DPR is a technical builder ranked among the top 15 general contractors in the US. It has a passion for results. The firm also has a history of being on the cutting edge of construction technology, so it is not surprising they’ve been a longtime innovator in the use of drone data and, as a result, have been working with Skycatch since 2014. 

DPR and its innovative practices have put the firm at the forefront of building data centers, which are technologically advanced buildings in their own right. Data centers have to be built with extreme precision and with extensive documentation, as they can be updated as often as every year. Every beam, duct bank and slab of concrete needs to be accounted for, so when upgrades and expansions are needed, there are no surprises lurking in the walls or in the ground. Even during construction, it isn’t unusual for new additions and upgrades in equipment to be added into the design plan.
One of these projects is underway for DPR. The complexities of this project are immense, with 800 to 1,100 active personnel. There is a lot at stake: keeping people safe, keeping the project on time and within budget, and upholding the rigorous standards needed to complete the project successfully. This is where the value of drone-based data and insights makes a significant impact.

The Rework Issue: Conduit Stub Up of Alignment

To keep the project on schedule and under budget, work must be checked as often as possible. Traditionally, this meant constant face-to-face communication with subcontractors, manually walking the site and measuring the work against drawings. On this project, Skycatch drone surveys replace this workflow with highly accurate 2D maps and 3D models.

During a phase of the fiber optic duct bank installation, the field engineer verified the work daily by utilizing the downloaded Skycatch point cloud. After the site was flown and processed, the field engineer pulled the point cloud into Navisworks to check the as-builts against the design plan. In one instance, the field engineer brought up the issue involving the conduit stub alignment with the Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) manager. Together, they verified that the model was correct, and the conduit stub-ups were, indeed, out of alignment. Because the Skycatch system is surveyor proven to 5cm accuracy, the field engineer and VDC manager were able to measure confidently and inform all stakeholders of the degree of offset, and the rework plan was able to be scheduled for the following day.

Without this workflow, it’s possible that the issue wouldn’t have been discovered until after backfill was complete, concrete was poured, and layout for walls was being dropped. At that point, all work would have stopped, and the team would have had to tear out a 200 ft. slab of concrete, chisel and remove the duct bank and conduits, then redo the entire run. By the estimation of the superintendent, the amount of rework could have measured hundreds of thousands of dollars and set the schedule back by one to two months; that would have been a no-win outcome for all stakeholders. 

The $800,000 Issue

Physically walking the site to verify the completion of work takes hours out of the superintendent’s day. In the interest of transparency, work should always be verified. 

Taking advantage of the daily UAV flights, superintendents can easily verify the completion of work by spending a few minutes through the Data Viewer. The precise nature of the data allows site superintendents to be able to take 2D measurements and confidently match them to the design. This reduces the time spent in the field and provides clear documentation to help resolve billing issues and prevent overpayment.

At this site, one superintendent utilized Skycatch to save $20,000 over 6 months. On a large scale project, where there can be as many as 20 superintendents, the savings over 1 year could add up to $800,000.

With just two use cases, the Skycatch solution helped to prevent an estimated one to two months of schedule overrun and saved DPR tens of thousands of dollars in a single year. This can add up to hundreds of thousands on a mega project with 20 superintendents.