How drones are changing the way companies and businesses conduct routine maintenance inspections.

As industries and sectors across the US come to terms with changing economic conditions, labor demands, and environmental conditions, the need for quick, scalable, and affordable physical asset maintenance and visual inspection is growing. 

Across Western Massachusetts, our team of FAA Certified drone pilots helps businesses conduct routine maintenance inspections on everything from community water towers to commercial solar arrays, industrial equipment, and even church towers and steeples. This article will look at a couple of industry sectors and outline how drones are revolutionizing the way inspections are carried out and the significant benefits. 

But first, a quick dive into visual inspections, what they are, and why drones have become such a critical component. A visual inspection of a physical asset is just that; a detailed visual ‘once-over’ of the entire structure/s to check for any faults, breakages, or other issues. Most drone inspection companies, Web-tactics included use drones with high-powered HD cameras that act as a second pair of eyes in situations where a drone is needed. 

These cameras offer inspectors the ability to zoom in close on potential faults, record what they see in high-definition quality, and even view the affected area through thermal lenses should the need arise. 

The main benefits of visual Drone Inspections are:

  • Speed – Drones allow inspectors to view a project much faster than if it were to be done manually. 
  • Safety – Drones allow inspectors to remain safely on the ground while the drone is sent into difficult and dangerous situations to perform the inspection. 
  • Affordability – Using a drone to conduct inspections is far more affordable to a business than hiring a team of specially trained inspectors along with specialized equipment. More importantly, removing a hazardous work environment means the potential for injury is also drastically reduced. 
  • Long-term Cost-Saving – Drones allow companies to preempt more costly repairs further down the road by spotting issues and faults early on. 
  • Scalability – For clients requiring visual inspections of large swathes of land or multiple physical structures, drones allow a small team of inspectors to conduct relatively large inspection projects quickly.
  • Data Storage – Drone Videography is easily stored on portable hard drives or Cloud-based services. This stored data allows for more in-depth reviewing off-site, augmenting the spot reviews done occasionally by inspectors. 

Non-Visual Drone Inspections

In specific industries, drones are also used with specialized equipment like thermal heat cameras and crop sensors. These tools allow drones to capture data that would otherwise be difficult to capture if done manually. 

For example, Farmers across the country, already familiar with GPS-guided tractors and other technological advancements, are now using drones fitted with multi-spectral sensors to capture images of their corps in unique spectral bands. This allows them to gauge the overall health of their crop at a glance. Other industries, such as the HVAC sector, use drones fitted with thermal imaging sensors to check where heat is escaping from a finished building or home. This data guides their repair efforts, making the building/home more efficient. 

Drone Inspections by Industry

Real Estate

In the real estate sector, especially the commercial sector, drones make it easier than ever for building owners and their management teams to quickly survey exterior facades, interior crawl spaces, and other hard-to-reach places for damage, rodent infestations, thermal sealing leaks, and more through cutting-edge aerial drone photography and videography.

Construction

Drone construction services extend to job-site monitoring and routine visual inspections of equipment and building structures. What would usually require a team of individuals using specialized equipment can now quickly be done by a few drone operators in a single afternoon. 

Solar Array Inspection

Even the smallest solar farms will have hundreds of panels laid out over a wide area that constantly needs routine maintenance and upkeep. Traditionally done by a team on small vehicles driving up and down the arrays of solar panels, drone solar panel inspection services have changed the industry entirely. Solar farm owners are now able to quickly and affordably survey their entire inventory without much effort. 

Agriculture & Farmland

In states like Massachusetts, where farms can stretch for hundreds of acres, a helicopter used to be the fastest way to survey large stretches of farmland. The risks associated with helicopters notwithstanding, flight time is expensive. Farmers had to choose between surveying only small sections of their property by air or the entire property over several days and weeks by car or truck. Drones are a good middle ground, with farmers now able to survey large sections of their property from a single location at a minimal cost. 

About the Author

Western Mass Drones is a Massachusetts-based drone company offering a range of drone services to local businesses. Owned and run by Janel Jorda, the company has distinguished itself many a year through high-quality drone videography services.

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