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Case Study – Drone Surveys

Drone surveys have become increasingly popular in a wide range of industries, including construction, agriculture and mining. The use of drones for surveying has revolutionised the house building industry, providing more accurate and detailed data in comparison to more traditional surveying methods. 

Building over 10 thousand homes each year, our client* is one of the UK’s largest house builders. Following previous occurrences of discovering multiple discrepancies during the construction of a large housing development, the engineering team was tasked with eliminating vast costs due to correcting multiple errors and oversights during the previous build stages.  

Despite traditional topographical surveying having the ability to produce basic data sets, this method not only proved time-consuming, but lacked in both the ability to provide more comprehensive data as well as the ability to monitor the build progress over time

* Company and client names have been removed throughout this document in the interests of anonimity.
“Using aerial imagery from drone surveys helps us anticipate errors or mistakes in the next stage of development instead of waiting for work to start on the ground. This proactive approach has saved us hundreds of thousands of pounds; a reactive approach can be costly”
Senior Engineer
Client

ANONYMOUS*

Date

MARCH, 2024


*Company and client names have been removed throughout this document in the interests of anonimity.
Using drone surveys provided numerous benefits for our clients. 

Drone Surveying were instructed to carry out drone surveys, completing initial and subsequent site surveys for the entirety of the development’s build. 

A team of drone operators were hired to fly over the site on a monthly basis using a drone equipped with a high-quality camera and GPS technology to capture high-resolution images, 3D models and video footage.

With Health and Safety being the number one priority for house builders, these remote surveys eliminated many risks while working on-site.  

On receiving the survey, the layout of the site is overlayed and several basic as-built checks will be carried out, such as the position of fence boundaries and the position and condition of driveways; all will be compared to the as-built survey design.

“Using aerial imagery from drone surveys helps us anticipate errors or mistakes in the next stage of development instead of waiting for work to start on the ground. This proactive approach has saved us hundreds of thousands of pounds; a reactive approach can be costly”
Technical Director
Survey shows plot significantly out of line from original architects plans
Examples of errors that were discovered as a result of using drone data:

The potential for litigation with Land Registry or council planning teams leading to significant financial implications had these errors not been spotted was a serious reality.  

Difficult conversations were required to establish at which point during the construction process the errors were made. 

Being able to make real-time checks when responding to customer queries is paramount; the ability to clarify the report of a plot being flooded or a set of boundary lines that have been installed incorrectly by accessing the portal live will undoubtedly add to a positive customer care experience.

Using drone surveys provided numerous benefits for our clients. 

Firstly, the use of drones allowed for a more detailed and accurate survey of the site. The high-resolution images and 3D models provided a level of detail that would not have been possible with traditional surveying methods. This allowed our client to create a more accurate site map, which was essential for planning and design, enhancing their ability to monitor progress and identify errors.

“ The data provided from drone surveys is much more inclusive giving you options to take any dimensions that you require: measuring stockpiles within seconds, checking overland flood routes using the liquid drop analysis and forming cut and fill predictions throughout the life of the project. These functions are not possible with the traditional topographical survey without additional software packages”
Senior Engineer

Secondly, drone surveys were much faster and more cost-effective than traditional surveying methods – the survey was completed in a fraction of the time it would have taken using traditional methods, which saved our client both valuable time and money.

Finally, using drone surveys also increased safety on the construction site. The drone was able to capture images and data from a safe distance, reducing the need for workers to enter potentially hazardous areas which improved safety conditions for workers on the site. Our client prides themself on ‘unwavering focus on operational execution’ which is easily achieved when monitoring the progress of the build through drone data. Robust and credible evidence-based findings will assist in convincing the wider team to embrace the change in surveying, and will only reap benefits in reducing workload, assuring a quality service and eliminating long-term cost implications.

“Being able to explore the drone data in a multitude of ways removes the guesswork and reliance upon accuracy from third parties; the ability to make live checks whilst on-site via the online app is revolutionary”
Senior Engineer
Cut and Fill Analysis

Regular drone survey data enabled our client to manage cut and fill analysis more accurately before commencing construction and after every subsequent survey with just A FEW CLICKS. accurate site map, which was essential for planning and design, enhancing their ability to monitor progress and identify errors.

Drone Surveying plays a pivotal role in this process by generating our client’s essential 3D cut and fill files. Our methodology involves transforming finished floor-level files into a comprehensive 3D surface that encompasses the entire site design. By incorporating construction design depths for various elements such as plots, driveways, footpaths, and drainage, we create an exhaustive earthworks model that can be used to calculate cut and fill for the entire site or individual plots.

Utilising services from Drone Surveying will inevitably save you time and money

By uploading these files to our drone data portal, our client’s can effortlessly calculate the necessary cut-and-fill requirements before initiating construction and continuously monitor progress throughout the project. Additionally, they can check any level on-site to verify both accuracy in the position and alignment with the as-built finish. Regular surveys were conducted throughout the project, with meticulous collection and analysis of data, including comparisons against previous surveys. This rigorous process ensured that earthwork operations stayed on course and aligned with budget constraints.

With our comprehensive approach to surveying and data analysis, clients will no longer need to rely solely on contractors to estimate earth requirements on sites, putting you firmly in control of all earth movement, ensuring our clients avoided any unexpected and costly errors during the build process.

3D formation surface
Cut and fill analysis
3D Engineers model
Stockpile Volumetrics

Facilitated by Drone Surveying’s technology, stockpile measurements have transformed the way our clients manage their site operations.

100 million points of accurate data are captured from each survey with the accurate measuring of earth and earth movements across the whole site.

Post-survey, measurements of all stockpiles on site are generated using online portal tools. 

Each stockpile is accurately measured to a baseline calculation which gives the cubic volume; in-house engineers will then rename each stockpile with a description of its make-up (top-soil, sub-soil) including additional information to define the current location and direction as to where the earth will be used. 

This fully supports the Material Management Plan (MMP) for the site.

To enhance workflows , visual reports are generated directly from the portal with a full description of the volume of each stockpile allowing teams to monitor the earthworks strategy across site.

 A CAD file of each stockpile is exported to file as a digital record of earthworks on site.

Drone surveys have transformed the land surveying process for house builders.

By providing real-time data and high-resolution imaging, drone surveys enable commercial, technical and construction teams to gather in-depth information on topography and infrastructure, which can identify errors, guide decision-making and enhance project workflows in turn, providing numerous cost savings on their developments. In addition, the use of advanced technologies like LiDAR and photogrammetry in drone surveys produces a wealth of data that was previously unattainable through traditional surveying methods. Moving forward, discussions will take place with our client’s Directors to adopt drone surveys as standard across all regions.

“Very often in trades, workers and the larger team can be reluctant to see change; the phrase ‘because it’s always been done that way’ will only undermine a company’s ability to innovate and adapt within a fast-moving sector such as construction”.
Senior Engineer
Overall, drone surveys are becoming a crucial tool in the housebuilding sector and offer numerous invaluable advantages allowing teams to take complete control of their sites from the adoption of land to the handover of the final plot.

YOUR PARTNER IN PRECISION 

Call 01922 214910 
Email info@dronesurveying.co.uk 
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