We’ve often talked about the many ways in which drones are set to transform organizations and various industries, but what do those transformations actually look like? There isn’t a single answer to that kind of question, but there are specific ones that are worth exploring. It’s something that Firmatek has done in a very definitive manner with the appointment of Andrew Maximow as their new Chief Drone Officer.

Chief Drone Officer Andrew Maximow

Chief Drone Officer Andrew Maximow

Firmatek has been in the mining, construction, solid waste, and other industries since the 1980's, and their commitment to providing the best results to their clients by using the best technology available for the specific job has allowed them to embrace concepts like a CDO. At Firmatek, the CDO is tasked with seamlessly integrating drones into existing workflows while also offering clients new capabilities in order to drive additional growth for the company as a whole.

What’s important to understand here is how the CDO is set to guide Firmatek’s precision measurement, 3D mapping, and data analytics capabilities. It’s something that is specifically relevant for their company and clients, but these are lessons that can and will be relevant to professionals across various organizations and industries.


Adjusting with an Evolving Industry

Not too long ago, the position of CDO was a borderline fantasy, but the company recognized how that position could help them uncover important business insights with their drone program. It’s something that Gant Elmore, Vice President and part owner of Firmatek, explained in great detail.

“We identified that drones were becoming a bigger part of our client's requests and that we could add real value to our clients through a drone program,” said Elmore. “We knew we needed an extra piece and that's when we were able to go find Andrew to take our drone program to that next level and allowed us to put together a national program for our clients.”

Providing clients with these kinds of options is just part of what Maximow is doing to help uncover important business insights. The company has a number of available different services, but their drone solutions come down to their drone service solutions and drone leasing program. The distinctions and advantages between the two are a couple of the details Maximow has helped to refine to help clients make the decision that makes the most sense for them.

“For our clients, it really comes down to a capex vs opex kind of decision,” said Maximow. “We want to be as flexible as possible to accommodate their purchasing models. Many of our clients are making centralized purchasing decisions, while others are very decentralized so that each site or each district or each region or each site is able to make purchasing decisions on their own. We want to have models that are flexible to accommodate that.”

Figuring out what that flexibility looks like is something the CDO can define in a way that makes financial and logistical sense for everyone. All of that stems from a recognition of where and how this technology can really make a difference for professionals of all types and sizes.


Data Frequency and Logistics

Firmatek’s offering and capabilities have been augmented by drones, but the CDO position has allowed the company to more fully define that impact. It’s one thing to gather info that’s more accurate, but it’s quite another to refine and define how that data can become actionable.

“Drones have allowed our clients to gather data at a much greater frequency,” Maximow explained. “In the past, clients have asked for quarterly or even annual data gathering, but with drones we can gather that same info on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis. That ability provides our customers with a better handle on their production environment which is something we're really in tune with.”

What that means to an organization is something that’s reflected directly and indirectly on their bottom line. Drone technology compliments what a client might already be doing, but also changes how they might be looking to approach a particular issue.

“We were recently with a client down in Mexico who about a year ago starting doing weekly drone flights with us,” said Elmore. “His comment to us was that we had changed his life by providing him with this drone. There was such a change in his daily work life because of the ability to use a drone to gather data and then having us give him actionable results that were driving his decision making.”

In his role as the CDO, Maximow has defined what it means for Firmatek and their clients to think of drones as yet another tool for data gathering, but doing so from the air. It’s a position that many in the industry talk about, but defining what that means in such specific terms has and will continue to create incredible opportunities.

People at the Center of the Drone Equation

All the hype around how drones could and would change things has gotten some organizations to think of the technology as something inherently different. While distinctions between drones and more traditional tools/techniques are certainly present, they shouldn’t be the focus. That’s why the interest in the technology needs to be funneled through the proper expectations and explanations around how it can make a difference.

We really make a point to understand an operator’s needs in order to tailor the results accordingly,” said Maximow. “The other piece that we offer as part of that intimacy is a follow up consultation so that customers understand what happens in certain scenarios in terms of how much time they have and how much space is available, which is often tied to a revenue number. That sort of consultation is definitely something we offer above and beyond our competitors.”

It’s an offering that is centered around the insight and expertise that has been developed by the CDO, which is a critical element in this process and in this setup. Challenges related to how data can and will be processed, utilized and stored have been coming up more and more, since the logistics around actually gathering data via a drone are getting simpler and easier. It’s an active consideration because of the roles that have been defined as well as the people who are in those roles.

“We're not just giving our customers back the data, we're giving them the results that they asked for,” Elmore said. “That means they don’t need to spend the time and resources in trying to figure out what this data is useful for because we're giving them the end result which allows them to go apply that in their business as quickly as possible.”

That application is a result of the process that comes from the top, and it’s important to highlight how people can and are playing a role in this process and in this hierarchy. Drone technology will continue to evolve, and the services and offerings associated with that technology will continue to change with it.

As the CDO at Firmatek, Maximow is tasked with looking at innovation in this space in order to help develop new capabilities his company can provide and deliver. New sensors and software will be able to analyze things in different ways, but people are and will continue to be at the center of that equation. Roles like the CDO will enable the people within various organizations to define how to efficiently and effectively leverage the technology.