Another Dayton-area construction company gets in the drone biz

Heapy Engineering using Drone for Construction

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[Editor’s Note: The drone is being used for thermal imaging, roof inspections, job site data collection and infrastructure monitoring.]

Another local construction firm is joining the world of unmanned aerial systems.

Heapy Engineering has contracted with a local drone startup, 3D Aerial Solutions LLC, which is flying unmanned systems supporting Heapy’s work with building and green energy design, Heapy Senior Principal Michael Berning tells me.

“It’s just a chance to go things faster and cheaper,” Berning said. “It’s a tool we can use to gather more information than we would have before, and that lets us focus more time digging deeper on the data.”

The company is using a six-rotored hexicopter conducting thermal imaging, roof and facade assessments, job site data collection and infrastructure monitoring. Berning said thermography — measuring heat distribution on roofs of large buildings and projects — has been done before on foot with a handheld camera, but using unmanned systems saves time.

In the future, he said services like solar array distribution and marketing could also be services it can provide with drones. Design projects are seeing the benefit of more technology.

This requires Heapy to follow Federal Aviation Administration restrictions and obtain Section 333 exemptions allowing it to fly drones. It has two pilots on staff. Still, Berning said the investment is worthwhile.

“It’s kind of limitless what you can do with the craft,” Berning said. “Every client we’ve talked to has some kind of idea on how to use it.”

A number of other major construction firms have taken to using unmanned systems in their work. Danis Building Construction Co. uses the craft in construction management. Woolpert Inc. uses them for surveying and was one of the first companies in the state to embrace the craft.

Heapy is the second largest engineering firm in the Dayton region, with $25.5 million in billings in 2014, according to the 2015-2016 DBJ Book of Lists. The Kettering-based company has about 140 local employees including 70 engineers.


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