Construction site drones and 15% material savings

An article in Fortune magazine (September 15, 2016) titled “A Drone for every Job Site”, claims that 15% of materials delivered to construction sires end up in landfills because schedules are not synchronized or purchasing issues. Thus, with  $1.13 trillion in US construction spend, the waste is estimated to be $160 billion. The article claims that drone data from job sites, integrated with structural models, will enable better synchronization of purchases with needs. What coordination models can be expected to emerge to realize these savings?  Will builders cut their cost estimates to expect these savings and thus force their adoption?  Will the added information regarding worker productivity, from camera data, impact cost estimates or will it change worker behavior?

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50 Responses to Construction site drones and 15% material savings

  1. Li Yize says:

    The coordination method should sharing delivery information to both parts immediately.
    Simply cut the cost will not force the adoption. Related management and process update should also be covered at the same time. Also, it is better to lower the cost gradually to push the adoption smoothly.
    More data of workers will help company re-calculate cost and other operation spending, and the new cost will influence employees’ behavior. Because, workers will find a new way to adapt the lower cost environment according to the corresponding management improvement or process updates.
    The most important aspect is that any new changes will bring risks and the corresponding management improvement or process updates will be the backups for any new changes.

  2. Hee-kyoung Han says:

    Different from my first guess of using drones to deliver materials, it is an interesting idea to use drones to collect and analyze on-site information to reduce any wastes as well as to save cost. My opinion is a little pessimistic to utilize drones in construction sites because it is usually extremely hard to standardize data in construction projects. For example, even when building two same chemical plants, the situations causing delays in material installation can be totally different according to drawing changes in different stages, specific requirements by the owner, rules and regulations of the construction site, and so on.
    In order to utilize the information collected by drones, in my opinion, builders should clearly define individual tasks done in entire construction process and share the definition with drone operating companies to help them deliver “right” information. (Builders may begin with very basic tasks and see if the strategy works.) Otherwise, the massive amount of data will only cause another inefficiencies in the project. Sharing profits from cost savings might be a good motivation for information providers.
    If I were a person in charge of cost estimation, I would not apply this anticipated savings in project cost forecasting because it is too risky. However, to force related departments to adopt this new strategy, I might reduce their budget and keep the savings as a contingency.

  3. Ryan Ma says:

    Autodesk and Skycatch are proving to be the leaders in this emerging market. With Autodesk’s investment in Skycatch, it may be the the first mover in the market. We will definitely see the advancements in this area of drones for the construction industry as time passes. Being the first mover definitely has its advantages of receiving the most publicity and sticking to people’s minds. Especially with the rise of 5g, data processing can happen remotely. While the drone feeds data into a computer offsite that is able to analyze the amount of sand and gravel needed along with other topographical needs. With lower latency for the data connection, more data can be processed wirelessly over the air. As the infrastructure for the connection gets better, we can see rapid improvements in the range of the drone.

  4. haocai1227 says:

    Waste is 15% of the total purchasing cost, this is a huge number without doubt. In order to fix this problem, innovative technology must be developed and used.
    This coordination model will be widely used in the future, but till now, this is still a technology with risk. Anyway, builders can try to use it without cut down the whole budget, instead, the whole budget can be divided to the fixed and variable cost, if the materials are not enough to carry on the whole construction, then they are allowed to apply for the variable part of budget.
    Speaking of workers’ behavior, the drones can also be used for monitoring, builders can examine the video shot by drones and do irregular spot test,
    All cut-down-cost change need test and adjustment, I believe with some trials, this coordination model will become mature and widely-use eventully and the process of test is worthy.

  5. Hsing Chiao says:

    15% of materials delivered to construction sires end up in landfills because schedules are not synchronized or purchasing issues. This means that the information transmission between both sides are severely low efficiency. In my opinion, coordination models would surly have better synchronization of purchases with needs. And the models must include sharing and distributing information. Moreover, with the added information from camera data, I believe it would change worker behavior to become more prudent. However, there are always two sides to every story. Nobody would like to be monitored while working… Anyway, if it is used in a good way, the camera data can tell where the builder needs to do to make the whole building plan become more efficient and productive.

  6. Shane Bryant says:

    In my opinion, and with little knowledge in this industry, I see two issues that are worth noting. First, I find the drone incapable at analyzing KPIs or other building measures once the initial construction has taken place. Like mentioned in an earlier comment, construction isn’t necessarily standardized especially when bringing in different geographical construction sites (may be different time planning fences when considering construction in the Midwest in winter and the Southeast in the winter). Second, I don’t see this changing worker behavior. The mere presence of an item watching you doesn’t increase efficiency. In total, I believe there will always be inefficiencies in worker’s behavior but I see drones providing minimal assistance in reducing the scheduling disconnect which could be worth justifying the decision to implement these on all sites.

