Aerial shots taken by drones help the construction team to plan site logistics.

Photo Courtesy of Uplift Data partners

The new 600,000-square-foot Mercyhealth Hospital and Trauma Center–Riverside project sits on a 65-acre site in Rockford, Ill. Surveying work to help manage various components of the project — safety, logistics, inspection, etc. — would typically take two surveyors two days to complete. Tom Simon of Mortenson Construction is general superintendent on the project. He says thanks to drone technology, that work can wrap up in 30 minutes. 

“We are just starting to scratch the surface on this technology,” Simon says. “It’s been refined over the last few years to make it into not just a marketing tool, but a tool that can dial in and be focused on site logistics, schedule management and many more elements.”

Mortenson is working with Uplift Data Partners, a drone service provider for the construction industry. The drones have the ability to capture 2-D data, such as photos and videos, and 3-D models. The data integrate with the project’s 3-D modeling programs and software. The project team can then take that information and apply it to its decision-making. For instance, at any one time, the site can have 10 pieces of equipment each moving 1,000-1,500 cubic yards of dirt per day. Aerial photos taken by the drones — which are within one inch of accuracy — can help to plan how that equipment should maneuver.