What is that buzzing? It sounds like a flying weed whacker.

You look up and see what looks like something from a Star Wars movie. Blinking lights and all.

Looking around you see the operator with the command module.  Looking into it further, it turns out that it is a professional roof consultant using a UAV or drone to complete data collection for a roof inspection.

What is a UAV or drone?

Unless you have been living under a rock, chances are good that you have heard about the drone craze. A drone or a UAV is an unmanned aerial vehicle. Professional building consultants and contractors are finding many uses for this new technology.

A drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle that is piloted remotely for take-off, flight and landing. Most have heard of drones being used for military purposes. However, drones are finding many other uses. Many creative pilots are finding uses in different industries including the construction industry.

How can drones benefit you as a building owner?

Professional roof and building consultants are using UAVs or drones to provide different services and benefits to customers.

As drones are continued to be developed and deployed, the opportunities for new services continues to grow as well.

Here is a list of three top benefits that you can realize by working with a professional roof and building consultant who can deploy drone technology:

  1. Access Hard to Reach Areas

There are many buildings and structures that are difficult to gain access to. There may also be obstructions or building features that make access difficult or dangerous. Using a drone can help minimize costs associated with accessing these areas. They can also keep individuals safely away from sources of danger during the inspection process.

An example of a difficult to access area would be assessing mid-rise facade waterproofing.  Roof Asset Management Inc. has consulted on many buildings were the facade has been in question.

Typically, it is harder to gain access to these vertical surfaces without setting up scaffolding or renting an aerial work platform.  Using a drone allows quick access to these areas without setting up scaffolding. This results in a faster assessment with a reduced cost.

There are many times where buildings are connected to the power grid at an external exposed point on the building. These areas can present waterproofing issues and require closer inspection. By using drones, the operator can remain at a safe distance away from the power supply but still be able to assess the area for waterproofing problems that require attention.

  1. Cost Effective Aerial Imagery

For many reasons building owners and managers like to have aerial images of their buildings. They may use these images for documenting the condition of the existing building for insurance coverage.

The images may be used for planning and development of the property. Aerial images allow building owners and managers to be able to gain a better oversight of their property.

A primary factor in the long-term performance of roofing systems is the drainage of the roof system. Roof systems that provide better drainage and limit the ponding water on the roof system perform better long-term. Aerial imagery provides a better opportunity to assess the overall drainage patterns of the building.

Aerial imagery services can be costly. Building owners and property managers are forced to wait for the aerial imagery company’s schedule which may take several months before they are in the area of the building.

In addition, the aerial image company is not capable of interpreting the images to help determine the current drainage patterns for the building or other features of the roof system. Using a professional roof consultant who deploys drone technology can be a quicker and more cost-effective solution for building owners and property managers.

  1. Aerial Infrared

Many building owners and property managers have used infrared scanning services to help assess the condition of their roofing systems.  Infrared technology is used to locate trapped moisture within roof assemblies.

Infrared cameras are able to assess infrared energy being emitted from roof systems and capture images of the energy patterns. The images can then be interpreted to help determine potential areas of trapped moisture.

There have been two traditional methods of capturing infrared images. The primary method has been to deploy boots-on-the-roof technicians with handheld infrared cameras to perform assessments.

The other option has been to contract with an aerial infrared thermography company.  These companies operate manned planes with an external mounted infrared camera to do flyovers to capture these images. The use of a manned plane is costly and time consuming.

New UAVs or drones are now able to carry an infrared camera as a payload. There are benefits to using a drone affixed with an infrared camera. Drones can be a more cost-effective solution as the technology can be deployed locally at the site instead of flying from a remote airport. The drone can be flown for a fraction of the cost of a manned plane.  In addition, the drone can hover over the target and capture more images when compared to a flyover taking place.

Downside to Drones?

As with any other technology, drones are not the answer in all situations. There is no substitute for a professional roof consultant being able to step on your roof system and complete a hands-on assessment of your building.

Drones are like any other tool that a professional roof consultant uses.  They are an extension of the individual. UAVs enhance the ability of the consultant to do their job and provide quality services to their clients.

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