The drone revolution is disrupting a broad spectrum of industries ranging from agriculture, mining, transport & logistics, to filmmaking. The addressable market value of drone powered solutions is valued at over $127 bn, according to a report recently issued by PwC on the application of drone powered solutions. This is the value of current business services and labour that are likely to be replaced in the near future by drone powered solutions. The industry with the best prospects for drone applications is infrastructure, with a total addressable market value of about $45.2 bn.
With drones poised to have an impact on the business operations of companies in a broad range of industry sectors, PwC has established a global centre of excellence that uses drones and advanced data analytics to help clients solve their business challenges.
Andrew Shaw, Capital Projects & Infrastructure Leader for PwC Africa, adds: “We are currently in discussion with several major South African companies from a wide range of industries about how they can use drones to improve their business processes. Using the analytic data collection ability of drones allows companies with complex infrastructure delivery and maintenance requirements to accurately assess the quality of their assets either under construction or already in operation. There is no doubt that drones are making the transition from a novelty item to an indispensable business tool and that the analytical capabilities they provide is evolving very rapidly and will change the nature of certain industries.”
PwC Advanced Image Analytics & Drone Powered Solutions converging to deliver new insights
Four years ago, PwC made a decision to invest in the PwC Global Centre of Excellence called Drone Powered Solutions. Our experts combine data acquisition by drones or if needed other aerial data sources with advanced image analytics, photogrammetry and machine learning. This through data fusion, enables us to accurately measure and evaluate in less than 1cm detail all aspects of objects in the field.
In addition, such results provide crucial insights for our clients and work well with existing PwC range of services achieving new levels of quality. Drone powered solutions are best suited to sectors that require both mobility and a high quality of data. Specifically, businesses that manage assets dispersed over large areas have a long history of issues that new drone powered solutions can address. Large-scale capital projects, infrastructure maintenance and agriculture can all benefit enormously from the integration of drones into day-to-day business. Insurance and mining will find potential process improvements as they gain new levels of data quality and accessibility.
Michal Mazur, Partner and Global Head of Drone Powered Solutions at PwC, says: “Drones and the data they provide are a game changer over the entire lifecycle of a transport and energy infrastructure investment. Provision of real-time, accurate and comparable 3D modelling data is crucial during the pre-construction, construction and operational phases of an investment project, and all of this data can be acquired by intelligent and cost-effective drone powered solutions”.
South Africa’s regulatory framework makes provision for the use of drone technologies in daily operations
Many countries have legislative barriers against the use of drone based solutions. However, South Africa’s legislative framework on drone powered solutions is considered to be advanced in that it makes provision for the commercial use of drone powered solutions. Commercially used drones must be registered with the South African Civil Aviation Authority. In order to obtain the licenses for operating drones commercially, pilots must attend a RPAS training programme. They are also required to carry a valid third party liability insurance document. Safety precautions are taken legally, in that drones must be flown within 400 feet horizontally and within the visual line of sight.
The legislation also makes provision for markets that have taken the initiative to use this solution. An example of where drone powered solutions thrive is the transportation infrastructure, gas & oil and energy transmission for maintenance and capital projects supervision, mining for operations control and agriculture for vegetation analytics as well as the spraying process.
Africa is becoming the fastest growing region in terms of investments in the transport infrastructure
The increasing applications of drone technology in transport infrastructure projects comes at a time of large investment and heavy competition in the industry. PwC’s research estimates that investments in transport infrastructure will bring global growth in capital expenditures of 4.5% annually between now and 2020. The regions with the highest forecast increases are Africa and Latin America, where investments in transport infrastructure will double by 2020. According to PwC’s new study Clarity from above: transport infrastructure, the pace of adoption of drone powered solutions in the road and railway sectors will be driven by three main factors: financial and legal support, enhancing data processing & accessibility, and rapid technological development.
Drone technologies can be used at almost every stage in the transport infrastructure sector, starting from construction and investment monitoring, through maintenance, up to asset inventory. During construction, data gained through drones can facilitate rapid reactions to any deviations from the plan, and in extreme cases might be used as evidence in litigation. For example, in one construction project supervised by Drone Powered Solutions, the investor had savings of about $2.94 million in claims settlement litigation thanks to unparalleled evidence.
Other applications range from the detection and prevention of trespassing, to placement of trench protection to enhancing site safety. For instance, the PwC Drone Powered Solutions team has calculated that the number of life threating accidents on an average construction site monitored by drones has been decreased by up to 91%.
Drone Powered Solutions – PwC Centre of Excellence
Drone Powered Solutions (DPS) is a Global Centre of Excellence located in Europe. The team helps clients from various industries to maximise the potential benefits offered to their business by drone technologies.
Established in 2014, it is the world’s first professional services consulting team dedicated to industrial and business applications of drone technology. Over time, DPS has worked with clients from various industries on testing and deploying applications of drone technology in their operations. Drone technology proves to be a powerful tool for many sectors of the economy.
The full PwC reports about drone technologies can be found at www.dronepoweredsolutions.com.
Senior Manager, Media Relations, PwC South Africa
Tel: +27 (0) 11 797 4470