  7. Archit Bimal Shah says:

    Even small percentage savings in inventory can translate to billions of dollars in the construction industry. The drone utilization in this industry will be effective if its able to analyze data and not just dump data on engineers who already have tight deadlines to meet, thus the drone and software technology providers need to understand what data and meaning is important to the engineers for it to be helpful to be able to make decisions without much analysis on customer side. Looking at the competition we can expect builders to push contractors to work more efficiently using new technologies and for construction companies to be competitive and remain in business, they need to adopt the technologies which will make them efficient and save billions of dollars. The added data on stock, workers, will give a clear insight on productivity and efficiency, and thus will change the worker’s behavior, and they will tend to perform the job more efficiently, but we can expect demanded wages to go up, considering potential savings overall.

  8. Jilan Liu says:

    The first thing came across my mind after reading the blog and the original article is that, how will these drones collect data and how will them be operated in the construction sites? If the drone is used to oversee the construction site by merely taking pictures or doing simple data collection, it can just help to monitor the material waste and construction progress. What the business really needs is the analysis done beyond surface. Using drones might change the worker’s behavior to some extends, but it may not have a direct impact to the productivity in the construction work.

    The 15% of the material saving will not necessary lead to 15% of cost savings. The cost of operating drones with high capability might outweigh the cost savings in materials. The procurement of high-quality drones with the capabilities of what construction site needs would not be a simple task since you might need to spend time to invest and develop the specific type of drone for the construction site’s need. Overall, I think using construction site drones might not be implementable at this stage.

  9. Aanchal Narula says:

    Drones are actively being used by construction companies to monitor job sites for project management, tracking real-time progress and improving safety by reducing the need to put boots on the ground in dangerous areas. But using drones for materials management at the sites would require more work than just getting pictures or videos from drones. To some extent the videos might help with tracking quantities but due to my limited knowledge on the functionalities of drones, I am not sure how accurately material quantities could be tracked but it could definitely help monitor usage and wastage of materials and improve procurement decisions to some extent. If drones are capable of providing accurate tracking, in my opinion considering the additional benefits, it could be adopted. With respect to worker productivity, it would definitely help push contractors/workers to work more efficiently and help the business improve billing accuracy. It also helps workers by reducing rework as more on-site monitoring helps catch mistakes before they become bigger. Ultimately, the cost trade-offs will decide if the overall savings with respect to the wastage as well as all the other benefits of drones make up for the investment in this new technology!

  10. Lakshman Rajagopal says:

    As many others have pointed out, merely imaging and scanning a construction site might not lead to the type of savings that construction companies would like. Presenting the data obtained into actionable intelligence that also holds up to the constraints of the real world would be key. The drone tech and its applications are not at a stage where construction managers can take advantage of them immediately. Testing out basic use cases and developing from there, while causing time and money, would be the way to go. An agreement with companies who operate the drones based on incentive based contracts would serve better rather than full scale adoption at the onset.

    Furthermore, purchasing issues or delivery mismatches will not disappear with just the 3d modelling of the construction site. A coordination model which enables proper data sharing and management between the companies, analysts working with drones, and the suppliers would be essential to cutting wastage. As the tech infrastructure is not ready yet for a full scale adoption, a more gradual approach would be necessary.

  11. Abhishek Chokshi says:

    With drones in the play, the cost prediction will change completely. As discussed in class, the Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) model can be used with drones in the picture. The drones owned by the vendors can use the data collected to check for the need in any particular material, and re-stock the same if required. With such a partnership with the vendors, the Builders can save the waste of materials that is mentioned as well as reduce the inventory holding costs. Such contracts are a win-win for both the vendors as well as the Builders. If this concept can be put into practice, the builders should reduce the cost estimates and increase savings. The added information gathered from the drones, like worker efficiency can help the builders make better estimates regarding the requirement of workforce. However, with a constant monitoring using drones, the worker behavior is bound to change. The increased efficiency of the work force comes with a trade off in higher stress amongst the workers with a fear of constant surveillance from their managers.

  12. Dan Sun says:

    This case reminds me of Internet of Things (IOT). Nowadays, data and technology are popular in supply chain management. In my opinion, using drones is similar to using sensors in some of the manufacturing factories and they collect data without human interactions. In this manner, data can be transferred to the manager and customers immediately. From the saving perspective, I would say that technologies that make synchronization happen definitely is a trend. However, the prior investment must be seriously considered by the decision makers. Also, using drones may be one of the ways to supervise workers, but if this is against some of the privacy rules would be under consideration. Sometimes, it is not the problem of supervision, it is the problem of incentive mechanism for changing workers’ behaviors.

