The commercial use of drones continues to expand across a number of industries—from transportation, to energy and infrastructure, to manufacturing, construction, and agriculture. Drones offer a tool to access and assess physical conditions, minimize risks, and enhance employee efficiency during job tasks that are otherwise:
- Routine/time consuming
- Difficult to accomplish (i.e., high safety risk, exposure to hazardous materials that could result in injury or death)
- Challenging to reach/excessively large (i.e., working at heights or in confined spaces)
When implemented appropriately, using drones often results in a solution that is:
- Faster – Significantly reduce manhours to complete work (e.g., inspections, audits, monitoring) and without requiring plant shutdown
- Safer – Eliminate the need for humans to complete high-risk activities (e.g., climbing towers, entering confined spaces, inspecting disaster zones)
- More accurate – Gather comprehensive and reliable data with less room for human error and less variablility
Drone technology is evolving rapidly, but the industry is in its early stages. That creates many questions regarding regulations, equipment, applicability, and how drones can best help meet an organization’s specific goals.
- Drones capture huge amounts of data (pictures, videos, flight logs), and all data created are discoverable. Record retention laws are forthcoming for drone footage and vary by state. How should data be managed and turned into insights and actions?
- Laws and regulations are constantly evolving. Pilots can unknowingly (and easily) violate FAA regulations. How can companies keep current on regulatory changes and remain compliant?
- Most drone service providers are startups and heavily skilled in either the flight, hardware, or software areas, but lack the business management experience that well-established companies look for in a service providers. How can companies ensure they have a well-rounded approach?
- The UAS industry is growing quickly (commercial and recreational). The number of licensed pilots is increasing and businesses are creating new content/software/procedures daily. How do companies keep up?
- Many larger companies operating drones tend to understaff their drone program efforts and suffer unnecessary setbacks. What does it take to build a sustainable industrial drone program?
- Specialized expertise is required to develop and operate a successful drone program—in airspace knowledge and IT development skills. How do companies ensure they have the right resources?
Drone Program Strategy
Kestrel’s experienced consultants help companies work through these challenges, determine applicability based on needs, and then develop the most appropriate strategy and implementation process. Our objective is to help companies answer the difficult questions about designing and implementing a drone program to ensure it brings sustained value to the overall business. These decision-point questions may include the following:
- Hire pilots or train existing employees?
- What size and type of unmanned aircraft to use?
- Use drones as a temporary solution or as permanent business process?
- Outsource or fully staff a drone program?
- How do drones fit into existing organizational structure?
- What impact can drones have on company safety metrics?
Kestrel’s drone program management services include the following:
- Drone program strategy and design
- Management systems structure
- Gap analysis
- Program management
- Document management
- Data analytics strategy
- Data management (images, videos, logs)
- Operating standards
- Emergency procedures
- Training program management
- Pilot training and skills tracking
- Regulatory requirements and compliance
- Equipment maintenance management
- Supplemental UAS training for internal staff tailored to company policies and procedures
- Equipment-specific UAS training materials
- Software needs analysis/recommendations
- Coaching on writing waivers and authorizations to the FAA