POB Column: Define Your UAS Operations

Many surveyors purchase a drone and start using it without ever considering the importance of having clearly-defined operations -- goals, procedures that ensure those goals are accomplished with a minimum of risk or loss, and training to ensure staff are competent at following those procedures.

In our most recent article in Point of Beginning, we cover the 3 operations areas that need to be optimized for a drone surveying program to be as successful as possible:

  1. Safety
  2. Legality
  3. Profitability

Even those companies that start drone surveying and do think of safety and legality often miss the importance of optimizing operations for profit. We regularly see drone surveying programs that leave money on the table. Our complete drone mapping system optimizes for all three of these operational needs simultaneously.

Read an excerpt from the article on this step below, or the full article on the POB website. To learn more about our approach to drone mapping, visit the Aerotas Mapping System page.


3) Profitability

The ultimate success of any drone mapping program is determined by its profitability. Unfortunately, many companies hamper their own potential profitability by not taking an operations-first approach to designing their drone program. We have heard from countless survey businesses that spent an enormous amount of money on the wrong equipment, then hundreds of hours trying to figure out the workflow to produce a sellable deliverable. When these companies look back on the cost of the hours they spent and the lost competitive time, they discover their total investment could take years to recoup.

One way to avoid this pitfall is to design a drone program by focusing on the operations, developing procedures, workflow and training to support those operations; and only then identifying the drone and software that most efficiently achieve those operational needs. Even small operational errors like forgetting to charge batteries or load memory cards quickly add up to significant lost time and money. Good operations planning prevents those minor errors.

The most common waste of money that we see is the time organizations spend trying to figure out what they are really trying to get out of their drone. Sending staff to the field without a comprehensively defined mission always results in wasted time and money. Then, spending weeks in the office trying to figure out how to produce a deliverable easily adds up to tens of thousands of dollars in man hours. Instead, a good drone program starts with a desired deliverable and then designs operations that facilitate that deliverable. Well-developed drone operations will start paying for themselves in the first mission, and many of our clients report their drone investment pays off within six projects.