New facilities management firm Aerial FM is off to a flying start by using commercial drone technology to provide services in the FM sector.

But why is the ability to pilot an unmanned aircraft important to a facilities manager or property manager?

Drones help Grant Currie, MD of Aerial and his colleagues to quickly and efficiently carry out building assessments and surveys or obtain images that can be used in marketing a property for sale or lease. When surveying high-level or high-risk areas, drone flying is safer and less expensive than hiring access equipment and calling out a contractor to inspect. Using a combination of high-tech photography, 4K video and thermal imaging, drones can be used to diagnose and report on roof leaks, storm damage, roof defects and weathering issues.

Currie has spent over 20 years managing UK shopping centres, commercial office buildings, distribution and storage warehousing, manufacturing plants and retail outlets. He said, “We’ve heard about multinational companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon using drones to do jobs such as mapping, providing Wi-Fi services and delivering packages but what about the FM sector?“An unmanned drone can access the external envelope of a building more quickly, safely and cost-effectively than other forms of access. In terms of obtaining data, they can be a lot easier and more flexible. “A drone can be used to conduct a general video or photographic assessment of the roof to identify any accelerated weathering, dislodged slate or stone tiles, damaged flashing and the condition of guttering and downpipes".”If we are able to remove the need to initially access a roof for inspection, remove additional access expense and assess the roof more quickly using unmanned aircraft technology, then we make it easier, quicker, cheaper and safer to assess fragile and unsafe roofs, chimneys, guttering, building fabric, glazing and roof mounted plant.

“Aerial thermal technology is now widely available for unmanned aircraft that allows energy assessors and landlords to obtain detailed thermal assessments of their building’s energy loss and assist with the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) process. The ability to fly over a building at height and scan the thermal properties of the roof, building fabric and glazing is another significant advancement within our industry and makes for a quicker and less intrusive assessment. “My hope is that we will continue to see this incredible technology being widely used to advance our industry and make it significantly safer.”