Construction: In-House Drone Program vs. Drone Services Provider
This is a good article by Gene Blinkov regarding the outsourcing of drones in the construction industry. The original article can be found HERE
As drones have grown in popularity the affordability of drones for day-to-day use has greatly improved. Yet, to complete the type of work expected on construction sites and analyze the collected data appropriately, companies should know that initial costs for drone operation could reach up to $50,000. After the initial cost companies will incur additional time & expenses for the operation, data processing software subscriptions and insurance to name a few.
Companies need to consider the type of equipment they need, as well as the needed accessories for monitoring and surveying. Accessories include camera sensors, batteries, tablets, protective gear etc. And the costs don't stop there. In addition to the drones and accessories, companies will need to find the right kind of software to analyze the data being collected. The primary four areas of expense are equipment, accessories, software and pilot training.
Taking on such responsibilities as a company in order to have an in-house drone program can be a huge burden that hinders momentum. In addition to the initial start up costs of developing an in-house drone program and operator costs, companies will have to consider liability and litigation risk. The Federal Aviation Administration requires a commercial insurance policy that covers liability up to one million dollars. Companies would have to check with their insurance carriers if they even offer commercial drone liability insurance, as it's a relatively new area. Insurance, if it is available, can be expected to run another $2,000-3000 a year.
How the FAA Is Getting Involved
If the cost of operation and gear isn't enough, new Federal Aviation Administration operating rules add to cost and training time for commercial operation of drones. A commercially used drone can only be operated by a certified UAV pilot or observed by one. Drone operators must man the drone within their visual line of sight, without any aid such as the use of binoculars. Training for certification includes an exam for the applicants' knowledge of regulations, airspace classifications, aviation weather sources and emergency procedures. The exam itself is not difficult - but knowing your way around flying a drone above a ton of expensive equipment and other obstacles takes a lot of practice.
In-house vs. Service Provider Partnership
With so much cost to consider and the need for trained individuals, partnering with drone professionals eases a lot of the stress and can save companies money. By working with outside company professionals, companies will save money every month, the liability will remain with the drone professionals and there's no need to train or hire personnel to operate the drone. Flights and inspections can be planned ahead of time and the data collected and analyzed can be delivered to project managers, lenders and investors incredibly fast!
* On a personal note, the work that I've seen from in-house drone operations is quite bland and lifeless when compared to that of a professional.
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