Which is better: Owning or hiring a drone service provider?

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Drones have become increasingly popular in architecture, engineering and construction projects over the past decade and for good reason too! 

UAVs or unmanned aircraft vehicles are a profitable alternative to manual inspections and physical site visits. Building managers and contractors no longer have to spend hours under the sweltering heat inspecting every aspect of the project manually. 

Today, you can access everything that is happening on site from the comforts of your office. Drones capture and deliver real time site insights to AEC builders and engineers, speeding up the project. 

Drones in construction inspections have been quite prevalent over the years. 

In this blog, we will talk about the difference between having an in-house drone or hiring a drone service provider. 

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A few of our past projects from our years of experience of working with 100+ clients in AEC Industry carrying out 3D Laser Scanning, modelling, volumetric calculations, aerial inspections, mapping & contour surveys, aerial land surveying, photomontage and much more.

Drones are a gamechanger for AEC companies helping engineers with aerial asset inspections and land surveys. It saves you time, is cost effective and is an overall lucrative option in the long run. 

However, AEC industry experts who are still new to drone tech often have the question- should I hire a drone service provider or invest in an in house drone? 

Well, there are pros and cons to both these options. It all dumbs down to your unique project requirements and considerations. 

Here are a few factors you should be exploring to identify your specific needs and determine which option works best for you.

What is the scope of the project?

The first thing to consider is the scope of the project. By scope, I mean the end goal of the project.

The scope also refers to how big the project is. A small scale construction project can do without regular drone surveys. Small scale projects also have a shorter duration. In such a situation, I recommend you hire drone professionals on an hourly basis. 

For large scale projects or AEC companies that get consistent projects over time, investing in an in-house drone program is a smarter choice.

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What kind of site survey data do you need? 

Using drones for construction inspection can account for better site data accuracy. You can scan hundreds of acres in an hour, saving a lot of time and effort. 

However there are different levels of drone data accuracy that varies from project to project. You can check out our blog on measuring drone data accuracy for more insights on this. 

Projects that don’t require a high level of data accuracy can be handled by an inexperienced in-house team. And if most of your projects are along the same line then buying a drone and getting a basic drone training and certification is enough.  

However, construction projects that require higher levels of absolute or global accuracy might need some professional assistance. Note that capturing higher levels of drone accuracy requires high tech and expensive drone equipment. It is best that you let the professional drone service providers handle it. 

How do you plan to use drones? 

Drones can be used in a number of ways and for a number of things in a construction project. For starters you can use them for simple land surveys wherein you inspect a site before beginning the project. 

Drones are also used for aerial asset inspections and monitoring on site activities. This is often done when the project is well underway to check if everything is under schedule. 

Depending on your requirements, you can either invest in a drone or hire drone service providers. 

For instance, if you plan to use the drone more often for land inspections then getting an in-house drone makes sense. This way you don’t have to spend extra money hiring drone experts for your project. 

However, if drones appear once in a blue moon on your projects then it is best that you hire professionals for those specific occasions. 

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Are you trained to operate a drone? 

In Australia, all commercial and recreational drone activities are supervised by CASA. Anyone who wants to fly drones for commercial purposes must first get a license from CASA. 

And once you get this license, you must always adhere to the drone regulations stated by CASA

 when you are flying drones over your site. 

Failure to comply by these regulations doesn’t just have legal consequences but can also lead to damages, destruction of property and people. 

So, when you are investing in an in-house drone program, ensure that you have a team of trained drone pilots who can operate drones over construction sites. 

This also applies to AEC companies that choose to hire drone experts.  Always ask your drone service provider if they are certified and trained to operate drones in Australia. 

At Avian, all our drone pilots are trained and have CASA drone licenses and CWCs which makes us a credible organisation. More about us can be found in this capability summary report 2020.

What is your budget to hire a drone service provider 

And finally, there’s the most important question of the budget. Buying a drone is an investment. You don’t just buy a drone but you also have to set up a drone operation program wherein you train your team as per CASA’s guidelines. 

Buying a drone makes sense if you frequently use drones or UAVs for your construction projects. It might seem like a hefty investment but it pays well in the long run once you have a solid drone program established. 

Hiring drone service providers on the other hand, is a good idea when you only occasionally use drones for land surveys. For instance, an architectural firm that only needs drones for specific projects can hire drone pilots for the job. 

Hiring drone pilots and outsourcing the land surveys to a third-party saves you a lot of time that you can now invest somewhere else. 

At Avian, we usually have a face to face meeting with the client to discuss these details and our pricing schemes to help them make an informed decision. 

You can check out our drone service cost guidelines 2021 for more insights on our pricing. 

Or you can contact our team today to book a consultation!

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