  13. Abhilasha Satpathy says:

    Construction projects, in general terms are more complex in nature. They vary in each project. On doing a fish bone analysis, we can see how many different factors affect these and how each factor has a different weightage in each scenario. Many factors such as temperature and climate, distance and availability of resources, outsourcing of certain parts of the project, type quality and grade of materials used, constructions techniques applied, types and quality of equipment used, willingness of the stakeholders to spend, these are just some of the factors of the top of my head and there are many more. In each case, these vary. Also, the weightage of each factor may be different. In California, setting concrete at sub-zero temperature is not a big issue, hence the project schedule can be more flexible, hence the general costs in terms of this factor might be very different from construction project in mid-west, where setting of concrete in sub-zero temperatures is a major issue. Hence, is it not possible at this point in time to be able to put drones to analyze from historical data and deliver products. What however is possible at this point in time is, using drones as and when requirement arrives, so as to have a better handle of delivery times. Even if the projects will be different, the project managers working on a project and seeing the development and flow of the project can still have a good estimate of when the building materials are required. So from my perspective, the cost savings can come from delivery streamlining at this point. Talking about worker behaviour, the use of cameras can to some extent be used assess the idle time. This however shall have to be viewed by a human at this point in time, to use it to address worker behaviour. At this point the drone technology is probably not advanced enough to check worker behaviour and give recommendations to increase efficiency by itself.

  14. da0331 says:

    The coordination model may be periodic drone check up on the construction progress in comparison with construction site’s reported material usage to avoid the miscalculation of simply doing assumption with drone sent back construction progress images.
    I believe builders may not cut as much cost as expected at least in the beginning of adopting to this new coordination model, before it runs maturely and smoothly, more mistakes may occur, as well as the human work that may be required to do real-time tracking of material usage in sync with drone’s progress feedback.
    Data should be feedback at same progress timing of drone and material usage from construction site worker to avoid apple to orange comparison which ends up in over or under-stock of construction material, as delay in construction may result in significant loss as well.
    Careful pilot run should be done with error rate measured before it’s implemented.

  15. Debashis Tarafder says:

    As the profit margin is getting reduced in construction industry with increasing competition, 15% cost saving is a huge value addition to the industry. Now we can look into some use cases to understand how the data collected by a drone can help achieve this goal of cost saving. Drone data can help in two ways such as it can provide the real time monitoring and guidance to the current project and secondly the historical data collected by the drone can help increase the efficiency of future projects. Many times waste in a construction project is generated by reworks. If any deviation from the design takes place and the deviation is identified at the later stage, a part of the construction structure might have to be demolished and reconstructed, generating a huge amount of waste of material, time and money. These situations can be avoided by real time monitoring.

    Builders would definitely adopt a more conservative approach to cost estimation and they would be able to offer better prices to the customers in order to achieve competitive advantages. And this would be a clear incentive for the adoption of drone technology.

    Worker’s inefficiency is an another source of waste in construction projects. Drone data will definitely help to identify those inefficiencies and help to train the workers better. Drone data can be used to prepare specific training materials to improve the efficiencies of individual workers. Therefore, it is evident that the worker behavior would change if the workers become more skilled and more confident about their jobs.

  16. Ke Wan says:

    There is no doube that use drones can save 15% of material cost. However, I will doubt the cost that each construction company pay for the drones operations system will significant higher than how much they saved from material waste, as the saving of $160 billion is focus on the industry. As ordinary drones could no directly used for construction stiuation, extra cost of equipment or operating system development could bringing a heavy load of cost for construction company.
    Besides, the more drones that construction companys decided to uses, the more worker resource they will waste. A large amount of idel labor could increase those extra cost.

  17. Siddharth Sourabh says:

    Construction has always been a labour intensive business and a lot of the work has depended upon required personnel/teams inspecting or visiting the real site. All the quality inspections and safety inspections are done by visiting the site. All the civil inspections, architectural and topographic inspections involve the qualified personnel visiting the site physically. One of the major advantages associated with drones in this field is the expedition of all the auxiliary process and of the main construction itself. With all the data, leads and patterns that drones can help generate, several teams can collaborate on a construction site virtually, many of the inspections can be aided by the visual data as well as the quantitative data generated by the drones and the inventory/materials can be better tracked, down to hourly basis.

  18. Srijan Saurabh says:

    Drones are now an edge device. Drones are not only used in photography or as a toy as it had been in the past, but industries have also adopted drones for their functionality. Journalism, agriculture, construction, mining have started utilizing drones in gathering valuable data. With $ 45.2 Bn markets just in Infrastructure usage of drones as video analytics, monitoring, surveillance device have surely grown. Machine learning and artificial intelligence have developed a cost-effective, and viable way to optimize our processes using drones in their IoT device. In one use case, Aerial maps produced by drones were used to help a mining company in Canada evaluate the lifespan of mining waste to developing a plan for expanding the sites where they store waste. Read the news here:
    The vast data gathered now are helping industries become smarter in their decisions. In this case, the construction industry, with the use of drones, could utilize analytics to detect faults, prevent accidents, monitor work. The drones could also be used as a life-saving tool to go into places where it’s hazardous for humans to go, and bring in very critical information. One such application is the use of drones in Oil rigs to check for damages on pipes.
    All of these advancements push the industries to move towards the efficient frontier. When current technology is optimized, innovation follows.

