Drones are increasingly being used in the telco field for telecoms infrastructure surveys, providing up-to-date information on towers without the need for climbing crews. Here at Delmec we’re watching this development closely: the technology is progressing quickly, and we intend to be at the forefront of this newest evolution in our industry.

We offer a number of drone services, adapting our existing systems as the machines’ abilities grow. We already use drones for line of sight surveys and emergency site investigations and we’re currently developing a solution which will allow us to use drones for due diligence surveys and much more in time.

However, most current drones effectively only collect detailed photographs, building a picture of the tower through point clouds. They can’t yet do all that our engineers can, such as judging steel grades, coating thickness or stay wire tensions. Their MM accuracy is improving, though, and some models can now determine tower geometry and material sizes relatively accurately.

For me, the most exciting development in this field is not the drones themselves, but their software. This is becoming increasingly adept, using algorithms and AI to assess complex issues onsite. Through companies such as AirMap, Visual Intelligence and Bentley, a variety of software enhancements are becoming available. For example:

  • Digital Twinning is a useful application that allows comparison between what’s currently on site and what has been designed for the site (and mapped for revenue modelling).
  • Ancillary Comparison contrasts current and past site images, so companies can ensure that they’re only being charged for facilities currently in place.
  • Design Solutions are improved by more accurate dimensions, allowing for better strengthening solutions or new tower design.
  • Intelligent Maintenance allows us to deploy maintenance more efficiently by identifying and targeting known risk issues.
  • Structural Assessment systems with up-to-date data and effective modelling will make engineering decisions easier and more efficient.

At Delmec we’re continuously improving our drone usage, working with international software development teams to ensure our clients benefit from the most advanced technology available.

We’re also actively adapting our Telecoms Information Management System (TiMs) and its online app to process data from drones in real-time, assisting or perhaps eventually replacing teams on the ground. Over time, innovative drone usage, software integration and AI will mean we can use drones to make engineering assessments, determine outcomes and solutions and even perform autonomous missions.

Drones are undoubtedly becoming a key tool in our industry, and we fully intend to utilise this exciting new technology to further innovate, adding value for our clients at home and abroad.