The Future of Drones in Precast

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones are a special type of aircraft, guided either by remote control or by an onboard computer.

Originally, their use was strictly for military combat and reconnaissance functions. In the last decade, their popularity has exploded and continues to expand beyond the consumer industry. With the costs of drones falling and technology rapidly improving, commercial and manufacturing industries are developing drones and incorporating them for use in their businesses

A good example is the recent introduction of Amazon Prime Air, where drones are used in the final stage of fulfillment – to delivering packages directly to the consumer’s address!

With drone technology offering massive benefits across many business sectors, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is predicting a massive boom in the drone technology industry with market size expanding from $2 billion in 2016 to $127 billion in 2020.

So, you might ask what potential benefits can drones bring to the precast industry?

The Possibilities are Endless

With a push to automate, precast production processes are becoming more connected and intelligent with the most highly automated plants controlled by central master computer systems. It is logical for drones to fit into this scenario by using onboard computers that can integrate into the production system to carry out tasks at various stages of the process.

Regardless of the plant automation level, benefits are actively being explored in the following areas:
  • Inventory control
  • Quality control
  • Production surveillance and supervision
  • Plant safety – inspections
  • Material delivery

For example, using RFID technology, a drone can be used to quickly locate a precast part in the storage yard which would result in significant savings in travel time and searching for the inventory manager and yard staff.

With advancements in onboard cameras and VR headsets, a special drone can be used during the production of that part to assist the Quality Control manager to conduct visual pre-pour checks from his office.

Furthermore, imagine a plant where the production foreman can order consumable items via a tablet to be delivered just in time via drone from the stock room, eliminating travel time to and from the working area.

Drone technology continues to improve safety in the way of automatic collision avoidance, guidance and stability systems. However, special training and safety protocols would be a necessity when integrating drones into any factory environment.

What do you think? We’d love to find out how you see drones can potentially benefit your operations!
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