  19. Yu-Ting Hung says:

    The use of drones in the construction industry is an emerging and potential market, not only because it is cheaper than manned aircraft, but also because it can continuously collect more data. More accurate information helps builders increase efficiency, reduce failures and limit delays. But for workers, they are not willing to be monitored anytime, anywhere. In the past, their productivity did not affect their wages, but things changed as technology advanced. In my opinion, builders will adopt this new technology and follow this trend, which will affect cost estimates and change workers’ behavior in a good way While this may involve private issues, we should now consider countermeasures to prevent violations of the law before we use it extensively.

  20. The article suggests efficiency problem is the result of mismanaged scheduling and purchasing & estimate $160 billion in waste.
    With that kind of scale, small gains in efficiency can translate to billions in savings for the construction industry
    Identifying strategic activities and potential delays while ensuring the timeliness of all work & Integrating coordination are the most important steps in construction
    The first step is to assess the current process across the supply chain in order to detect actual waste and problems. The article claim that drone data will help to synchronize the supply with demand, but the last thing you need on a construction project is more data that you don’t have time to process.”
    Drone data on worker productivity will help to understand the pace of work & efficient use of available workforce. Will also help to track the site’s progress with a degree of accuracy. But again, using drone data for waste reduction will be a time-consuming activity & will require skilled labor.
    How the methodology of SCM can contribute to the understanding of construction supply chain problems, and in giving direction to improvement efforts. The bottom-line is the effective resolution of interdependency-caused issues in the construction supply chain, including basic problems and their control.
    Better project management is always a basic foundation for any construction. Instead of going for Drone strategy, I would suggest driving this issue under project management guideline & risk mitigation plan.
    How the basic methodology of SCM can contribute to the understanding of construction supply chain problems, and in giving direction to improvement efforts need to be studied. The bottom-line is the effective resolution of interdependency-caused issues in the construction supply chain, including basic problems and their control.

  21. Jayasri says:

    Using drone to improve the efficiency and decrease the waste in construction site would be an expensive solution because it assumes that all the players in the construction industry have the capabilities to analyze big data and take decisions accordingly. Therefore, it is not yet a viable solution. According to “75% of supply chain organizations worldwide have reported concerns about the governance of digital projects.” Digital supply chain is still an emerging field which requires more and more companies to adapt and evolve. In addition, using a drone to monitor employees is not a good idea as it might not prove efficient because in business there is no one solution that works for all situations. Being said that, when we think of other coordination methods, information sharing among the players might prove effective.

  22. Aloma Aurelia DSouza says:

    At present, drones are actively being used at construction sites to track job progress, monitor quality and serves as an efficient surveying tool. It is an innovative idea to extend the use of drones to collect and analyze information that would be used to simulate optimum order quantities which would in turn be used to generate savings.
    Two important points to be thought about here are:
    1. Compare the savings generated due to material wastage vs the investment to be made on the drone (since this is a new technology there would be an initial lump-sum investment). This would help us assess if cost saving opportunities exist.
    2. One also needs to think about to what extent can the drones predict the optimal purchasing quantity. To some extent human intervention may be required (depending on the site under construction). Would it then result in the same situation as present?
    The information from drones will certainly impact worker behavior and may result in increased productivity. However, an accurate estimate to cost savings cannot be quantified at this stage.

  23. Apurva Desai says:

    In my opinion, the problem of waste at construction sites is a co-ordination problem. The better synchronization of demand and supply of material is the key to reduce waste. Coming with this perspective, I find drones to be one of the multiple solutions to ensure better management at construction sites. Drones are trendy and expensive way to achieve the required synchronization. One must consider the high set-up cost for drones which includes a controlling system, data sensing and analyzing facility, maintenance, and recharging of drones. Depending upon the potential saving which can be achieved at a construction site, drones use must be justifiably. Moreover, one must consider using alternatives which can ensure self-motivated workers rather than forced discipline through technology to reduce waste. Drone Technology is an emerging technology, with few years down the line it must be more mature, sophisticated and cheaper than the present technology.

  24. XUAN DONG says:

    Information sharing is important to all industries as well as those companies run within them. The issue mentioned in this blog is the typical example of how bad information sharing leads to huge waste in the process. 15% waste led to 160 billion. With this scale of waste, eliminating this 15% waste will help construction industry to save a lot. Drone data will provide real-time data sharing to all parties involved in the process so that all parties can response and make corresponding decisions in timely manner. Real-time data sharing also can eliminate information asymmetry which is the root cause for construction companies incurring huge waste. Therefore, I think the drone data will definitely help with current situation and drone data will become mainstream in the construction industry. There are serval concerns with implementation. For instance, maintenance cost should be considered. Drones should be periodically maintained to yield the best outcome. Workers behavior will change to some extent. It will take a while for them to get use to this new technology. They may initially resist the change because of extra effort and time they need to spend to learn how to use it. For on-site workers, drone implementation can increase their productivity because what they do will be captured by drone. However, in the meantime, on-site workers may feel uncomfortable working under surveillance. Therefore, for companies implementing drone technology, knowing how to balance benefit and drawback is important.

