KAST Construction, headquartered in West Palm Beach, Florida, first began using drone technology for the same reason so many of our customers do: for promotional use. When redesigning their website in 2019, KAST sought out aerial images captured by drones to display panoramic views of their sites. Impressed by the comprehensive analysis this provided, upper management saw potential in the space.
The VDC team decided to wait for an ideal project to fly to create a genuine use case for the data and generate executive buy-in. After achieving this, drones became an integral part of daily site evaluations, logistics planning, and work verification. Enabled by DroneDeploy’s Flight Services, KAST is now able to fly sites, evaluate as-designed vs. as-built plans, and keep leadership informed throughout every stage of their projects – at a fraction of the time and cost necessary before drone insights.
Read on to discover how the role of drone technology has evolved throughout this organization.
Evaluating New Technology in the Drone Market
John McDermott, Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) Manager at KAST, along with his supervisor, Rob Sloyer, Director of Technical Services, are responsible for researching and implementing new technology on construction sites. Seeing a continual rise in drone use throughout the industry first alerted them to the possibility of regular drone use at KAST. Still, as their jobs dictated, they remained skeptical of the value drone data could provide. While they didn’t want to miss the opportunity to use new technology, the higher up-front cost of building a drone program remained high.
After educating themselves on the product and familiarizing themselves with the terminology, the pair decided to try out drone software. “Remaining educated on your topic of interest is still the most important thing in implementing new technology,” Rob explains. The next logical step was getting project teams to realize the added value of these services, without hard dollar amounts.
KAST joined DroneDeploy in December of 2019, after experimenting with numerous drone software and drone service providers. Critical to their decision was DroneDeploy’s integration with Procore and features desirable to KAST’s work, such as 3D models, panoramas, and project file overlays. Overall, the ultimate deciding factor was DroneDeploy’s Flight Services, a subset of the Professional Services team that elevates businesses with on-demand data collection. With this model, users can order drone flights and pre-vetted pilots to their site at a given time and location, with results delivered to their DroneDeploy app within a couple of days.
“While we looked at other drone software, we realized we would need another 3rd-party app for flight services, which may not be tailored to the software we were already using. DroneDeploy offers an all-in-one solution to this issue.“John McDermott, VDC Manager, KAST Construction
Utilizing DroneDeploy’s Flight Services on Construction Sites
KAST immediately hit the ground running, working with DroneDeploy’s Enterprise Services Manager, Brooks Allwardt, to develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) for their company. Instead of spending months consulting with independent contractors and conducting their own research, KAST was able to get their questions answered in near real-time from an expert well-versed in DroneDeploy software and their organizational goals. “We gained intangible education given by DroneDeploy’s Implementation process, which can only be given and accomplished by an experienced person,” John states. While two employees are licensed currently, KAST feels confident that they’ll be fully prepared whenever they decide to purchase a drone – licenses, insurance, and SOPs included.
“DroneDeploy is the best drone software solution for KAST.”Rob Sloyer, Director of Technical Services, KAST Construction
Currently, KAST is using drone technology for a host of small projects. Pre-concrete pour verification, logistics planning, site surveying, and insurance documentation round out their most frequent use cases. While they admittedly don’t have thousands of flying time hours under their belts, they remain pleased with their current operations. Quickly identifying problem areas and comparing as-built to as-designed plans within Procore provide value to contractors and detailed project progress to owners. Plus, using a 3rd-party flight service allows workers to wholeheartedly learn the software, hardware, and SOPs before performing the tasks themselves, mitigating liability. “Ordering flights via DroneDeploy is simple,” John says, “the hardest part is getting FAA approval.”
Building their Drone Program for Construction Processes
Recently, KAST has been awarded two new projects at over $250 million. Between the two, drone capture for site planning and DroneDeploy’s interface between architect and client, contributed to bid success. In this case, drone technology proved the full scope of KAST’s capabilities.
KAST is unique in that performance is evaluated based on personal growth and organizational advancement. While profitability and new clients are essential, the project-first mission statement of KAST’s Technical Services Department is supreme. Are you doing what’s best for the project? Are you working for the benefit of the project? These questions put adding value paramount to their drone program’s success.
KAST’s long-term goal is to have a licensed pilot on every job site. Today, even when project teams don’t request a drone on-site, KAST’s Technical Services team still evaluates projects via DroneDeploy. By the end of 2020, they hope to have bought their first in-house drone, so that they can continue building their program – with Flight Services’ help, of course.