How Ground Robots Help Validate Subcontractor Work

February 2, 2022

The construction sector grappled with many challenges in 2021, including a worker shortage, supply chain delays, and a shortage of essential construction materials like timber. This year, cutting costs will be a key priority: and managing subcontractors effectively is one such way to prevent profit losses.

Subcontractor mistakes – however big or small – can result in lost time and money and cause lasting damage to relationships with clients. Construction is also a notoriously litigious industry. This means that quality control is critical at every stage of a construction project.

Fortunately, ground robots can now perform regular inspections – providing an indisputable record of what’s been done and helping to validate subcontractor work. This can help general contractors avoid being overcharged or getting involved in lengthy and expensive disputes.


Subcontractor Errors Erode Profits

A number of factors can lead to poor quality subcontractor work: damaged or low-quality materials due to supply chain issues, human error or poor handling, failure to document or communicate changes, and highly complex or challenging designs.

While all GCs recognize the importance of subcontractor quality control, many of them don’t have time to review every single placement or piece of work, or to perform daily manual site inspections. And that’s where ground robots come in – providing an efficient way of automating site inspections and detecting errors early on.


Ensure quality with Automated Inspections

With DroneDeploy, you can send ground robots like Boston Dynamics’ Spot on completely autonomous inspection missions. Start by attaching a 360 camera to Spot and use DroneDeploy to map the robot’s path using teleoperation, or drop waypoints within an existing map. You can then schedule the robot to follow this route and capture routine 360 walkthroughs of your job site. This data is automatically uploaded to DroneDeploy for your digital record, review, and annotation.

Importantly, these missions can be scheduled in advance, for any time of day or night. This means Spot can perform daily unsupervised inspections – saving employees’ time and providing an up-to-date record of progress. And because 360 data is captured from the same route and angles every time, there’s no human error – your inspection data is comprehensive and repeatable, making it easier to track changes or detect errors in subcontractor work.

For GCs and project managers, these automated inspections provide a valuable record of completed work that can be viewed without even setting foot on-site. Simply schedule Spot to inspect at the end of a workday and the data will be available in the online platform for you to view the next morning. If you notice any errors or quality issues, these can be tagged and annotated within the walkthrough so you can easily alert subcontractors to what needs fixing. There is also potential to integrate machine learning applications to help detect errors.

This data helps general contractors to avoid being overcharged by subcontractors. Usually, it’s difficult to dispute charges without accurate proof. But ground robots collect a detailed and accurate picture of progress day by day, helping to provide indisputable documentation so that general contractors can hold subcontractors accountable.

Another benefit of documenting site progress in this way is that you have better overall visibility of how the project is tracking. This helps you know when to move onto the next phase of construction and line up or delay the next contractors. In short, better visibility helps you keep the construction project on schedule, and that means happier clients.


Create a Culture of Diligence & Transparency

Using Spot for 24/7 unsupervised data capture on construction sites also offers several benefits for project managers. Getting into a routine of automated daily inspections can help to create a culture of better work quality and punctuality. When employees know that work is being inspected at the end of every shift, it’s a strong motivator to complete work on schedule and to a high standard.

Having all site data in a centralized location also helps to create an atmosphere of transparency, communication, and accountability. Everyone can see the work completed by different parties, and it’s easy for project managers, contractors, and subcontractors to generate reports or collaborate to resolve issues.

By automating the collection of data on your job site, ground robots provide a reliable and continuous picture of progress. And that makes it easier to avoid the cost, delays, and unhappy clients that can result from poor subcontractor work. Learn more in our eBook, How Robotic Automation is Transforming the Construction Industry – or get in touch with our experts.

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