  25. Li-Ren (Ivan) Syu says:

    I believe that the implementation of drone could result in better material data collection / usage monitored and this could influence the construction project in two ways:

    For short term impact, the situation of being monitored may force workers to get rid of unnecessary waste and could also decrease their productivity as they’re working in a more uncomfortable environment. These changes on field operator will require corresponding work instruction or regulation to demonstrate the correct and more efficient way to complete a task.

    For long term impact, the project manager and budget owners can expect to gain better understanding about actual needs which means, better forecast accuracy. With better accuracy, the inventory level may expected to decrease, thus result in more saving at the beginning.

  26. Yuang Wang says:

    I don’t think it is feasible to use drones on the construction site. Although it claims to reduce material costs by 15%, I feel that the operating and maintenance costs of drones will increase significantly. According to my work experience, the supervision process of construction sites is very complicated and rigorous. The amount of materials cannot be accurately obtained only by remote observation by drones. At the same time, the construction environment of the construction site is very complicated, and each area has different safety rules. The intervention in the drone will greatly increase the management difficulty and safety risks. The potential cost in this aspect cannot be estimated, and may exceed the material cost by 15%. Therefore, I think it is not feasible.

  27. Sumit Singh says:

    The projected savings are huge, and thus there is full potential for new start-ups to come and capitalize. We can expect that third-party companies will come with this service and take up the job of smoother coordination between construction contractor and his suppliers. The inventory of materials and its delivery scheduled can therefore be outsourced to these start-ups. This will ensure no additional workload for the builder, which is the first step in encouraging adoption.
    I don’t see builders cutting estimates unless and until the technology is widely accepted and becomes industry standards. May be some reduction to appease the client can be seen, but I doubt that builder would pass on the complete or fair share of the savings to his client.
    Use of camera data for measuring worker productivity is a great idea, especially in the construction industry, where workers have full incentive to extravagate their work. But by use of this data one can easily plot performance of individuals over a period, to asses his competence. This data can allow supervisors to find the weak links and replace them. Ultimately, I believe that this productivity data can be used to alter the worker behavior.

  28. Gautam Venugopal says:

    Like most of my peers have rightly pointed out, immediate adoption of drone technology may not show any improvement, rather it might just lead to additional costs to the construction projects. A more gradual approach with a drone being deployed to monitor a smaller project with well defined variables might give better results.

    As Abhishek rightly pointed out, a VMI model would be the most realistic way to achieve high efficiencies. The drone would be required to transmit real time data through pictures or videos and human resources will be needed to monitor the data transmitted, analyse it and make immediate decisions, adding to the investment. The construction company would then be required to justify constant surveillance to their employees as well. It is a well known fact that micro-management often leads to drop in efficiency. All of these cost trade-offs would need to be rightly managed before concluding that drone surveillance would lead to 15% material savings.

  29. Mengying Song says:

    For my perspective, “Drown for every job sites” will be leading and innovative behavior in this field.
    Before the application of the drone for every job site, the construction company still need to consider the trade-off between the benefits and the costs of introducing drone to supervise the job sites. The premise of applying this technology is the company have to be sure that the cost of this new investment is lower than $160 million which is the saving could get from the waste.
    Also, the application of the drone definitely will affect worker behavior and increase productivity. But how long does it work and what extent of the impact still needs to be measured. And the time cost needs to be considered as well.

  30. Akshara Anand says:

    Drone technology is an up and coming area, wherein drones are increasingly being adopted across industries. Some of these industries where the adoption is high include IT-intensive industries like e-commerce and sensitive industries like defence, etc. But due to ease of use and high benefits, drone technology is being considered as a valuable add-on across many different industries, construction being one of the easiest to implement and fastest to realise savings

    The co-ordination for the construction industry are synchronisation between raw material suppliers, drone team that constantly monitors material, and the procurement department. The key here is efficient information sharing and quick turnaround time at all levels. Builders would cut cost estimates based on savings realised due to less wastage of raw materials. Forcing a new technology would work post some successful pilot runs of the drone

    Post success of the drone technology, the waste created would already be reduced. Additional information in the form of worker supervision would increase productivity not only in terms of work done, but also lead of better supervision of materials used, thereby resulting in optimised material usage by workers

  31. Longyu Guan says:

    Both planning process and purchasing process are necessary. Especially, for construction industry, a not synchronized schedules and a bad purchasing strategy can lead to 15% waste, which is estimated to be $160 billion in the US. I believe applying drone data in this industry is useful since it can decrease a lot of cost. Because of the save in decreasing waste, the company will have a lower debt, and the company will have more budget on other aspects, such as better design and innovation. Also, the company’s working capital turnover rate will increase, which can attract more investment. Thus, I believe the companies in construction industry should utilize drone data. However, implementing this technology will increase the training cost and maintaining cost. Also, workers may feel uncomfortable because of the monitoring from drone, and their productivity may decrease.

