Drone Imaging: Pros and Cons

What you need to know about drone imaging for inspection.

It’s the 21st century, and everything seems to be running at full speed. In the building inspection industry, how do we catch up? Well, for one, we utilise the latest in imaging technology to conduct our inspections via drones.

Drones are UAVs, otherwise known as unmanned or uncrewed aerial vehicles that serve as our eyes especially in high-risk and hard to reach areas. They take clear images in different perspectives, which is essential for us to perform our assessments and reports effectively.

What are the advantages of drone imaging?

Using drones for inspections means that we save ourselves from unnecessary liabilities and costs. This translates to savings, and much more, that we can pass on to you.

Reduced risk to the crew

1. Reduced risk to the crew

A preliminary report from Safe Work Australia states that nearly 20 people have died while working at construction sites this year alone. While that number does not point directly to building inspection, we don’t want to add to the statistic as well as put our inspectors at risk.

So, we let drones do our work, rather than have someone from our team rappel down the side of a building or battle a strong gust of wind while high up on a tower. While you’re reducing the time that an inspector is exposed to dangerous situations, you are also significantly lowering your liability insurance cost.

Can reach difficult areas

2. Can reach difficult areas

Hard to reach areas are exactly just that – they are difficult to reach but not impossible. But access to these sections may mean dangerous than some. For example, to inspect a building’s façade for water leaks, one needs to set up scaffolding (suspended or otherwise) or use an aerial work platform. Not us. Our drones can easily gather images that will let us assess the façade’s waterproofing and other hard to reach areas at a safe location.

Save time and money.

3. Save time and money.

Erecting a scaffold normally takes a day. Dismantling it requires the same amount of time. Not to mention the weeks of planning, designing and all the other complexities that come with using one. Every day you spend on these technicalities will cost you money.

If your business needs to be shut down for the inspection, think of all the revenue that you might lose whether it is only for just a day or a few weeks. By using a drone, you won’t need all the space necessary for building a scaffolding, and there definitely would be no downtime that can disrupt your business.

Lower cost means increased inspections.

4. Lower cost means increased inspections.

As drone inspections are relatively cheaper, you can afford to schedule them more regularly. Frequent inspections mean that you will be able to catch problems early on and fix them before they exacerbate and cost you hundreds of thousands more in repair. Regular inspections also allow you to keep a meticulous record of your property, which you can access at any time.

Clear, sharp images

5. Clear, sharp images

Drones can carry onboard high-resolution cameras (up to 4K), which can shoot clear and sharp images. This visual clarity can help to show damages or flaws that the human eye sometimes misses, such as hairline cracks or rust spots the size of pinholes.

The fact that more than one technical and qualified person (not just the inspector on the roof) is able to see the images being transmitted by the drone helps in identifying problem areas quickly and accurately. One can also attach a thermal camera on the drone to detect leaks and trapped moisture through heat differentials.

What are the downsides of using drones?

As always, when there are upsides, there are also downsides. Here are the disadvantages of using drone technology when inspecting buildings.

License is required

1. License is required

Anyone flying a 2 kilogram or bigger drone for commercial purposes needs to apply for a remote pilot license (RePL) with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority or CASA. Prior training with a CASA-certified training provider is required. You also need to have a remotely piloted aircraft operator’s certificate or work for a ReOC holder if you are flying a drone for commercial purposes. The rules are; if you are getting paid to do it, you are flying your drone commercially.

Loss of control or malfunction

2. Loss of control or malfunction

Like any computer-controlled machines, drones can succumb to software failure or malfunction. Radio frequency interference can mess with the signal, which can result in loss of control.

Drone blades are sharp and can cause harm, and in worst cases, death, when they veer off course and hit people. So, aside from reliable software and hardware, a drone needs to be flown by a trained professional.

Susceptible to hacking

3. Susceptible to hacking

Most connected devices are susceptible to hacking. Drones are no exceptions. According to security researchers, some commercial drones and many consumer drones ‘have serious vulnerabilities that could allow them to be hacked up to a mile away.’ Most of these commercial drones were intentionally hacked to identify security issues and correct them. However, as long as vulnerabilities in their systems exist, hackers will try to hijack or compromise these UAVs, thus posing a threat to safety, privacy and data security.

Highly dependent on the weather

4. Highly dependent on the weather

Flying drones rely heavily on favourable weather conditions. Otherwise, they may not manoeuvre appropriately or gather the best data or images. Some high-end drones, however, are more stable and can operate in windy conditions successfully.

No-drone zones

5. No-drone zones

Airports and aerodromes, as well as iconic structures such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, are no-drone zones. You can’t fly past or hover over large crowds or events too. As a rule, you are not allowed to fly a drone, no matter how high, over people at any time. This eliminates incidents where drones fail, fall and harm people.

Equipment is costly

6. Equipment is costly

It’s nothing like chartering a helicopter or plane but buying professional quality drones can set you back a few thousand dollars. But you must look at the high upfront cost and think of the time and money you will save in the long run.

Book your building inspection with EBI

Planning to buy a property? Looking to sell a building? Let EBI handle the building and pest inspections. We can also provide you with objective maintenance inspections and insurance inspections report. We will furnish you with reliable and professional reports. Book now!