The use of commercial drones to conduct inspections can significantly improve business operations across industries. These inspections increase precision, provide safer options for the workforce and drive efficiency. According to Quadintel, the global drone inspection and monitoring market was $7.47 billion in 2021 and will grow to $35.15 billion by 2030. This blog examines five industries that benefit from the fast-growing technology of commercial drone usage.
1. Infrastructure and construction
Infrastructure is critical for a society and an economy, but some of the world’s most industrialized countries face crumbling infrastructure, especially aging bridges. In the US, 1 in 3 bridges needs repair or replacement. In Japan, the number of aging bridges that restrict traffic tripled between 2008 and 2019. In the UK, over 3,200 bridges need repairs.
Traditional bridge inspections are tedious and require extensive human effort, but the use of drones piloted with artificial intelligence has the potential to save our crumbling infrastructure. Drones simplify the challenging task of inspecting and maintaining critical structures like bridges. In the construction industry, drones can validate that construction is in line with blueprints, and they can measure, transmit and store data for civil or structural surveys. Infrastructure managers can use drones to create a digital twin of the building or infrastructure to allow for faster decision-making and communication between various departments in large construction projects.
2. Search and rescue operations
Time is of the essence when searching for people who are injured or lost in the wilderness. Drones equipped with thermal imaging, zoom cameras, and lights can fly quickly over large distances to find lost hikers and guide them home. The Mountain Rescue Association of North America estimates that 80% of its members use drones as a critical tool in the search-and-rescue process.
3. Energy, utilities, and resources
Oil and gas enterprises and utility firms traditionally use helicopters to inspect refineries, offshore rigs, and power lines. Replacing helicopters with drones makes these tasks more cost-effective and sustainable. Many renewable energy companies use drones and zoom cameras to inspect solar panels and wind turbines. The mining industry now sends drones to inspect open stopes, which reduces the risk to human life. In these industries, drone usage is a part of business operations that increases efficiency and safety.
4. Insurance claims
When natural weather conditions devastate people’s homes and properties, drones can help insurance companies manage the deluge of claims. For example, a drone can inspect a home before the insurance company sends an adjustor to assess a roof damage claim. This streamlined process saves time and money for insurance companies. In a connected use, individuals who provide roof repair services can use drone imagery to show the owner the condition of their roof and to discuss plans for restoration.
5. Agriculture and agribusiness
Before drones, farmers manually inspected their fields, which could take days. Hundreds of acres of crops were at risk of damage during this lengthy process. With drones, farmers can now get an instant view of crop problems and focus on the remedy. Similar to utility and energy firms, large agricultural businesses can monitor their assets from above to ensure that shutdowns for repairs can be reduced to a minimum.
As commercial drones are deployed across the globe for inspections, drone relevance grows across multiple industries. Drone inspections increase accuracy, drive efficiency and protect the workforce. We can expect more industries to adopt these tools to maximize their business operations as drone technology progresses in the coming years.