Komatsu America Corp., a manufacturer and supplier of construction equipment, and Propeller Aero Inc., a provider of drone analytics solutions, are partnering to boost the efficiency of construction job sites with drone-powered mapping and analytics software.
With drones becoming an increasingly common work site tool, Komatsu has identified aerial mapping and analytics as a key component of its Smart Construction initiative – integrated hardware and software products designed to offer an end-to-end workflow for each phase of construction.
“A Komatsu Smart Construction job site, by definition, is technology-enhanced and production-optimized,” says Jason Anetsberger, senior product manager of Komatsu America Corp. “Adding Propeller Aero as one of our key partners gives our North American distributors and customers exceptional capabilities to achieve this standard in the aerial mapping space. Propeller combines simple yet powerful analysis tools with accurate and fast site visualization.”
Komatsu says it spent several years testing various commercial drone mapping and analytics products in North America. Propeller’s processing machinery crunches thousands of drone images in hours and delivers the results as a cloud-based 3D model to the user’s desktop or tablet. From there, collaboration and analysis tools let users perform height, volume and slope calculations and measure change over time to confirm that a project is on track.
“Work sites are starting to see the real business value of accurate, up-to-date drone data,” says John Frost, vice president of business development at Propeller. “We drive that value through workflows that enable everyone to understand who’s moved what material, how much and where. It’s all about empowering work sites with the information they need to make data-driven decisions to reduce costs, ensure quality and use resources efficiently. Now more than ever, stakeholders on-site, or in the head office miles away, can stay up to date with exactly what’s happening on the ground.”
Importantly, Propeller’s technology platform supports multiple coordinate systems, including local site calibrations. This allows personnel to capture up-to-date survey data expressed in the specific geospatial coordinates they already use on that job site. Local grid support is crucial for ensuring drone-captured maps and models match up with plans and previous surveys, according to Komatsu.
The Propeller solutions are now available through a network of Komatsu distributors across the U.S. Komatsu Equipment Co. (KEC), a Komatsu distributor headquartered in Salt Lake City, was among the first to roll out the Propeller solutions to Komatsu customers.
“Anyone can fly a drone; it’s what you do with the data that makes an impression,” says Chris Faulhaber, Smart Construction business manager at KEC. “Propeller provides fast, accurate data processing via a Web platform that is unparalleled. The platform is easy to use, facilitates healthy collaboration and delivers vital information quickly – so everyone can work together better and faster than anticipated.”
Earlier this year, DJI announced a partnership with Skycatch to manufacture and deliver a fleet of 1,000 high-precision drones for Komatsu construction sites worldwide.