How Integrating Drones With BIM Can Improve Your Construction Site

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How Integrating Drones With BIM Can Improve Your Construction Site

BIM revolutionised the construction industry by changing the way buildings were designed and constructed. Since then, BIM is now widely used; according to a report published by the NBS in 2020, over 70% of organisations use BIM to improve coordination of information, better productivity, reduce risk and increase profitability. More recently, drones have revolutionised the industry by changing the way surveys, inspections and progress monitoring were conducted- and now BIM. Drones are leveraged to make data collection easier, provide precise aerial data and automate processes.
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BIM merges 3D designs with data to create models that are visually and spatially accurate representations. The models enable multiple parties to work in tandem with each other by showing everyone involved what is happening at every stage. These characteristics make BIM truly invaluable during both designing and construction.

Before construction begins, BIM helps all of the stakeholders stay on the same page and collaborate effectively and effortlessly; This cuts down the feedback cycle and makes record keeping a breeze. During construction, BIM plays an even more crucial role- the software is adept in catching errors before they become major issues and keep the project on schedule by providing a visual timeline. The software is dependent on rich and accurate data to generate these models, and the data must be updated as the site changes.

Previously, this data was collected tediously through terrestrial laser scanners; this costs the project in efficiency and productivity- directly impacting the projects end profitability and punctuality. This is where drones come in, autonomous, accurate and efficient. Drones provide aerial data that is unrivalled in accuracy and significantly faster in comparison to the previous methods. By integrating drones with BIM, we can further boost the efficiency and productivity of construction sites.

To find out more, we turned to our resident expert and CEO- Rabih Bu Rashid. Here's what he had to say.

Role of Drones in BIM

How can Drone Technology be leveraged to improve BIM output?

Organisations can leverage drones in four major ways to improve BIM output; they help with-
  • Easy Data Collection
    • The point cloud that drones generate is very dense, and that leads to highly detailed and precise 3D models
    • When a LiDAR sensor is used, this precision is further amplified, giving you incredible 3D models
  • Aerial Data
    • Record-keeping is a tedious job that only gets worse when you need to do it via ground-level data and images.
    • Drones make this tedious job easy by giving an aerial view and making the collecting part easier. Just have the drone do it!
    • You can further minimise the amount of work needed by analysing the high-resolution imagery to determine the object's characteristics
    • Finally, you can pull measurements straight from these images instantaneously. This drastically decreases the amount of time record-keeping could take
  • Controllable and easily repeatable with high accuracy
    • Consistency is critical. Using drones, you can capture the side in the exact same manner every time- this ensures data integrity over periods of time
  • Integrate Drone Data into existing cloud infrastructure
    • Drone data can easily be integrated into any cloud infrastructure. It enables you to collaborate seamlessly and create a system where the data smoothly flows into the BIM software

Could you give us an example of just how fast drones are? How much of a boost to efficiency can we expect?

  • To start with, you require much less manpower when compared to the traditional methods, and capturing topographic data with drones is up to five times faster.
  • You ultimately deliver your results faster and at a lower cost
  • How efficient, you ask?
    • Reduced process and analysis times
    • Less risk and consequently lower costs 
    • More precise digital data to allow for more accurate readings
    • Easy accessibility via cloud-based integration
    • More seamless jobsite progress monitoring

Drone conducted surveys yields a lot more data. Why is more data better? Is there a quality vs quantity relationship here?

  • 1 km2 of drone data contains more than 44 million points, while terrestrial surveying contains only a few thousand or even a few hundred
    • You no longer have to depend on interpolation between points to calculate large areas
    • You have the precise data of exactly what you need with little to no error
  • While we are trained to think that higher quantity is inversely proportional to quality, this is not the case with drone data. Drones are consistent while capturing, and we take special steps to ensure optimal accuracy is achieved

How do drones provide really high precision with little to no error?

This is achieved in part by the drone's characteristics and by our own best practices that we follow without fail:
  • The Data collected by drones is geo-tagged from the moment of capture, essentially anchoring the data to a location in the real world
  • Some drones also come enabled with true RTK or Real-time Kinematic- it enhances the precision of geospatial data allowing you to calculate the relative position to within millimetres
  • We also carefully plan our flights according to the GSD we want to achieve. This way, we keep both speed and accuracy in mind
  • We also ensure to keep some overlap between images to provide optimal coverage. Something I learnt early on is that you can remove extra information, but you cannot create something new from nothing.
  • Finally, we also use GCPs. This not only improves the project's absolute accuracy but also ensures high relative accuracy

What can drones offer during the operational phase of the construction site?

  • Monitor and follow the construction site as it progresses
    • This helps track the real-world progress and match that to the projected schedule
    • This data can be integrated into BIM collaboration platforms where different parties can also access this data
  • Share a series of aerial shots and high-definition videos in real-time, enabling you to have complete control of the site without actually being on-site
  • Monitor the movement of workers and moving vehicles. You can ensure that Health and Safety standards are being followed and prevent accidents. 
  • It also enables different contractors to work alongside one another with minimal interference

Drones Improving Construction Sites and Empowering BIM

Drones give you actionable data in real-time- Enabling you with Aerial data, Cloud Reporting, Time Preservation and Full Historical Data. Using this, organisations can ensure that the project completes on schedule and within budget. Integrating Drone data into BIM is just one step away and almost effortless. The combination of BIM and Drone Data streamlines the construction process and improves the design of buildings. For more information about integrating Drones with BIM, contact FEDS today. We can set you up with a free demo to witness the benefits it can bring to your next construction project.
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Niiveth Mani

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