To drone or not to drone that is the question. Drones are not new but they are still up and coming when it comes to fields like maintenance. Facility managers deal with the daily task of making sure their assets and facilities are working at tip top condition. Would managers be better equipped using drones instead of technicians?
There’s pros and cons to any situation, so let’s take a look at how drones could benefit facilities and the drawbacks.
How Can Drones Benefit Your Facility?
Facility maintenance in general is evolving in the way technicians inspect and document assets. We are moving from paper and pen to computerized software and automation where a machine can detect an error that isn’t humanly possible to track with the mounds of data that is computed.
Drones are said to aid technicians in checking assets in hard to reach places faster. Every maintenance and engineering manager wrestles with these areas, such as roofs, outside vents, or even cracks in the top of the foundation.
They are hard to access, show signs of major problems, and may have not been properly addressed in months or even years. Technicians can’t reach them safely and aerial work platforms are expensive and a potential hazard to workers, so the drone comes into play.
New applications are expanding daily for commercial drones, and these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) allow technicians to get a full view of the problem without having to physically see it themselves.
Drones could also help assist technicians with their daily task list if the job consists of hard to reach places or areas that are unsafe for the technician to avoid injury.
Drawbacks with Drones and Maintenance
There are existing issues from the FAA and local jurisdictions on where drones can be utilized, so this would pose as a primary concern for building owners.
Secondly, the cost of a commercial drone can be anywhere from $1,000-$1,500 minimum to launch a drone. This combined with a skilled worker to be able to navigate the drone properly can be a steep bill.
There are technical mechanisms to consider too including, weather conditions and the strength and clarity of GPS signals. The inability to take a proper picture due to lighting or interference with other signals flying over makes it more time consuming to do the job in the first place.
If a drone doesn’t complete the task quicker than an engineer, is there a justifiable reason to use it at the cost it’s at right now?
Technicians and CMMS
The ability to track your assets quickly and effectively is the bread and butter to any properly functioning facility.
Drones I believe in the future will be a better aid to technicians in the improvements of safety for workers, aerial views of assets, and even 3-D projections of assets.
However, I do think that technicians have the upper hand by being able to assess the situation with an asset, document it with computerized software, and then figure out the right course of action where it may take a drone ten times to get the right picture for diagnosis.
The right solution for a technician is a CMMS. By implementing a CMMS into your facility, you can preserve assets, keep things running in optimum condition, and help insure that assets will have maximum life expectancy.
This system will also help manage anticipated failures allowing your staff to budget and plan, while still saving time and money in the short and long term.
CMMS takes the guess work out of the equation for technicians by tracking all work, documenting failures and successes of assets, and figuring out next steps to keep the facility running properly.