Customer Story

You can’t erase concrete – how Juneau Construction used drones and AI to spot issues early

December 14, 2023
Nicole Heger

It’s 5 a.m. and the first of many concrete trucks are headed to the project site. The superintendent and concrete foreman have their crews ready to go. As the concrete is being placed, a last-minute spot check of the site illuminates two misplaced sleeves.  But as we know, concrete waits for no one. 

The challenges of traditional concrete inspections are all too familiar – short inspection windows, manual assessments and the potential for oversight. Misplaced, out of tolerance and missing sleeves, as well as formwork, edge of slab and embeds in the wrong locations all lead to costly rework. Between GPR scanning, core drilling, overhead and potential delays, the rework for a single sleeve can cost up to $2,000.

To overcome these challenges, Juneau Construction Company sought a transformative solution, which led them to the intersection of drones, artificial intelligence and concrete operations in the form of DroneDeploy's Concrete Sleeve AI Reports.

A tech-forward solution: DroneDeploy’s Concrete Sleeve AI Report

By seamlessly integrating drones, artificial intelligence and machine learning, DroneDeploy's Concrete Sleeve AI Report offer a fast and accurate method for evaluating pre-pour concrete inspections. This is empowering general contractors like Juneau to detect and address potential issues early on, ultimately saving the project time and resources.

Juneau Construction Company’s journey: From manual to automated accuracy

Wilson Haworth, Senior Virtual Design and Construction Manager at Juneau, knows the challenges of concrete operations well. His team was using laser scanning for all concrete pours on Society Atlanta, a 31-story mixed-use project, but timing the scans 24 hours before placing concrete didn’t allow much time to make any necessary corrections. “By the time they got the final analysis of where critical elements of the building were, it was not enough time to get the changes implemented.”

To supplement the scans and get more real-time data, Juneau started using drone capture prior to the pours. The team members then created documentation to inspect and report on deviations that were found from observing the data. However, this was very manual work, taking the team approximately 10 man hours per pour. 

Enter DroneDeploy’s Concrete Sleeve AI Report. Augmented with artificial intelligence, one person on Wilson’s team can now complete an aerial inspection in 10 minutes and have the report back 2-4 hours after the map has been processed, which verifies the elements are installed in the correct location. These AI reports have freed up almost 10 man hours per report, saving his current project an additional $40,000. 

These AI reports have freed up almost 10 man hours per report, saving his current project an additional $40,000. 

“When you free up the mental capacity of your people instead of doing reports, they can focus on creating better penetration plans, coordinating your building better, identifying the issues earlier so you can get it captured in the site documentation. Then you can feed it through DroneDeploy to get the reports and analysis you want.”

According to Wilson, Juneau has experienced substantial ROI from the implementation of the pre-pour reports, and they now have a goal to integrate this in the workflows of all new projects to save money and time while delivering extraordinary quality to their clients. 

“If anyone’s walked a concrete deck, they know you can’t go from embed to embed or sleeve to sleeve within fifty-three seconds, let alone be dimensionally accurate within a couple of inches. That’s what the Concrete Sleeve AI Report does. It provides us with actual insights – for example, the install was 93% accurate on our last pour, giving us the ability to focus on correcting the remaining seven percent. It also helps us to understand what went wrong so we can correct that and improve next time.”

Considerations for success in concrete operations

To inspire other companies to see similar results, Wilson shares invaluable considerations for success in incorporating DroneDeploy's Concrete Sleeve AI Report into pre-pour workflows:

  1. Adjust workflows for optimal inputs: Fine-tune processes like flying lower and ensuring all sleeve elements are modeled to align with the capabilities of the tool, enhancing the overall effectiveness of data capture.
  1. Prioritize overlaid content: The deliverable is only as accurate as the data going into it. It’s important to ensure that composite sleeve drawings or Navisworks models are complete and up to date. 
  1. Centralize information in a single platform: Establishing a single source of truth is pivotal. Centralizing all reality capture data and reporting helps to streamline access, training and decision-making, and reduces the risk of rework and delays due to misinstalled deck elements.
  1. Embrace drones and automated workflows: The choice of drones that your team uses is foundational to getting quality data as your input. After selecting a high-quality drone, the convergence of drone hardware, software and internal processes all come together to deliver pre-pour reports that have the potential to save your team hundreds of man hours.
  1. Workflow establishment is key: The tool is a facilitator, not a magic solution. Wilson emphasizes the need to proactively establish workflows with the team, tailored to the tool's capabilities. This means ensuring the field team is brought in so they can leverage the reports right away, and timing flights so that there’s sufficient time to fix issues before the big pour date. 
  1. Build trust and manage expectations: Trust is foundational to success. Establishing trust involves transparent communication about both capabilities and limitations. Being honest about what the tool can deliver ensures a collaborative partnership focused on shared growth. Now, that 5 a.m. concrete pour can start with ease of mind, knowing that tools like the Concrete Sleeve AI Report will provide better communication and collaboration across the team.

Ready to implement the Concrete Sleeve AI Reports on your projects and experience these benefits yourself? Get in touch here, or reach out directly to your Customer Success Manager to get started.

About the Author

Nicole Heger
Nicole Heger

Nicole Heger is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at DroneDeploy, specializing in the AEC industry. Based in Austin, Texas, she works to help customers adopt innovative technology on their jobsites to save time and eliminate costs.

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