CASE STUDY: Drones accelerate complex tower block inspections

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In the last five years, drones have been making their presence felt across the economic landscape from agriculture and architecture to environmental monitoring and supporting the emergency services.

They have been adopted so easily in so many markets because they are a fast, cost effective and safe alternative to traditional methods of working. And they have proven themselves to be effortlessly adaptable to any natural or built environment.

Wherever drones go next, and we’re sure it will be far and wide, one of the original uses for this technology was in building inspections, a use that is more pertinent than ever in the post-Grenfell landscape.

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There is a huge challenge facing the UK Government and property managers up and down the country, to inspect and survey the nation’s high-rise residential buildings to ensure they are safe, secure and fit for purpose.

It’s a daunting task but one that can be tackled quickly, effectively and at a vastly reduced cost with the support of drone technology.

THE PROBLEM

The Grenfell Tower tragedy has exposed the vulnerability of thousands of blocks of flats up and down the country. That vulnerability lies almost entirely within the use of cladding that was applied to improve heating and energy efficiency and to improve the appearance of buildings, many of which had been constructed in the 60s and 70s.

CLADDING

While the use of cladding may have delivered on those needs, the Grenfell fire showed just how dangerous the use of certain types of cladding is. Every single block of flats in the country that has been cladded has to be surveyed and inspected to understand the risk profile of each one.

Which creates a huge challenge for the Government and property managers. An estimated 1,700 high rise blocks of flats have to be surveyed and the cladding removed to make them safe to live in. And they need to do it quickly.

TRADITIONAL METHODS

The Government has pledged billions to facilitate this nationwide structural survey but the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has estimated that as large as this fund is, it will only be enough to repair a third of the properties currently considered unsafe.

The reason? A huge chunk of that cost is because the traditional method of inspecting high rise buildings is to erect scaffolding around the structure, a process that takes months to complete and costs on average £250,000 per building.

TECHNOLOGY-LED METHODS

But there is another way, a way that is led by, facilitated and completed by drone technology. A method that could reduce the cost of inspection by a factor of 100. Sound too good to be true? It’s not, it’s reality and we are helping clients across the country bring those theoretical savings to life.

THE SOLUTION

Like anything in life, there is no quick-fire solution to the UK’s high-rise living problem. But with a little creative thinking and the smart application of technology, a real difference can be made to the way we approach it. Which is exactly what Iprosurv has been doing with our property management clients.

WHY DRONES

Put simply, drones are a faster, cheaper and safer way to conduct surveys at height but their ability to provide the necessary data digitally, in a secure fashion, means that they can deliver a high-quality result in days, rather than the months the traditional method requires.

INSPECTING THE BUILDING

While the drone does the hard work, our clients still have to bring their expertise to bear in analysing the drone data and planning the next steps. And we make that as simple or detailed as necessary with the creation of our interactive, 3D models.

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