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Drones Are Flying On Miami Of Ohio Campus

University Making Effort To Increase Efficiency For Building Inspections

Drones have been hovering near buildings on the Miami of Ohio campus recently inspecting the roofs and gutters of those structures.

The school's Lean project looked at how drones could be used on campus to increase efficiency, and one idea was to use them for visual inspections of roofs, gutters, chimneys and cupolas. Normally a lift is used to enable employees and contractors to do inspections and repairs.

After Miami chose Rapid Aerial as its time and materials contractor for drone services, physical facilities had them inspect four academic buildings that are difficult to access due to their height and location: Benton and Pearson halls and the engineering and psychology buildings.

Rapid Aerial also recently inspected Miami’s residence and dining halls. Students are notified three days in advance anytime a drone will be flown near their residence hall, although the camera cannot see into the rooms due to its angle.

The drone is operated by one contractor who slowly scans the entire roof, takes photos of problem areas and sends the photos to physical facilities.

The advantages of using drones for inspections include:

  • Decreasing the damage to lawns from using lifts. Even though physical facilities staff do things to minimize damage to the ground, like putting plywood under the lifts, there is inevitably some ground repair work that has to take place.
  • Increasing the frequency of inspections for buildings that are hard to reach. Some buildings are hard to reach due to the topography of the ground around them or the height of the buildings. To take photos of these buildings with a lift would require scaffolding to get to the roof.
  • Inspecting the workmanship of new buildings still under warranty. In addition to using drones to find areas that need maintenance or have leaves accumulating in the gutters, they can also use them to inspect the workmanship of new buildings to see if repairs are needed while the buildings are still under warranty.
  • Saving time. Since using drones for inspections shows which buildings need maintenance, it saves the time of someone using a lift to inspect the buildings. This enables staff to do other tasks.

“We will be able to more strategically target the areas of concern and not spend time moving a lift and looking at areas that don’t need attention,” said Jeff Johnson, director of environmental health and safety.

Johnson said physical facilities is collecting metrics from the recent drone inspections to determine the cost avoidance. Miami uses a contractor to remove leaves from the gutters of the residence and dining halls, so using a drone for inspections may save money since it will show which areas need attention.

(Image provided with Miami of Ohio news release. Dennis Fisher of Rapid Aerial operates a drone to inspect Miami buildings [photo by Shavon Anderson])

FMI: www.miamioh.edu

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