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From it´s military origins, the drone industry has grown rapidly. Forecasts show significant growth for years to come and new market opportunities are appearing everywhere you look.

Here a just a few of the things drones are being used for :

  • > Fire fighting
  • > Safety inspections
  • > Farming
  • > Border control
  • > Servicing ships
  • > Consumer deliveries
  • > Monitoring flood risk


What is all this worth ?

Spending has been strong to date and all the research we found indicates it will continue for some time.   This Goldman Sachs report shows that the estimated GLOBAL spend between 2017 and 2014 will be $40.5 billion (or approx. GBP 31.4 billion)

The UK share of this is expected to be $3.5 billion or approximately GBP 2.7 billion :

Global estimated spending on drones until 2021


Who are the top players ?

According to an article by the Motley Fool the biggest is DJI Innovations from China valued at $10 billion :

> 1. Chinese drone maker DJI Innovations

> 2. French company Parrot

> 3. American firm 3D Robotics

> 4. American firm PrecisionHawk


Drones and the construction industry

According to the same Goldman Sachs report, the value of the global addressable construction market is $11 billion or approx GBP 8.5 billion.  The UK will be a major part of this.

Whilst commercial use is smaller than that of the consumer market, the falling costs of historically expensive drones is encouraging more firms to invest.

The UK trade sector (construction / plumbing) came out top in a study on the top 10 business sectors utilising drones

Source: UK Drone Usage reporty by Drones Direct



Benefits of drone use in the construction sector

There are many benefits to using drones :

  • > Various technical equipment can be mounted
  • >Multiple vantage points at altitude are quickly available
  • > The cost is low compared to the alternatives in many cases (eg. aerial photography from a helicopter or plane)
  • > Many Jobs can be done in  much less time
  • > Inspection of hard to reach areas
  • > Safety and workflow surveys
  • > Digital photography and documentation
  • > Monitoring environmental factors
  • > Monitoring and improving worker safety


Potential negatives of drone use in the construction sector

Most of the information we see about drones tends to be positive but there maybe downsides too.

In an article by Gary Wilson, published on Builder & Engineer – areas to consider include  job losses (will they be balanced out by job creation?) and the potential impact on revenue streams.  Jobs that used to take weeks (for example complex surveying) can often be done in far less time. Many companies use day rates for people – but if a job is done in hours, will the revenue be impacted adversely if a different pricing model has to be used ?

Usage in the construction sector

We have been increasingly using drones on our projects to film the work and get a different perspective. Here is some footage from work we did with IBS Engineered Products Ltd

There are so many potential uses though, we are going to double down on this tech – they include :

  • > Aerial photography & video
  • > Site security and monitoring
  • > Safety inspections
  • > data analysis
  • > mapping
  • > 3D modeling




Drone use is becoming more tightly regulated and you need to make sure you are operating drones legally and safely.

Think about issues such as :

  • > Legal requirements
  • > Civil Aviation Authority requirements
  • > Safety requirements
  • > Data Protection Act
  • > Insurance
  • > Training


These articles are a great starting point (and there are more links at the bottom of the page) :



Some take – aways



Sources & Further Reading