Key Considerations When Launching a Drone Programme
Updated: Jul 22, 2022
The drone industry is booming.
Through drones, your businesses can gain valuable insights, as well as reduce risk, decrease costs, increase efficiency, and save money. With drone technology, businesses are expanding operations, extending reach and capability, and improving operational efficiency.
Drone technology and regulations are rapidly evolving, so launching a drone program is no small undertaking. In this article, we'll look at the key considerations when launching a drone programme.
Understand the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for your UAS program
Depending on your industry, you must analyze and define the KPIs to measure success.
For instance, in order to better compete with other firms on price and turn-around time, a civil engineering or surveying firm may keep track of profitability per job, time to delivery, and the number of contracts won.
However, electrical utilities might be more interested in improving SAIDI (System Average Interruption Duration Index) or completing additional work-orders each month after launching its UAS program. Every industry is different and it's important to understand what success looks like for you. You can only improve what you measure!
Improve your data quality by investing in software
With great drone software, you can capture high-quality data for asset mapping & inspections. Select from over 15+ mission types & automate every aspect of your missions, including the drone and camera settings, plan missions, create automated flight plans for the drone to follow.
Taking the time to find the right software for your needs pays off. Platforms are continually advancing, and while some are optimized for specific industries, like energy, there are other platforms that offer end-to-end solutions for drone operations.
Hammer Missions falls into the latter category. Inspection data can be collected for a variety of infrastructure assets, including roofs, facades, powerlines, towers, solar panels, wind turbines, and more. This data can then be analysed to detect faults, defects and anomalies, helping organisations to better manage critical infrastructure assets and take pre-emptive decisions based on analytical insights.
What type of equipment do you need?
There are various types of drones available, like small quadcopters, mid-sized quadcopters, large quadcopters, fixed-wing aircraft, single-rotor helicopters.
Different types of drones have different body styles that affect the amount of weight they can carry (payload), efficiency, and duration of the flight.
1. Fixed-Wing Drones
Suitable for long flights, such as corridor mapping. Drones with fixed wings use a runway or catapult to lift off the ground instead of the vertical takeoff capability of drone models using rotors for flight. These drones are also more difficult to land because they cannot hover.
Fixed-wing aircraft are more often flown for long-distance tasks or as a hobby. Unless other electronic equipment is attached to the aircraft, they can stay airborne for long hours without recharging their batteries.
A drone of this type requires quite a bit more drone flying experience and training, especially when taking off and landing.
2. Multi-Rotor Drones
Multiple-rotor drones with propellers and rotors were created for vertical takeoff and landing. Propellers, if you weren't aware, are the tiny wings or blades that make a drone fly. This is similar to what a helicopter would have. The propellers are spun by the rotor. A helicopter has only one rotor, whereas a drone has multiple rotors. They usually have four, six or eight rotors, with four rotors being the most common for small to regular sized drones.
Let’s look at different types of Multi-Rotor Drones in more detail, and see which is best suited for your needs.
Small Quadcopters are Portable, lightweight, and are great for inspections.
A mid-grade quadcopter is the workhorse of the drone world. They have larger batteries that allow them to fly longer. Using a good pilot, they can do a combination of inspections and mappings.
Big quadcopters are capable of carrying heavy payloads, such as the Phase One P3 Payload, designed to maximize the productivity of inspection projects where time, safety, and image quality are imperative to success.
As an example, let's look at façade inspections. The best type of drone you can use is a quadcopter rather than a fixed-wing drone because fixed-wing drones can't hover or fly straight up. Or, when mapping larger areas, you may require a drone that has a longer battery life and perhaps a larger overall size, such as a quadcopter or a fixed-wing drone.
In addition, you might be restricted to using or avoiding certain drones. When it comes to mapping and surveying contracts, DJI drones could be a good fit for your company. Make sure you do your research before making a decision.
Train Your New Pilots
Your industry may be relatively new to drone programs, so you might consider whether you need to train your existing team or outsource to an established UAS team.
Training existing employees or hiring and training new pilots with experience is a popular option for drone programs.
To train and certify commercial drone pilots, there are two primary methods. To begin with, you can send pilots to a drone pilot school or training program. They will cover use cases, practical skills, FAA (applicable to US drone programs), CAA (applicable to UK drone programs) safety regulations and more in their training program. They will receive a certificate of completion at the end of the program.
As an alternative, you can hire an established company with a team of drone operators for a short period of time or contract a licensed drone operator.
We hope this post has provided you with an insight into launching your UAS programme
As we explored above, drone technology and regulations are rapidly evolving, so launching a drone program is no small undertaking.
To learn more about our enterprise solutions, including mission collaboration, flight analytics and more please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org