close-up surveillance of even the tallest and most inaccessible structures as well as of confined internal spaces including as larges tanks, warehouses, roof spaces, boilers and cellars, where they can be used to pick up on minute yet highly important details including corrosion and cracking. The latest advances in collision-resistant and collision-tolerable UAVs also enable them to ‘bounce’ off surfaces and roll along walls without getting damaged or damaging the structure, meaning they can cope with the challenges of demanding environments. Saving valuable resources, drone use

also enables condition assessment of an entire site at a fraction of the time, even in challenging weather conditions. The end product is a total inspection solution that delivers a complete overview of a building’s infrastructure whilst meeting all relevant regulatory requirements. What’s more, UAVs have greatly enhanced the arsenal of techniques and documentation now at the disposal of many safety teams by allowing them to get up close, look at the structure from different angles and gather a variety of footage including high definition video, photographic and thermographic imagery. In terms of building condition assessment,

drone deployment is ideal as an efficient method of monitoring the construction progress and creating a record of data for the future. As well as efficiently conducting a visual assessment, drones can also collect three-dimensional information that can be integrated with existing building information modelling (BIM) systems and original design CAD to offer another layer of advantage for the customer. The use of drones is estimated to have a

significant impact on the construction and manufacturing industries as a whole, with an estimated £8.6bn GPD uplift in the UK alone by 2030 3

. There is also the efficiency factor, with an estimation that site surveys can be up to 400 times quicker using drones, compared to traditional, labour-

intensive surveying4 .

Using drones for select activities can also reduce risk, enhance safety performance and free up staff to focus on value-added rather than labour intensive activities. According to latest figures, contractors in

the construction industry are also increas- ingly using state-of-the-art technology such as drones, laser scanning and wearable devices such as smart helmets to enhance safety, with a staggering 82% reporting a marked improvement in workplace safety. This figure is expected to grow exponen- tially in the coming years as such devices become a part of everyday working prac- tices5

Industry adoption

Despite the potential drones offer in terms of improving accessibility and efficiency, many sectors have been slow to adopt the use of drones in inspections and surveying, mainly down to a misconception that it is still a relatively new technology with an unproven track record compared to other tried and tested methods.

drones, Bureau Veritas is currently targeting industries such as the construction and manufacturing, automotive and quarry management sectors, where the use of drones is expected to revolutionise the inspection process. Through a recent partnership with Sky-Futures, one of the world’s leading provider of drone-based inspections services, Bureau Veritas is able to utilise the latest advances in collision-resistant and collision- tolerable drones. This new approach, which is now available in the UK and Europe, allows greater access to restricted or awkward areas that would have previously only been possible through the use of MEWP’s, scaffolding and in some cases weather-dependent light aircrafts or helicopters. Proving its credentials,

Others meanwhile believe the pro-

cess is too complex, involving many risks such as complying with the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) strict airspace restric- tions. In reality, whilst the initial set up can indeed be complicated, certification and inspection specialists have the expert skills and knowledge, underpinned by a clear and concise system, in place that advises clients of some of the working conditions required to operate drone inspections – making the whole process seamless and easy to imple- ment. This includes all required registrations with the CAA to ensure everything is done properly, legally and is commercially viable. An approved partner can also ensure the full control of the working area to ensure no employees, equipment or infrastructure is put at risk through the deployment of blended inspection, such as cranes will be working or operating at the time of the inspection. Another important factor to consider

is radio interference, where nearby Wi-Fi routers and phone network towers using a similar frequency as the drone can interfere with its signal. However, this can be addressed by carrying out a thorough spectrum analysis prior to flight, which again would be covered by an approved partner.

Transforming inspection

In a bid to raise awareness and dispel some of the misconceptions around using

during a recent inspection of multinational customer operating a large manufacturing site in the UK, Bureau Veritas’s blended inspection offering was able to provide huge benefits

including drastically aiding quality control by aerially inspecting key areas such as the manufacturing line and the roof. While traditionally this would have involved the slow and costly process of setting up scaffolding, using drones meant the roof could be examined quickly and hassle-free whilst the inspections were taking place inside. The result was that an inspection that

would have typically taken many days and required production to shut down took less than one day of work and was completed in normal running conditions – meaning a significant efficiency saving for the customer. This is just one example of the tangible

benefits drones can offer, as further advances in technology will result in easier to deploy UAVs, with longer flight times and better cameras capable of enhanced data acquisition and repeatable automated flight routes. What is clear when it comes to embracing

drones, is that early adoption is crucial as this blended approach to inspection will no doubt become more common place. The use of drones presents a myriad of opportunities to make the process of testing and inspection much safer, better and faster, especially for companies looking to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to best practice and retain that all-important competitive edge.

1 * ‘Multi-factor’ productivity measures the efficiency of the economy at producing output, by gauging output against input (based on an approximation) (p11) 2 (p2) 3 (p3) 4 (p15) 5 Safety Management in the Construction Industry 2017, SmartMarket Report

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