Beachwood, Ohio-based Tremco Roofing & Building Maintenance has completed what it says is the first Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-approved nighttime commercial drone flight.
The company used its SkyBEAM (Building Envelope Asset Mapping) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to inspect more than 2.3 million square feet of roofing at a southern Ohio business. The infrared camera was used to inspect multi-level rooftops for trapped moisture, energy leaks and other damage.
According to Tremco, the evening flight was necessary because the infrared camera is most effective at identifying temperature variations when the sun is not warming the building. These variations can indicate problems, such as hard-to-find leaks and roof system deficiencies, the company explains.
Before, says Tremco, conducting an inspection of this size would typically take eight to 10 nights and would require survey technicians to traverse rooftops. Instead, the drone work took approximately three-and-a-half hours and did not require any people to be on the roof at night.
In addition, SkyBEAM conducted a daytime operation by using its high-definition camera to inspect the rooftops for potential issues.
Tremco says the UAV can also be used to detect façade issues such as tiny gaps and cracks, as well as deteriorating concrete (which would typically require scaffolding or cranes to locate).
After the flight, a report is created from overlapping daytime and nighttime images. The report is then reviewed by the team to determine the best course of action. By detecting and understanding problems early, facility managers can address needs and then implement cost-effective, long-term roof asset management and budgeting strategies, says Tremco.
Robb Chauvin, executive director of inspection services for the company, says, “This inaugural nighttime flight signifies a great advancement in the roofing and building maintenance industry. We look forward to working with our industry partners and clients to continue to improve the building inspection process.”
The FAA granted approval to SkyBEAM for the first nighttime commercial drone operation in the U.S. in April. SkyBEAM is also approved to operate during the day.
Toronto, Ontario-based Industrial SkyWorks (ISW) developed SkyBEAM in partnership with Tremco Roofing. ISW has been operating Tremco Roofing SkyBEAM drones in Canada over the past 21 months.