Advice and Opinion

Local construction industry’s interest in drones intensifies


Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), colloquially known as drones, are finding growing favour within the local construction sector. This mirrors overseas trends that will see the global demand for drones in real estate and construction reach the USD 20 billion mark between 2017 and 2025.

This is according to predictive analysis firm, Research & Markets, which says that worldwide sales of UAV hardware and software will top the 6 million unit mark over the same period. In South Africa, the 2015 final promulgation by the Minister of Transport of new rules regulating the use of remotely-piloted aircraft systems brought welcome clarity and new interest in drones by construction professionals.

“UAVs in construction automate the entire field-to-plan process while boosting accuracy to unheard of degrees,” says Philip Smerkovitz of TeleEye SA. Drones typically slash office-based construction expenses by building actual measurements into visual progress reports that boast survey grade accuracy at the touch of a button.

By advising clients on the most appropriate professional aerial photogrammetry software for their particular construction industry application, TeleEye SA is helping to disrupt local land surveying, construction and infrastructure development for the better.

“The technology is disruptive in that quantity surveyors, for example, can have real-time access to automated, highly-accurate site measurements faster than they’ve ever been able to do them before,” Mr Smerkovitz adds. Mapping tools, specifically, help professionals quickly generate working models, site visualisations and plans.

TeleEye SA can advise construction professionals on UAV site survey solution bundles with sector-specific capabilities. These include DJI’s new enterprise-class drones, Datumate’s DatuFly™ mission planning apps and Datumate software solutions tailored to professional needs in field construction, site surveying and quantity surveying.

Quantity surveyors, developers, foremen and managers are finding that drones outfitted with precision imaging technologies can vastly improve their decision-making skills. However, it’s a challenge to source UAV equipment that goes beyond the amateur hobbyist’s requirements and which also carries local warranties.

Mr Smerkovitz’s firm recently launched South Africa’s first online portal dedicated to the disruptive application of DJI UAVs across key economic sectors that include construction. It is the country’s only DJI Enterprise Dealer of DJI drones, aerial application software and accessories that are customisable for different commercial and industrial applications.

DJI (Dà-Jiāng Innovations Science and Technology Co., Ltd) is a Chinese company and world leading drone manufacturer producing UAVs, gimbals, flight platforms, cameras, propulsion systems, camera stabilisers and flight controllers.

“By expediting surveying, construction and inspections; drones save construction companies field and office hours. This improves productivity, saving costs and helping projects come in on budget,” concludes Mr Smerkovitz.