About this time last year, I wrote a series of articles about technology and the construction industry. One of them, published in February of 2019, mentioned the increasing use of drones around construction sites. I make no claim for being first with this news: drones have been around the construction world for some time now. However, the good news is that the mainstream media, by which I mean the Sunday Telegraph, has eventually caught up. In the edition of Sunday 29thDecember 2019, we can read about this amazing new development under the heading “How drones could transform the way we build Britain’s cities,” and more specifically how “Edinburgh-based company Cyberhawk can take images of more than 200 hectares of land in one day using drones.”
However, and there is a serious point here, the Telegraph’s article does make a couple of valid points. Drone technology brings problems as well as benefits, in particularly the need to register as an operator and pass an online theory test – with a £1,000 fine if you don’t. This might make it difficult for the majority of SME construction firms to afford the technology. Apparently, even the big construction firms have not made the leap, with fewer than 20 having in-house drone pilots. In addition, there is the danger of accidents, with at least one drone operator flying his craft into a crane and other evidence of firms not replacing crashed drones due to the cost involved.
That said, if the construction industry concentrated only on what might have gone wrong in the past then nothing would ever have been built in the first place. The basic laws of supply and demand, plus the probability of specialist drone contractors competing and thus driving down hire prices, will make this a technology that really does take off. The new UK government’s need to invest in housing and infrastructure to try to retain its newly acquired northern seats and try and regain some of the seats it lost in Scotland ought to mean that construction has a decent year (external factors permitting) in 2020.
Perhaps this time next year the Telegraph will be reporting on it…
Chris Peace, MD, Peace Recruitment