, or as you launch more aircraft, the cost of maintaining your fleet will increase. Keeping track of your maintenance from the outset is a good way to track these costs and help project what they might be in the future. Not to mention that having these records will help lower your insurance rate and cut costs down the road by anticipating maintenance issues before they arise, which also improves the overall safety of your operations.
4. Inefficient Workflow
This goes back to having a General Operating Manual that lays out all of your procedures for before the launch, during the flight, and after the job is complete. By knowing exactly what a given job will require in terms of human labor, site setup, and data management, you can reduce waste, both in time and resources. For example, by taking the time to check the data your drone collected before leaving the job site, you can avoid having to come back and perform another flight in the event that something went wrong with the data collection. This one simple adjustment, which can be enshrined in your Operating Manual, might spell the difference between an efficient operation and one that goes over budget.
Another benefit of having an Operating Manual is that it makes hiring less inefficient. When the time comes to scale up your business, training pilots will be a more streamlined process. New operators are able to follow a checklist that, if followed, produces results that meet your standards for safety, quality of final product, delivery time, and budget.
5. Finding the Right People, Meeting the Right Clients
If your company serves a large geographical area, it often is simpler to hire pilots in a given location than it is to transport your staff and equipment. By using Skyward’s Pilot Finder, you can hire pilots who meet the standards of your business and have experience working on construction sites, filtering by their areas of expertise, flight hours, certifications, equipment, and insurance coverage. This way, you can grow your pilot contractor network with experienced UAS operators.
It flows the other way too. For pilots or small businesses looking for clients in the construction industry, Pilot Finder is a tool to help you find jobs and market yourself. Even those with free Pilot accounts can choose to publish a profile that showcases what your operation can offer the construction industry.