Drones: A powerful tool for the Facilities Manager
You may see them as a nuisance, a risk to privacy, or simply another gadget trend, but there’s no denying that when in the right hands a drone can be a valuable tool for the Facilities Manager. Drones may have developed a bad reputation due to reckless drone piloting in the hands of amateurs, but there are many instances of drones being used to do amazing things, from gathering surveillance on serious crimes to delivering packages high in the Bavarian mountains. It’s not hard to see the numerous applications that drone piloting can have in the world of Facilities Management. Watch the quick video below to see some amazing drone footage around London:
One of the clearest benefits of working with drones is to eliminate the potential danger involved with working at extreme heights. According to recent HSE statistics, falls from height account for approximately 50% of all workplace fatalities within the UK. Using drones. If we are able to remove the need to access a roof for inspection using drone technology, then we make it easier, quicker, cheaper and safer to assess fragile and unsafe roofs, chimneys, guttering, building fabric, glazing and roof mounted plant.
Obviously, drones don’t have the comprehensive insight that an experienced facilities professional will have and drones can’t be used for thorough examination of areas (e.g. clearing aggregate or lifting loose mineral felt for further examination), however they can be used effectively to conduct general video or photographic assessment to identify any potential issues. The drone’s imaging system may pick up on leaks and debris, but until a facilities professional carries out an inspection you can’t really be sure if it’s benign or if it’s a sign of something much bigger. You always need to get a trained human in front of this equipment to notice the small details, and have a chance to prevent any issues.
Another aspect of drone technology which is gaining traction within the Facilities Management sector is aerial thermal imaging. Improved affordability means that aerial thermal technology is becoming more widely available at lower costs. This allows FM professionals to obtain information quickly and efficiently, for example drones equipped with thermal imaging technology could carry out detailed thermal assessments on buildings to assess energy loss, and assist with the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) process. The ability to fly over a building at height and fully scan for thermal properties from the roof, building fabric and glazing is another significant advancement within the industry and makes for a quicker and less intrusive assessment.
The rise in commercial use of drone technology across a wide range of industries suggests that many professionals are starting to recognise what they can offer, and it is certainly something for facilities management professionals to consider.