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BIM & Drones

by Fabio Affortunato
Architettura BIM Droni
Reading time / Tempo lettura : 3 minutes / minuti

The contribution of drones to BIM

BIM and drones. A still superficial link between a methodology that is acquiring an increasingly strategic role in construction and the drone as a tool for verification and control. Let’s explore the aspects of a scenario that could be strategic.

What’s BIM for?

BIM or Building Information Modeling is a methodology for the optimization, planning and construction of buildings, through software tools.

The methodology is therefore used for the design and construction of major works, infrastructures, urban spaces. The role of BIM in construction is to improve, optimize and manage a project throughout its entire life cycle (design, construction, maintenance, demolition).

BIM and drones – Desirable partnership

By focusing on the construction, maintenance and demolition phases, it is immediate to understand that in the BIM process, alongside the design and non-design software tools, there are reasons to be drones, intended as verification tools.

BIM and drones must in fact be considered as elements of the equation:

BIM : methodology = Drones : quality

The methodology to operate and govern a process requires control points (milestones). The verification of milestones takes place via check list, walkthrough or on the basis of data.

The data can be of various kinds, especially in the construction sector: images, volumes,% of completion, etc. These data and others can be purchased via drone with high standards of precision and speed of acquisition.

Costruzione Visto dal Drone

Construction Seen by Drone – Source pixabay.com free for commercial use – Author MichaelGaida

Beyond the simple image

To date, we have been led to think that the use of drones in the BIM field means only aerial photogrammetry. Nothing more limiting.

The use of a drone in fact allows you to acquire, without particular difficulties:

  • Volumes and areas;
  • Georeferenced images and data;
  • Design misalignments;
  • Realization criticalities;
  • Monitoring work / construction site;
  • Topographical update;
  • Documentation of variations during construction;
  • Inventory and asset management.

IM and drones can therefore cooperate both for the construction and construction of a work but also and above all for the creation of an information database for the management of the life cycle of the work. This going far beyond the images.

From construction to maintenance and decommissioning

One of the most controversial and complex aspects relating to the management of the building heritage and infrastructures is that relating to the availability of the data of the work. Design documents, description of the materials and methods used for the construction, construction details, variations in progress, etc., are often unknown. Therefore, if implemented and managed correctly, BIM resolves the chronic lack of data.

BIM and drones then, can facilitate the carrying out of the steps following the realization or its maintenance and divestment of the work.

Knowing the materials, the critical issues, the variations made during the work, the materials used and the techniques used to put them in place, are the necessary inputs for carrying out correct and profitable maintenance.

The precise documentation of the construction methods, the important structural details and the impromptu solutions used on site, will certainly facilitate the planning of the activities for the disposal of the work at the end of its life cycle.

Demolizione edifico - BIM e droni

Building demolition – Source pixabay.com free for commercial use – Author Geralt

Economic developments and business opportunities

As exposed, BIM and drones, together, can therefore create interesting economic developments and encourage business opportunities that have not yet been fully explored.

Drone and payload manufacturers

On the one hand, the manufacturers of professional drones and payloads (sensors and cameras), should look more closely at this partnership, developing solutions aimed at collecting data for BIM.

Software developers

Software houses should think of solutions that integrate and facilitate the bi-directional exchange of data between BIM and drones, with open solutions capable of reading the data collected by drones.

In this regard, it is worth highlighting that an excellent solution in this sector is offered by the professional software created by Pix4D. Specific for BIM through drones, the Pix4DBim software, allows you to perform a complete and detailed 2D / 3D mapping, as well as immediate measurements of surfaces and volumes, also the immediate comparison between different temporal situations. More information on this software is available in the data sheet available at this link.

Engineers, drone pilots and experts

Insiders, engineers, project managers, drone pilots, for their part, should consider more carefully the opportunities related to the systematic use of drones as multipurpose tools whose use in BIM may require more specialized skills.

Finally the acquisition of data via drone for BIM would finally represent a formidable push for a profitable use of Aerial data.

Note relating to images: The images showed in the article are taken from pixabay.com, and are free for commercial use, with no attribution request. Each image however mentions the author who is its legitimate owner. The use of the images is exclusively for the purpose of a better understanding of the contents of the article. The highlighted image – taken from pixabay.com – is from Pexels.

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Last Updated on/Ultimo aggiornamento – 28/07/2020

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