How Drones Reduce HVAC Maintenance Costs, Collect Data Quickly, and Improve Safety

Unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly called “drones,” are coming into their own in facility maintenance. Facility managers employ drones to inspect areas difficult or dangerous to monitor, including HVAC systems. No longer the exclusive domain of hobbyists and the military-intelligence community, drones are poised to revolutionize the way America does business.

Consider drones also being deployed to inspect difficult and dangerous areas like rooftops for HVAC maintenance. Using a drone to survey a rooftop allows you to fully understand a maintenance or cleaning need before sending a technician up, drastically reducing his time spent in a dangerous situation. Even with scaffolding and safety harnesses, he’s taking on risk. A drone, however, takes virtually no risk. You might lose the drone, but drones are comparatively inexpensive and prices keep dropping.

Check out this UAV Boiler Inspection by a drone.

Drones possess benefits far beyond safety, however. They reduce maintenance costs significantly, collecting data faster than any human can. That’s not just money saved in man hours. It’s also money saved through getting equipment back online sooner rather than later. High definition video, recorded via drone, allows facilities managers and maintenance engineers the opportunity to examine potential problems and discuss solutions from the safety and comfort of their offices.

And you can say goodbye to your clipboard. Drones collect data, then send it off for storage in the cloud. Once uploaded, facility management software makes sure maintenance requests don’t get filed away in the “pay no mind” file. Your facility management software will send an alert to the relevant maintenance technician. You then have a record of that alert, increasing both efficiency and accountability.

The footage your buddy took after he strapped a GoPro to a drone is just the tip of the iceberg. Drone applications over the next year will make day-to-day maintenance safer, easier and more cost effective. Perhaps most importantly, drones and related technology will make sure maintenance gets done. That’s an overall increase in your company’s efficiency. And that means more money to reinvest. With the cost of drones plummeting, don’t get left behind as this revolutionary new technology reshapes American industry.
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  • Well this is interesting! I knew drones were being used for different reasons (even delivering mail possibly), but I never considered it for the HVAC field. Is drone use recommended for commercial use mainly? Or would it also be cost-effective even with residential services?

    February 28, 2017
  • This is an excellent, well-written article with relevant information. What I have found is that there are still new facilities being built which do not take advantage of high efficiency equipment and systems because it is cost-prohibitive to do so. The Atmospheric Fund has offered “green loans” to bridge this gap but it can be complicated to qualify and there are some legal challenges with passing the additional costs associated with efficient equipment on to the property owners at substantial completion of the building.

    Much of the energy used in a tenanted building is by the tenants. However, especially in condominiums, there is little incentive and motivation to engage owners/tenants to reduce energy usage. And why shoudl there be? It can be risky and volunteer board members do not understand it. It’s also hard to comprehend how to go into a unit-owner’s suite and make physical changes like showerheads, toilets and faucet aerators – all of which are low-cost ways of effective conservation.

    In my view, innovation is needed in this particular sector of real estate to bring about conservation. The answer lies in getting the job done right in the first place. The city of Toronto has taken steps to improve the efficiency standards by which new buildings have to be built but greater incentive should be mandated and programs in place to help tenants conserve both in new and existing condominium buildings.

    May 31, 2017

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