Drone as a Service or In-house Drone Team: How to decide what is right for You?
The era of drones has opened up various opportunities and high level of efficiencies in various sectors of the economy. It is not only a powerful gadget but also an incredibly versatile industrial tool with a wide range of applications. Drones are now used extensively in the Mining Industry, Solar Industry, Infrastructure, Utilities, and Inspections for a plethora of use cases.
Also Read: Drones in Mining : A Tech Upgrade
Let us explore some pointers one should consider before deciding Drone as a service or In-house Drone team.
Factors to Consider:
Frequency of the Survey
Whether to set up an in-house drone team or hire a drone service provider, depends solely on the frequency of surveys of the mines. If surveys conducted are quite frequent, for example; some mines require regular data acquisition for monitoring their mine’s progress and plan areas to be blasted, etc. while others do not require a regular survey but a weekly survey or a monthly survey will suffice. In case of solar industries, they may require drone services once a week to monitor the functioning of the solar panels or might need a monthly survey to track the construction progress of the worksites.
Depending on the allocated budget of the company, one can decide whether to build in-house drone team or outsource the expertise. In a nutshell, building in-house drone team can offer more control over operations, however that’s a costly affair. One can opt for out-sourcing the Drone Survey to a service provider as the cost will be much lower than building an in-house team along which will additionally require all the different softwares and hardware.
Time & Resources
Time is a crucial factor for every business. Bandwidth optimization of operational activities is the primary aim. It requires a lot of time and effort to set up an in-house team. It is much hazard-free to hire a drone service provider to save time.
Photogrammetry and Drone Expertise
Photogrammetric knowledge of a drone pilot is the prime qualification that is wanted by every industry. From mission planning to data acquisition (DA), fleet management, and finally data processing (DP), it requires expertise. Data acquisition through the DGPS survey, placing the Ground Control Points (GCP) at proper intervals, and obtaining the most accurate error-free data is the basic structure upon which the industry will function.
Setting up an in-house drone team will not be fruitful if use-case expertise is not kept in mind while hiring team members. For instance, while processing the data of a mine to be blasted, the person engaged in preparing the ortho image should have proper knowledge regarding haul roads, cut and fill mining, volume calculation, contours, and spot levels.
Pilot Expertise in mining environment
A drone pilot needs a plenty of expertise in the technical aspects of flying a drone in a mining environment. It starts with understanding the terrain and evaluating the flying challenges in a mine and how the drone can be flown seamlessly on those scenarios. Advance drone flight management softwares like DMO makes the job of a drone pilot easier by automating the flight plan. Besides, the drone is a costly tool and handling with care and ensuring its safety is of utmost importance. Apart from knowledge of the field in which a drone pilot is in action and ensuring personal safety to restrict mishaps is also crucial.
The factors that guide the worksite managers whether to employ rental drone services or to invest in a full-time in-house drone team thus depends on how economic will be the process in the long run.
Pros & Cons of Drones-as-a-service (DRaaS) model
- Low upfront cost
- Deep Photogrammetric knowledge is not needed
- Access to the best available technology
- Ease of scalability
- Operation maintenance is convenient
- It is less flexible to conduct a survey whenever required
- Finding good quality drone service vendors can be difficult
- Rigid pricing structures of the platform to use the drone data
- Human Resources can be a problem
Pros & Cons of In-house Drone team
- The immediate response from the in-house survey team
- The operations can be tailor-made to fit the organization’s needs
- It is very flexible to conduct a survey whenever needed
- The cost of operations will be much higher
- Domain-specific knowledge may be a problem to acquire; conducting training programs will also add expenses to the operations.
- The cost of maintenance is high
- Staying up-to-date with the emerging drone laws and regulations can be a problem
Choosing whether to opt for Drone service or an In-house Drone team can be consulted with a drone industry expert. Considering both the ideas we can therefore conclude, it’s more beneficial for a resource owner to outsource ‘Drone as a Service’. The advantages include from cost benefits, regular maintenance, to accessing the new & emerging technology and equipping with the latest skills & expertise.
Regardless of what an worksite manager ends up choosing, Skylark Drones can help with both Drone as a service as well as help you in setting up an In-house Drone team powered by our flagship products Spectra and Drone Mission Ops which will help worksite managers meeting their end to end drone survey & mapping requirements.