  32. Krishnajit Bhattacharyya says:

    The realization of savings that can happen with the adoption of drones at the construction sites will enable new co-ordination models that will likely become the norm soon. Reduction of wastes, which amount to 15% of the materials procured will benefit the buyers as well as the suppliers. Real-time materials inventory level will enable the companies to come up with better budget estimates, leading to competitive prices and bidding. A competitive environment thus will further push the adoption. Work productivity can be expected to improve with real-time monitoring using camera data. It will most likely affect worker behavior when they become aware of themselves being monitored remotely. Improved productivity will more likely improve savings.

  33. Li Zhao says:

    The drone can help with efficiency and accuracy of shared information but may not do some much good to workers behavior. The problem of waste is caused partly by lack of information synchronization. The main problem is still the management on construction site. However this real time synchronization really helps to improve efficiency of the whole supply chain management.

  34. Li Zhao says:

    The drone can help with efficiency and accuracy of shared information but may not do some much good to workers behavior. The problem of waste is caused partly by lack of information synchronization. The main problem is still the management on construction site. However this real time synchronization really helps to improve efficiency of the whole supply chain management. Application of drones can cut labour cost, which is used to monitor the sites and also avoid man-made ignorance or mistakes


    Drones at the construction sites can definitely help to they synchronize with the production schedule and organize their purchasing needs. Though these drones and software for construction models can be expensive initially to set up, these can quickly break even and realize results. They can monitor the daily material consumption and worker productivity rate and thus alert workers to be more disciplined.
    One important thing to make it succeed is to constantly update the data that comes in from these drones and make it autonomous in the long run. In the current age of Big data and optimization, this will not only help save time but also records data sufficient enough to predict the needs and generalize the costs, material and labor needs in the future.

  36. adityavats31 says:

    Drones have consistently been utilized as an impactful technology in all domains. Particularly in construction industry, Drones can be utilized in many ways- In mapping the real time condition of job sites , measuring the amount of project/construction material utilized, guarding materials from any theft etc. Not only will it provide visibility to the builders, it will also serve as a tool to plan for future projects by capturing the data, thereby effective in future construction project bids.

    By capturing the amount of construction material utilized on site, and closely monitoring the process of construction Drones will serve as an efficient tool to coordinate with the construction team to suggest for any discrepancies, the procurement team for ordering materials and invoicing, with the Project H.S.E. team to trace for any probable hazards of leaks, fatal damages etc. and with the project estimation team by giving the maximum data to convey the best possible cost estimation for future projects.

    With the real time traceability of drone, builders can detect for any probable issue with deliveries of their suppliers, furthermore, workers will always be more efficient as the drones will monitor all the activities of the project. Thus, the drone data will suggest best efficiency of the workers to implement better prices to bag construction projects.

  37. Keqian Hou says:

    After the businesses deploying the drones, the remote coordination model may start to emerge. With the help of the valuable bird-view, distribution and control team no longer need to be on-site. The size of the team will also decrease, since only one centralized control center is needed for the entire construction site. Schedule synchronization will be much easier. I believe the cost that comes from synchronization and purchasing issues will be saved. However, as the article mentioned, the number of licensed pilots is limited. The optimal solution would be completely autonomous drone which can land in charging pads itself and able to be operated by the control center. Also, the inventory can be managed smoothly. The distribution team can have the real time information of all inventory which are across the construction site.
    I don’t believe having drone deployed can increase worker’s productivity too much. But I do think that the rate of human error might dropped, because workers know any waste from them can be observed by the drone and may become more careful.
    Right now the autonomous technology is still a constraint, I don’t think builders will expect to see the savings immediately. But once the technology is matured, company may cut the budget and expect the savings by deploying the drone.

  38. Deboleena Sen says:

    Drones can collect historical data from construction sites regarding the purchase schedules of raw materials and lead time for every raw material. Aerial data collected by the drones can include the amount rate at which the construction materials have been consumed and the waste up till date. The aerial data can be combined with the historical data from construction sites to develop an optimization model that minimizes waste while maintaining enough raw material to suffice demand during lead-time. For the drones to become a primary means of reducing waste in the construction industry, apart from the accuracy of the model outputs, it will also be expected that the drones will generate enough savings to offset the initial outlay for data collection and model design and integration services.

