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Dirt Simple Stories

Top 10 Reasons to Use Drones on Earthwork Projects

Is drone data really that helpful for dirt contractors? We think so and here are 10 ways you can use it –

1) Validate Existing Conditions

A drone point cloud can quickly be compared to the original ground map used to bid the job to evaluate if anything has changed since the existing ground survey. Plus, the high resolution orthophoto documents the site so both you and the project owner can truly see current conditions.

2) Estimate Demolition Quantities

Once you’ve imported your drone map into Gradework 4D, you can use it to quantify and validate demolition quantities on existing buildings, asphalt, concrete, and vegetation. Or, use drone data to fill in where demo plans are incomplete or unavailable.

Drone data shows demo quantities for existing buildings

3) Site Organization and Planning

You can fly a site much faster than you can do a GPS topo and the drone data gives you a more detailed point cloud and aerial photo so that you can accurately haul plan, identify balance regions, and know where to stockpile materials.

4) Keeping Score – Quantify Earthwork Progress

Progress happens quickly and drone data will help you track it without tying up your GPS system. Compare your updated map to the existing ground survey (or your last drone flight) to see how much dirt you have moved to date or to your subgrade model to see how much you have left to do.

Drone Orthomosaic with Earthwork Cut–Fill Map Overlay in Gradework4D

5) Visual Inspection

You know the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words”? Well it is just as true for jobsite documentation, progress monitoring, and haul route verification. You can also take visual inspection to the next level by measuring lengths, areas, and counts – both for what’s in place and for what remains – to easily assess and quantify material procurement needs.

6) Collaboration, Communication, Documentation

Drone data can be shared with the owner, designer, engineer, and project team allowing for streamlined communication, even with those who are not able to be present on site. It improves internal communication because the data is easily relayed between the office and field through AGTEK’s SmartDirt mobile app.  And, the point cloud data and photographs create clear documentation of site conditions for use in change order negotiations, claims, and disputes

SmartDirt Mobile App Measuring a Cut–Fill Area

7) Stockpile Quantities and Quarry Management

Drones make it quick and most importantly safe to get very accurate stockpile volumes or quarry inventory quantities.

8) Independent Grade Checks

Measure twice, cut (or fill!) once.

Jobsite Photo with Drone and Ground Control Point

9) Progress Updates and Project As–Builts

Use Gradework 4D to share the current drone map with owners, developers, and your project team. AGTEK makes it easy to export kmz files which can be opened in GoogleEarth or in your AGTEK mobile apps to use onsite. Once the project it complete, you can use the drone to capture as-built information and clearly identify utility tie in points and other relevant information for the follow-on contractor or project owner.

Orthomosaic Drone Image in Gradework

10) Drone Data + Equipment Tracks

When you combine your drone data with equipment tracks you can really start analyzing production because you can measure what has changed, and see why! Sign up for our next webinar to learn more.

SmartTrack Showing Equipment Tracks

Questions? Want to learn more?

Contact us and we will be happy to help!