Drone Corner | Accurate inspections and data capture

Drone Corner | Accurate inspections and data capture

Grace Hammond, Account Manager at Vantage UAV — the NHF preferred drone services supplier — drills down on the cost benefits of drones and how they make a difference to safe and accurate inspection and data collection.

The costs of repairs and maintenance are significant across social housing. A recent report from Mis Active Management Systems (2021)* found the average annual spend on repairs and maintenance was £1,579 per property. This totalled a whopping £5.51bn annual spend across English housing associations in 2020.

With maintenance costs rapidly increasing, easily accessible, accurate and cost-effective data capture is considered one of the best property management tools, and yet until now, it has been underused and overpriced. Drones are changing this dynamic, with providers offering safer, faster, smarter, asset management solutions.

Valuable inspection tool
The flexibility, accuracy and access that drones can offer is unparalleled, making them a valuable inspection tool. These benefits were demonstrated in the case of St Luke’s Church, one of Yorkshire Housing’s stock. Carried out by Vantage UAV and supported by Connected Places Catapult, St Luke’s Church underwent an entire drone roof and façade inspection to gain a full overview of the property’s condition.

With previous traditional inspections leading to recommendations that a full roof replacement was necessary, at an advised cost of circa £350,000 along with a timeframe of three to six months, Vantage UAV were brought in to provide further insight into the roof condition. Due to the complexity of the building, along with safety issues relating to roof access, with the tallest part of the building measuring 50m, an assessment of the roof condition without the use of drones was limited.

Traditional inspection methods provided a cost of circa £80,000 to fully assess the roof condition, involving a combination of cherry pickers, scaffolding and steeplejacks. Instead, Yorkshire Housing opted for an innovative solution, employing drones to collect detailed photogrammetry, 4k videos and create a 3D model of the building.

Vantage UAV collected the data within two days and drastically reduced the safety risks associated with the data collection process by removing the need to work from height. The drone inspection enabled the identification of a variety of issues across the entire building, such as; broken and missing tiles, vegetation ingress and poor flashing condition. The detailed assessment showed that only certain areas of the roof needed attention. Despite the inspection covering a significant area, the 3D model gave evidence for a reduced cost of work at circa £50-60,000, providing a total saving of circa £300,000.

Following the inspection, the data and outputs generated were hosted on a viewing platform, which supports high resolution remote inspections, annotations and millimetre accurate measuring capabilities. From this, reports can be generated and shared, providing evidence for required works.

The data collected at St Luke’s, provided Yorkshire Housing with a detailed overview of the building’s condition, allowing an informed decision to be made in a quicker period of time. Andy Gamble, Executive Director Growth & Assets at Yorkshire Housing, attested to the large maintenance cost savings the drone inspection created, whilst also reducing the associated time, risk and inconvenience to tenants.

Many organisations are deploying drones as an inspection tool to help make smarter decisions when it comes to overall asset management and repairs. The cost savings demonstrated in the St Luke’s case study highlight the benefits this technology can bring to the sector, resulting in a proactive and cost-effective approach, which mitigates risk and streamlines workflows.

* https://www.mis-ams.com/blog-post?id=176

For more information on ARPAS-UK visit www.arpas.uk

For more information on Connected Places Catapult visit https://cp.catapult.org.uk/

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