Most drone industry professionals are passionate the technology and eager to champion the use of uncrewed systems to their colleagues and managers. From touting the ways drones can improve critical medical deliveries to demonstrating how uncrewed systems can increase ROI on farms to showcasing the effectiveness of drones in emergency response, commercial UAV professionals have no shortage of use cases available to bolster their claims that drones save time and money and offer added safety to a wide range of operations.

Although the benefits of uncrewed systems are gaining acceptance in the business world, getting company leaders to commit to a drone program can still be challenging. A recent Commercial UAV News report, 6 Barriers to Drone Adoption and How to Overcome Them, looks at the obstacles drone proponents face in fields such as construction, mining, surveying & mapping, and energy. Across these industries, some leaders continue to push back on drone adoption, citing high start-up costs, difficulties around hiring and training, confusing federal and state regulations, problems with creating new workflows, and more.

Given these challenges, many people in our industry wonder how they can become more effective champions of uncrewed systems at the companies and organizations where they work. Experts at the upcoming Commercial UAV Expo can help.

At “Defining the Value of Drone Technology to Management,” Ben Stocker, Senior Construction Technologist at Skender, will discuss ways to explain the long-term benefits of uncrewed systems to colleagues and leaders.  Part of the larger “How to Leverage Drones in Construction: Launching, Logistics and Lidar” session scheduled for September 6, Stocker’s presentation will offer practical advice for those looking to influence and inspire organizational stakeholders.

Recently, Commercial UAV News spoke with Stocker about the challenges to drone adoption in fields such as construction, the importance of demonstrating cost-savings and ROI, and what Commercial UAV Expo attendees will take away from this presentation.

Commercial UAV News: What does it take to be an effective uncrewed technology “champion” at a company or organization?

Stocker: Having field knowledge or project management knowledge about the technology is incredibly beneficial because you not only need to know what the cool new technologies are, you also need to know how it helps the project team. Someone without a lot of professional experience might not be as successful in this kind of role because they might not understand how the technology actually helps on a project. For me, a lot of the solutions that I'm trying to solve with these new technologies are problems that I had myself while I was on project teams.  

Commercial UAV News: What I’ve read and heard, it sounds like promoting drone technology in a company can be a full-time job. Is that true?

Stocker: It helps having a dedicated role like this because there are definitely a lot of people that are interested in trying out new technologies, and working on adopting the technology can pull you away from your actual job a little bit. Also, there are cases in companies or on projects where everyone is doing their own thing. Around the whole company, everyone's using different software, different systems, and there's no standardization. At Skender, we've gotten to the point now where people trust me enough that if they see something cool, they can just message me or call me, and I can look into it and see if it fits for the work we’re doing. So, it's nice to have that central person who just knows what's going on and what will work for the company.

Commercial UAV News: How do you define the value of a drone-based project? How do you get management to understand that using this technology can result in significant ROI?

Stocker: Return on investment, the money side of it, is something that people always ask about. Whoever signs that final check wants to know, “Is this going to save us money?” In some cases, it’s easy to show that we can save money. For example, if we implement a new software system, we could stop spending, say $50,000 a year on a year on a subscription that we have, and we'll do our work more efficiently. Time savings can almost be more important. We’ve rolled out projects where we’ve integrated software that can do in one hour a week what an engineer would spend eight hours a week doing. The system is more efficient, and the time and money saved is huge.

Commercial UAV News: Does the increased safety of drone-based systems also contribute to ROI?

Stocker: Absolutely. I’ll give you an example. We recently had to do facade inspections on a 21-story building. Our alternative to using drones would have been to get a bunch of lifts or scaffolds going around the building and send up human inspectors. Using drones meant that I could be safely on the ground while the drone flew around the building, zooming into any point of the building I wanted to inspect. This approach is so much safer than having to manually inspect the entire side of the building. It’s also faster and more accurate, and that adds value.

Commercial UAV News: What can attendees expect to take away from your session at Commercial UAV Expo?

Stocker: I’m going to talk about how I got started with drones, about how they’ve been useful from the very beginning, and how we started proving that the technology was worthwhile. I’ll also describe some advanced use cases and show how drones have really benefited our teams and our clients. Also, I’ll explain that while drone systems can seem pricey when you get started, those initial costs are a drop in the bucket for what you get out—particularly if you're working on jobs like large construction projects.

Interested in learning more about using drones for construction operations? Join the global drone community at Commercial UAV Expo.

Commercial UAV Expo is the definitive global event for professionals integrating or operating commercial UAS. Construction-focused conference sessions include “Lidar or Photogrammetry on the Construction Site: How, Why And When,” “Defining the Value of Drone Technology to Management,” and “Seeing the Big Picture: Demonstrating the Strategic Value of Drones to Management.”  

More than 250 exhibitors will participate, providing products and services including hardware and software, flight operations management, testing or purchasing drones, and different strategies and development for drone use. Commercial UAV Expo is a key event to evaluate and identify potential use cases for drones within the construction community. Registration is now open – Click here to register today