In the December issue of Point of Beginning, Aerotas co-founders Logan Campbell and Daniel Katz explore a key issue faced by the land survey community: how to keep up with rapidly growing demand despite a shrinking workforce.
Since Aerotas works with surveyors across the United States, we have a unique perspective about the state of the industry nationwide. One theme has become increasingly clear over the course of 2017: there is a shortage of survey staff in nearly ever corner of the country. This has been true for several years now, but just now is it becoming an acute issue as the construction and development markets started booming again in 2017.
This dynamic is forcing survey teams nationwide to figure out how they can do more work, faster, with smaller teams. In this environment, efficiency is essential. In our POB article, we break down four key ways that drones are enabling savvy surveyors to grow their business without having to grow their workforce. Key among these is using smart, optimized drone operations and workflow to enable field crews to work much faster.
Grow Your Surveying Business Without Hiring
Do 5 times more surveys with the same field team
The right drone tool and the right operations can enable a survey team to say “yes” to five times as many projects without needing to hire a single additional field surveyor.
Surveyors we work with report completing the field work for many topographic, as-built and land title projects in 90-percent less time than if they had used conventional equipment. For example, a drone dramatically reduces the need for crews to walk slow grids for topographic mapping. Whereas proficient field surveyor can shoot 60 points an hour in the field, with the right software tools, the same 60 points would take less than a minute in the office.
All projects will still require some ground work — a drone is best thought of as one tool in a hybrid workflow. However, that fieldwork is reduced to setting ground control and collecting any shots that need to be tighter than 0.1’ accuracy or are not visible from the air — work that can be completed by a solitary surveyor rather than a multi-person crew. The drone can be relied on for the appropriate portions of a job, then merged with data collected from field tools in post-processing, thereby still offering huge time savings.
Saving time is nice, but what actually matters is the larger implication for the business. If a project that would normally take a week can now be completed in less than a day, that means the field team can now complete as many as five projects in the time it would have taken to complete one. What’s more, this tool does not require hiring for a new role. Though operating a drone involves a new skill set, it does not require hiring a specialized operator. Comparable to becoming a car driver, with moderate professional training, we make a safe, reliable drone pilot of even the most technically unsavvy field surveyor.