News, views and opinions from the UK roofing industry

Drones could save construction £3.5bn

PwC report highlights improved productivity from the increasing use of drones but there needs to be a focus on safe and appropriate use

The report published today (29 May 2018) by accountancy firm PwC forecasts cost savings of £3.5bn across the construction and manufacturing sectors by 2030, resulting in increased productivity of 3.1%. PwC also predicts a potential uplift to GDP, within these sectors of 1.6% or £8.6bn from the use of just under 5,000 drones.

“Drones have the potential to offer a powerful new perspective for businesses across a variety of industries, delivering both productivity benefits and increased value from the data they collect," said Elaine Whyte, UK drones leader at PwC.

However, she said that regulation covering the use of drones needed to “advance” to help industries realise the potential of their use and welcomed the government’s draft Drones Bill.

A recent drone accident on a construction highlights, for example, issues around safety. As reported in Construction Enquirer earlier this year, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) was called in when a drone hit a crane on a site in Kent. The AAIB report said the drone pilot “had not taken into account the addition of a new crane.”

This is why the NFRC teamed up with the Association of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (ARPAS) to produce guidance on the safe and legal use of drones. In an article published in Roofing Today in January 2018, Mike Wharton, NFRC’s Head of Business Development said:

“As drone technology is constantly changing, we feel it prudent to advise our members of the latest legislation to ensure they operate drones safely, legally and within the parameters of that risk. In doing so, we are seeking to avoid a situation where a contractor simply buys suitable equipment, drives out to site and starts using it. In doing so, there is a very high chance that contractors will be ignoring the relevant guidance and breaking the law as a consequence”.

The NFRC/ARPAS guidance can be accessed by NFRC members in the members area of the NFRC website (login required).