Why Do Drones Do Roof Inspections?
Did you know that drone roof inspections can save your business time and money? If you’re not already using drones for roof inspections, now is the time to start. Drones offer several advantages over traditional visual inspection methods, including speed, accuracy, and safety.
Roofs are some of the most difficult areas of industrial or commercial properties to inspect. They are often large and complex, making it challenging to get a comprehensive view without putting inspectors in danger. A drone inspection will give you an aerial view of the entire roof and if necessary, be used to inspect the internal condition as well so that you can identify potential problems quickly and efficiently.
It is important for an internal inspection, that a specialised drone can operate in a GPS-denied environment, preferably with an integrated lighting system, a thermal camera if required, and the capability to protect the asset and the drone from a collision.
Drone Commercial and Industrial Roof Inspections UK
With their ability to fly high above the ground, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones are an efficient and cost-effective means of conducting roof inspections. They can provide access to hard-to-reach, damaged or fragile roofs without the risk to inspectors from working at height, requiring scaffolding or mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs).
The high quality of the data captured by a commercial drone will provide a real-time understanding of the roof’s condition. This will enable you to make informed decisions about maintenance and repair works, target where to use scaffolding or other means of access, and identify potential health and safety issues.
Drones can also be equipped with specialised payloads such as LiDAR scanners, thermal cameras, and high-resolution and zoom cameras to allow the drone to inspect from a distance. This allows for a comprehensive inspection to be conducted that would otherwise not be possible.
For example, if there was a suspected leak in a hard-to-reach roof area, a drone equipped with a thermal camera, could quickly and easily identify the source of a leak without putting anyone in harm’s way. A qualified thermographer would then be able to analyse the data, looking for thermal anomalies.
What Type of Sensors Can Be Fitted To A Drone and Why Does it Matter?
It’s all about the data right? The correct choice of drone and sensor to acquire the data is what will be the difference between a poor or great result. For roof inspections, various types of sensors can be fitted to the drone. The most popular are high-resolution cameras, thermal imaging cameras, and LiDAR scanners.
Each of these sensors has its advantages and disadvantages. What data you require to meet your project’s requirements will be a deciding factor in sensor selection for the drone company providing this service. For instance, high-resolution cameras will provide high-quality detailed images of the roof surface but will not be able to detect defects that are hidden behind obstacles. Thermal imaging cameras can identify thermal anomalies and potential problems. While light detecting and ranging (LiDAR) scanners can gather data for 3D models quickly.
Drones with High-Resolution Cameras
High-resolution cameras are the most commonly used type of sensor. They provide detailed images and 4K video of the roof surface and any other objects that may be on the roof, such as detritus, air-conditioning, rooflights and whether gutters are blocked.
The main advantage of using high-resolution cameras is that they can capture a large amount of data quickly and are relatively inexpensive compared to other types of sensors, which results in a cheaper inspection.
Drones with Thermal Cameras
A thermal imaging camera records the intensity of radiation in the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum and converts it to a visible image.
Thermal imaging cameras for thermal roof inspections are a powerful and non-invasive tool for monitoring and diagnosing the condition of the roof and are one of the most valuable tools for roof inspections.
- A thermal imaging drone can be used to confirm if an atrium is airtight.
- Detect missing or underperforming insulation.
- Find moisture in roof insulation.
- Inspect roof-mounted solar panels.
- Locate water infiltration in flat roofs.
Drones Fitted with LiDAR Scanners
Drones fitted with a LiDAR sensor for roof inspections are becoming more popular as the technology matures. The drone-mounted LiDAR system sends out laser pulses that bounce off the roof surface and return to the drone, creating a high-resolution image to provide data for 3D modelling.
This data can be used to identify defects such as cracks, holes, and missing tiles. In addition, LiDAR data can be used to generate reports that include measurements and other information about the roof’s condition.
An Internal Inspection Drone
The Elios 2 is designed for the inspection of hard-to-reach and hazardous areas such as chimneys, roof spaces, and ductwork. The drone has a 360-degree collision avoidance system that allows it to fly close to interior surfaces and other obstacles and has a carbon-fibre cage to protect the asset and the drone.
It is equipped with a 4k RGB camera, and a non-radiometric thermal camera and has 10k lumens integrated LED lights that allow it to operate in dark or poorly lit areas. This drone is designed for internal and confined space inspections and will acquire your data safer, compared to using a drone that is designed for airspace operations.
Drones for External Inspections
Quadcopters are popular for roof inspections because they can hover in place, making them ideal for taking close-up high-resolution images and 4K videos. Some quadcopters have the capability to have multiple sensors fitted for image, video and thermal inspection data gathering. The saying “different horses for different courses” is especially true here, and it’s all dependent on the scope of work.
A few examples:
Dji Mini 3 Pro – http://bit.ly/3JkbOKd
Dji Mavic 3 Classic – http://bit.ly/3yf8Y37
Dji Matrice 30 Series – http://bit.ly/3kQVMy8
How Do I Choose a Good Drone Roof Inspection Company?
Hiring a drone services company for a roof inspection is a cost-effective and efficient method for inspections, but it must be chosen carefully.
- Experience: Choose a drone services company with experience in roof inspections. This will ensure that they have the necessary expertise and equipment to carry out the inspection effectively.
- Qualifications: Does the company meet the legal requirement and have the mandatory qualifications, and authorisations, such as;
- Valid Operational Authorisation (OA) issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
- A valid General Visual Line of Sight Certificate (GVC) or equivalent.
- An A2 Certificate of Competency.
- Insurance: Does the drone services company have sufficient liability cover?
- Reputation: Read online reviews and check out their social media presence to get an idea of their reputation.
- Price: Make sure to get quotes from multiple companies before hiring one. Prices can vary widely, so it’s important to compare apples to apples when getting quotes. Buy cheap buy twice. There’s a reason reputable drone service providers can charge more for their services.
Drone Roof Inspections Cost-saving Opportunities
A drone inspection is a cost-effective and safer alternative to time-consuming traditional methods. This method can also provide manpower and associated cost savings compared to whether to scaffold or use MEWPs. Once the drone has performed the inspection, and the data has been reviewed, access equipment can be used more effectively in the correct areas for the maintenance requirements that have been identified.
The cost of a drone inspection will vary depending on the size of the roof and the level of inspection detail. Whether you require just imagery or video footage or a thermal survey. As a starting point, the cost for a drone company to provide industrial or commercial drone services will range from £750 to £1,500 for images and video, starting from £1500 for a thermal survey and £2200 for LiDAR.
Various factors affect the roof inspection cost, not limited to;
- What is the roof size?
- Are there multiple roofs?
- Is it a complex roof structure?
- Is it located rurally or in an urban environment?
- Are there any airspace restrictions which require special permission to operate?
- Can a single drone pilot perform the operation or does the pilot require assistance?
- Can the drone pilot/crew perform the drone flights in a single day?
Employing drones, you can inspect large commercial and industrial properties more efficiently and accurately than before, providing time and cost savings and removing the risk of working at height. The project deliverables will be a deciding factor for the choice of drone and sensor. A competent drone services company will advise and work with you to acquire the data your project requires. It’s all about the data! If you’re looking for a drone roof inspection service provider in the UK, call us today!