Embracing Technology in these times of Social Distancing

Ollie Chadwick | 03 April 2020

In the current pandemic it is proving more difficult to survey buildings safely and quickly whilst complying with the Government’s requirement to socially distance. It is therefore more important than ever to consider other ways in which building surveys may still be carried out safely and swiftly.

At OBI we have a fully qualified and trained in-house drone team available to assist clients with building surveys and in particular roof inspections.

Using a recent building survey as a case study, we provide a brief snapshot of the benefits of embracing innovation and undertaking a survey with drone assistance instead of a traditional cherry picker or access platforms, which usually require close proximity in the cherry picker cradle with the trained operator.

Before commencing a drone flight, a desk top action plan would be compiled. Flight plans are plotted, risk assessments are produced, weather conditions are assessed, local air space regulations and restrictions are checked and the necessary authorisation from local landowners, air traffic control towers and authorities are obtained.

This planning is legally required by the Civil Aviation Authority in preparation for any commercial flight.

On site

A drone can be flown by one trained operative. In contrast, using a cherry picker for the same task can be fraught with issues on both occupied and unoccupied sites. Gaining truck access to many unoccupied sites frequently requires the removal of concrete security blocks requiring forward planning and often incurs extra cost. On busy industrial sites, a cherry picker is also at risk of blocking transit routes, a challenge increased by the need to set up in multiple locations for the surveyor to inspect. This can be a time-consuming exercise.

In flight

By preplanning the routes, the drone can be GPS guided with precision across the exact same circuit a number of times to ensure nothing is missed. Multiple passes can be undertaken as close as two meters from the building for close inspection of defects. A second flight is mapped at a distance of around fifty meters to capture impressive aerial marketing shots and useful boundary outline and geographical placement shots. This close inspection of the entire roof is not possible when using a cherry picker.

Areas of a site that would usually be accessed by a cherry picker such as complex, large span or potentially unsafe roof spaces can all be inspected easily and safely from the ground with the use of a drone.

OBI recently inspected a 110,000Sqft warehouse and office in two 20-minute flights, giving high definition footage of all roof components including the entire site from 150ft, and dynamic video footage.

Using a drone avoids the challenges faced by social distancing and is a much more efficient way to inspect the roof of a property (particularly large industrial units) enabling much more information to be gathered via video and at a closer distance.

On the ground

After the flight is completed, the footage is replayed and reviewed, relevant video clips are sent directly from the pilot’s device to the client, allowing them to review immediate updates in real time. Building defects are captured and relayed in real time enabling any issues to be identified quickly.

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