Drone flying near a building under construction

Drone operations: how companies can manage them in-house

Ever more companies are using drones to increase productivity, also thanks to the approval of the new EASA regulation that simplifies rules for flying. Many companies still outsource these operations, but today it is possible to incorporate this activity internally. Here’s how to do it.

 

More and more companies are becoming active in the drone sector. In recent years, the market has rapidly expanded, with specific platforms being developed for increasingly diversified flight operations. The entire system is growing: from manufacturing companies to those that use drones professionally; from software manufacturers to service companies related to SAPR (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems).

Many of the most important companies operating in Italy are financing drones-focused projects. One of these is the National Autonomous Roads Corporation, ANAS. With its Smart Road program, ANAS aims to build a set of technological infrastructures for sustainable and improved road safety and usability through Digital Transformation. Among the novelties ANAS planned, there are flying poles, located along the motorway network, equipped with sensors and internet connection. Drones will rest above them, ready to fly for monitoring, inspection or public safety operations.

In addition, two telephone companies, Vodafone and Huawei, are planning aerial video surveillance programs based on the combined use of drones and the new 5G networks. The latter guarantee more bandwidth, making it possible to overcome the current technological limitations of these systems.

And finally, TERNA. The Italian electricity grid operator uses drones to safely monitor the high-voltage grid.

Drone, the new business opportunity for companies

For companies willing to expand their business, the drones market is an interesting one. It offers multiple possibilities to increase the value of businesses.

The construction sector provides an example of this. It has always been among the least innovative, but thanks to drones, it has lately increased its profit margins. What are the advantages of drones in the construction industry? In the case of inspection work, they render scaffolding, cranes and climbers unnecessary, also allowing to reduce the personnel on site. Moreover, with drones, these jobs become simpler, faster, cheaper and safer.

Another interesting aspect is that this technology allows to collect a variety of data. In addition to capturing images and videos, drones also can detect structural parameters by mounting specific technologies. This makes it possible to carry out laser analysis of load-bearing structures, detect thermal gradients, or generate 2D and 3D maps from above.

EASA implements the new common European regulation

Despite its considerable growth in recent years, the drones market still has enormous untapped potential for development. This is due mainly to two types of factors: regulatory and technological.

To enable further expansion of the drones business, the regulatory framework will need to take into account everything that is already allowed by technology, but not by law. In this respect, the European Union is taking important steps forward with the new common European regulation on drones, which will gradually replace national regulations.

Simpler rules

The new rules simplify the procedures for those who wish to work with drones. Companies will be able to obtain flight permits spending less time and resources. The new regulation will also allow beyond visual line of sight flights (BVLOS), which are the most important for companies and are necessary in most long range operations. Until now, BVLOS flights were intended only for experimental purposes. They also required the direct involvement of ENAC (the Italian Civil Aviation Authority) and ENAV (the company managing civil air traffic), thus effectively preventing their commercial use.


Drones, new European regulation EASA: categories and requirements. Source: Deep Blue.

New opportunities with the IoT

Other significant opportunities will come from the combination of drone technology with other technologies under development in the era of the fourth industrial revolution. It is enough to think of the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT), a system of distributed and interconnected sensors and devices. Engaged in an ongoing dialogue, these will provide drones with real-time data useful for navigating and performing operations.
Automation and artificial intelligence should also be considered. They will allow these systems to be increasingly autonomous (as was the case with robots), and above all to be able to learn, further increasing the range of their application.

In short, everything seems to suggests that we are only at the beginning of a revolution with potential still to be expressed. The implementation of the new EASA regulation will certainly boost the market for professional drones, with considerable benefits for companies that will be able to seize the opportunities.

Operations with drones, it is no longer necessary to outsource them

Another economic advantage, both for companies that already operate with drones and for those that intend to start doing so, is the possibility of managing these operations internally. For the use of drones, in fact, most companies turn to external companies, experts in these services. Initially this was inevitable, because the drones sector was new, highly specialized and difficult to master. However, now things could change.

For large companies that include drone-related operations in their business plans, the biggest opportunity today could be to make this activity in-house. Developing an internal structure and organization to manage drones, can lead to saving resources (including economic ones) and increasing efficiency.
Until now, operators of the electricity, telephone and road networks carried out their own inspection and maintenance operations, without relying on external companies. Drones must thus be seen as an extra tool to be added to those already available. They can enhance the skills already present in the company, such as those of repairs and maintenance experts. Resorting to professional training or to the support of new personnel, experienced in flight operations, is always a possibility, if necessary.

Are you ready to expand your business with drones? We can support you

Many companies offer business support services for the architecture and development of drone-based operations. Our sister company EuroUSC Italia, with its significant experience in the aviation and drone sector, is among these.

Are you ready to expand your business with drones? We can support you Whether you already use drones commercially or not, EuroUSC can support you expanding your business with drones.

Does your company use drones internally?

Your company already uses drones internally. That’s great! We can still assist you.
EuroUSC Italia can provide support in expanding your use model. In particular, they can help you in:

– analysing new business opportunities through drone-based operations;
– carrying out regulatory feasibility studies for operations around the world;
– identifying innovative technological solutions with high added value;
– offering professional training on new regulations and procedures to be implemented for BVLOS operations around the world.

Does your company want to start using drones internally?

If your company wants to internalize the use of drones, we are your guys.
EuroUSC can support all phases of this process, with:

– cost/benefit analysis and feasibility study;
– assistance in the definition of the organizational structure and in the establishment of the new department/division, with definition of roles and responsibilities;
– analysis and training plan for internal staff, to preserve the skills present in a company and expand them with new and specific ones;
– risk analysis of operations;
– support from the regulatory point of view and for compliance with GDPR regulations;
– internal textbook development and authorization procedures.

Ask for a first quote to EuroUSC Italia, free of charge.

Vera Ferraiuolo
vera.ferraiuolo@dblue.it

Senior Dissemination Consultant