  39. Kartik Misra says:

    Using drones at a construction site for analysis is antecedent to using satellites to analyze land and water data, although the former is at a more micro level. Drones are nothing but a flying camera, which can capture a lot of information, using enhanced camera hardware and software, to construct 3D models and recognize and quantify construction material, which helps in scheduling, ordering and inventory management. Commercial drones are definitely cheaper than flying aircraft or setting up a number of cameras and establishing a network, since the drones can be used at any construction site, at any given time.

    Drones may even help in increasing worker productivity through reconnaissance and planning activities. The coordination models expected through implementing drone activities in construction would be to see the flow of material and estimate the amount of material used and left, which will help in scheduling orders and maintaining inventory. Drones can also be used to capture data and form models in AutoCad, which will help architects and engineers better plan the design and construction and make room for changes if required.
    These activities will definitely enable builders to cut on losses and will help them work in the budget, instead of over or needless spending. This will eventually impact the bottom line of a construction project and increase the same.

  40. Vrinda Vishal Chopra says:

    Before suggesting a solution like bringing in drones for better purchase synchronization and material savings, cause analysis for the failure is very important. As construction industry is very labor intensive, bringing in drones maybe an option but not very easy to implement. Also, platforms like predictive analytics could be used to improve the various functions and thus savings could be realized. Drone is one of the latest and very useful technology, but implementation of the same in an industry which is not standardized if geographical locations taken into consideration maybe not the most optimal solution.

  41. Yeqi Wu says:

    Drones might be a doable scheme. That can cover the fluctuation of demand of materials. However, before we use it into the consruction site, we should fighre something out. Is the drones easy damaged? Since the construction site is dusty and complex, we should make sure the drones have a long enough lifespan working in the construction site. The cost of drones would be high, and if we have to change the machine frequently, the cost would be higher instead of saving money. Also, emerge an additional transport mothed would lead a huge mount of assiociated cost, like the cost to create a new system, new database, new receiving method, etc. Therefore, we could not say drones would work before getting these information.

  42. Junaid Imtiaz says:

    The material wastage that is currently taking place in the industry is no doubt massive as it translates to an estimated 160 billion USD, thus the incentive to reduce this wastage is very significant. Utilizing drones for information gathering, inventory and material tracking, performance tracking allows for a significant advantage as the drones can save a large amount of time and resources in comparison to traditional surveillance and audits meaning the data, in theory, could be actively shared with suppliers and vendors leading to very accurate scheduling and shipments. The drones can be utilized for much longer, can be easily maneuvered at any angle or height and can be utilized at any time compared to human surveyors even remotely, the data can be transmitted immediately to the company servers saving time in communications as well. All of this information gathering and transmission will result in massive amounts of information that needs to be stored, transmitted and analyzed. All of these advantages though will only come into practice if there is effective information management system that can handle the massive amounts of information store it, transmit it and above all analyze it in an efficient manner.

    The constant surveillance of the employees means that in theory the performance should improve as the workers cannot slack off and performance will be tracked and any problems identified quickly but in practice the employee morale could seriously be affected and they could become stressed and demotivated due to being constantly monitored by an eye in the sky with absolutely minimum amounts of privacy which In itself could lead to legal problems in regards to employee rights and working conditions. Initially I believe the builders will utilize the drone surveillance system in preliminary runs at a limited level instead of forcing its adoption, due to the significant IT management system and network requirements associated with this system the builders might also conduct cost-benefit evaluations for this system as it is also dependant on the IT capabilities of the suppliers and vendors to fully achieve the efficiency gains and savings that are desired.

  43. Pardha Sai Vangavolu says:

    One relevant example that i have read in the news regarding the use of drones at construction and job sites is that of the Polavaram project, a joint initiative by the central government of India and the state government of Andhra. The estimated cost of the project is USD 8 billion and it is the most prestigious river-linking projects undertaken in recent times. The project has been delayed several times due to irregularities in scheduling purchases that costed a fortune for the government. Therefore, the government of Andhra developed a real-time governance (RTI) system wherein it utilises drones to track not only the progress of the construction activity of the project but also the worker productivity along with the estimated time of completion of the left or right canal construction activities. By use of such drones, the efficiency of construction activity has improved and looks much better now than it had been in the past.

    With respect to scale and size of the project, in my opinion, drones can be used to collect data across different construction activities of a certain project and provide visibility to different department heads so as to allow for synchronisation. Also, such information can be directly transmitted to the contractor in real-time to allow him to purchase any materials or utilise any which are already in stock. Builders or contractors in such cases can also benefit from the use of drones (since its cheap) as opposed to the use of human surveyors, which would take longer time, and is prone to errors. In addition to providing detailed information about worker productivity, data collected from drones can also impact behaviour of workers as in they tend to work effectively under surveillance, thereby leading to improved utilisation levels of workers. Transparency in amount of material required and the associated costs can also be achieved by use of such information.

