Equipment World

December 2017

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Page 47 of 75

December 2017 | 48 "In the past, we've been our clients' experts out in the field," says Rabine. "We've sent project managers or engineers out to look at their facilities and assess them to help them build budgets. But with the use of the drone technology over the past two years, we dispatch drones, and they fly the site for us. It's much cheaper, and we're able to get information back a lot quicker." Drone demand growing in pavement work "Over the past 18 months, we've been using drones a lot," Rabine says. The pace of his company's drone use quickened in 2017 with more than 700 drone flights and assessments by early November and another 300 expected by year's end. Using drones has trans- formed the speed in which his company works. In the past, Rabine Paving America would send subject-matter experts to walk sites, and when they spotted an issue, they'd photograph it from the ground. "We wouldn't really see the full picture of what's going on in the facility. But with drones, depending on the project size, we get any- where from a few hundred to a few thousand photos of the entire site, and they're all mapped out on Google maps so that you can see exactly where those photos are taken," Rabine says. "Then, our team in the of- fice and our pavement engi- neers go through photos, and that's how we assess their facilities now – rather than sending anybody out on site." Using drones in his busi- ness was a learning process from the start; fine-tuning continues. "Now that we've got a good process around it, we're serving our clients better and faster than ever before, and they're lov- ing it," Rabine says. With momentum picking up, his company will focus more on this as an added service. "Until satellite images get a lot clearer and cheaper, this is going to take over the industry as far as property assessments go," he says. Volumetric calculations and more PLM Paving and Concrete in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, uses its drone for marketing, for volumetric calculations, for quoting excavations and for figuring how much trucking they'll need as they re- move piles, says PLM's Jon Elliott. Earlier this year, PLM used its drone to determine the square foot- age of a gravel parking lot that was going to be paved and couldn't be found on Google Earth, says Elliott, an FAA certified commercial drone operator. "It helps us in accuracy of measurements on some things that are tougher to measure from the ground," he says. "I don't know how to lay that out into cost sav- ings – it's just more about having better, more accurate information." road technology | continued D rone manufacturer and service provider Kespry is seeing growing drone use by pav- ing contractors, which are using them for volumetric and surface area measurement and to document project progress, says Jason Nichols, product marketing manager. The company is introducing many more fea- tures and capabilities for complex measurements, which could be generating greater interest, he says. Using drones can enhance worker safety, particularly when they're deployed to evaluate material stockpiles in paving operations that produce their own asphalt, says Nichols, who has worked as an engineering geologist for construc- tion site projects. "The additional high-resolution imagery to support the progress of your paving, as well as to help determine the conditions that are surround- ing the site, really helps drive up the value for an aerial solution," he says. Contractors also are keeping an eye on regula- tory requirements developing for other uses of drones, Nichols said, as well as the evolving technology. "We're starting to see in finer detail, and that's where I think interest is going to lie," he says. Giri Klausner, owner of Veuwr, a Florida-based video and aerial services firm, says that over the past 18 months his firm has completed more drone flights for commercial paving contractors. But he's also finding that about half of the pav- ing contractors he calls on already have their own drones or have a relative or friend who operates one for them, Klausner says. Costs for his firm's aerial services range from $375 to $1,200 per job. Some assignments involve drones manually operated at low levels, while others involve drones taking off by them- selves and flying higher on autonomous missions to produce a 3D map. Tom Clayton, director of training and member services for the Colorado Asphalt and Pavement Association, says he's seeing paving contractors use drones to monitor plants and stockpiles. "They're putting the drones up, flying over the stockpiles and doing their estimates of aggregate stockpiles." The association has its own drone, which pan- oramically views members' projects. "I fly it over projects as they're under construction and as they get done," Clayton says. "It's just a totally different perspective." Nationwide, a new perspective Elliott

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