  44. Gautam Venugopal says:

    As most my peers have rightly pointed out, hasty decisions to deploy drones to the construction sites may not necessarily lead to changes, rather they could end up costing the company more than it seems to be losing at the moment.

    In my opinion, a small site with well defined variables could be used as a test environment. The drones would then be required to transmit real time data in the form of photos or videos that a human resource would analyze and take appropriate decisions, basically like a video input VMI. These would contribute to the overall cost of switching to the new system. Additionally, the company would be required to justify the need for constant surveillance to it workers. It is a well known fact that micro-management often leads to decreased efficiency in a workforce.

    If these cost trade-offs can be justified with a large enough margin to accommodate for miscellaneous costs, they can then move on to implementing the system to larger sites.

  45. Sounak says:

    “15% of materials delivered to construction sires end up in landfills” is a huge number. Data coordination from drones with the purchases needed can definitely reduce the wastage.
    Easier said than done, using drone technology will add cost to builders bill. Using drones to capture data maybe useful for large constructions projects, but not with small projects.
    Also the risks and the disadvantages of the technology should be properly analyzed before integrating this technology. The data captured of the worker productivity will not have
    much impact on the workers’ working behavior as they will always find a way to go around it. Using drones, continuous surveillance of workers is not advisable, as the workers will
    loose trust with the builders, which may adversely affect the constructions.

  46. Brandon Black says:

    It seems to me that worker productivity would be affected. Job site progress can be very variable, but almost always behind. They often are waiting on 1 approval or another to start another phase of work. If drones watched they might trigger a slower release of materials which in turn would cause another delay. Workers might be incentivized to slow down their work so that they aren’t waiting at transition points as much. This obviously all theoretical, it totally depends on how human the release of materials becomes. It is becomes more automated then it’s puts it at risk, if this is just another chunk of data project managers can use then it adds huge value.

  47. Aishwarya P B Naga says:

    Real time monitoring is something which is becoming popular these days in most of the industries. It is also important because the person monitoring this data can identify the problem and rectify it immediately. Drones provide such real time data to the construction companies who use them to identify any mistake in the design during the construction itself which saves a lot of time and avoids rework.
    With this information available readily, the planning becomes more efficient. The progress of a construction project can be tracked easily, and future planning can be done accordingly. Drones also give accurate measurements which helps to save cost on the materials. This also prevents purchasing of excess material or having shortage of materials.
    Drones also help in avoiding accidents by providing access to the areas which are difficult to access and dangerous. Drone data can help to focus on areas of concern by a 360-degree inspection using VR safety goggles instead of focusing on unnecessary tasks. They can also be used to identify the inefficiencies of the workers and help to overcome them.

  48. Sanjula sinha says:

    Streamlining of operational job in order to cut on operations costs has been a pressing point since last decade. This makes sense when your margin are going down owing to the fact that due extreme competitive and free market economics not a lot of space is left at the revenue front. Having said that, it also means that operational costs cuts should be budgeted in its real terms and not on the expected estimations. This means that the market still needs proof of concept in emerging technologies in order to adjust to its benefits. Or what I mean is its tough to say that their is a need to cut cost estimates. As far as adoption is concerned, the starting fixed cost and other overheard related to it will make sure that no real benefits are immediately available. But! We need adoption anyway which can be promoted by having a phased and targeted cost cut approach as compared to an outright one.
    Secondly, drone technology with precision tech is a vital part of phenomenon called Industry 4.0 . Its adoption and all together technology adoption will serve as the differentiation factor for many companies in the 21st century hence hesitation should not be given any room but yes a rational approach to budgeting should be.
    As far as People’s reaction to this is concerned, with proper training and adoption journey, all those things have and will be sorted out.

  49. Ravleen Kaur says:

    Drones will enable better synchronization of information flow and material flow. It will monitor data real time and help the companies to take decisions according. Drones will not only help in increasing visibility in the system but also provide access to safety pitfalls for example can help in surveying the land properly and caution for safety issues in the construction site. Reduction in 15% waste ,decrease in the number of accidents and increased visibility and worker productivity will boost savings and will enable the adoption of sites in the construction sites. It will impact worker’ s behavior as they need to be more efficient and well trained to bridge the physical and technology gap.

  50. Shekar Sankar Raman says:

    The new fad of drones is leading techs companies to come up with better applications. Although I am not sure that the this tech would be appropriate to collect the apt data required to decide purchase quantity of construction materials, the idea of it seems promising and the implementation would surely save costs in the construction industry. Coordination models using speculative capacity may seem to be used more often. If drones are able to provide accurate data then there would not be a great need for inventory thereby reducing costs further. I believe that that changes such as these must not be made with immediate effect. The process and savings of this strategy must be analysed in depth before adopting it blindly. As for the worker productivity, it is bound to increase as this technology gets more popular. The reason for this would not only the fear of the workers to be constantly under scrutiny, but also that major faults can be identified promptly.

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