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It’s all about the end-to-end drone package for Enterprise

Jul 25, 2017

            

Originally appeared on sUAS News.

The market place for drones and Enterprise solutions is a busy place. There are likely thousands of companies offering drone-based solutions to Enterprise. Everything from a managed service to drone pilot training to some form of software platform. The options for the Enterprise customer are plenty and varied. The difficult task for Enterprise is finding the solution that offers the right value and the right product. Value doesn’t simply mean financial. Value comes in many forms: experience; expertise; market vertical knowledge; operational understanding; technology…the list is long.

If you are an Enterprise about to embark on bringing a drone capability in-house, what is it that you need to get started? Where do you go to get that end-to-end solution?

With almost 7 years of experience in the drone market place, Sky-Futures have seen the emergence of a lot of companies providing excellent solutions to specific industry problems but very few offering a complete package. These ‘single instance’ solutions work well in isolation but they still require Enterprise to go elsewhere for the other links in the chain.

Several years we saw that the market was changing. We recognised that as drones commoditised and became more automated it would make better financial and operational sense for Enterprise to bring this capability in-house. An in-house drone program also allows for greater operational flexibility; get the data when you want it not when your service provider can get it for you.

If you are thinking about starting a drone-based inspection program in your company, the best solution for you is an end-to-end drone package. Listed below are 3 key areas you should want as part of the package to help you get your drone operation off the ground:

  1. Training is so much more than learning how to fly a drone. The drone is the device that supports the sensor(s) that collect the data you want. If the pilot doesn’t know how to collect high quality, usable data sets in a safe manner then they are not adding value. Find a training school that has a purpose-built facility and one that teaches real-to-life, scenario based inspection training. You want your company pilot to be taught how to use the drone as an inspection tool. Flying figures of 8 in the back yard of a hotel is not the right training for your company drone pilots.
  2. Consultancy: Find a company who knows what it means to set up and run a drone operation. They will then be able to pass on their experience and expertise to you. Look for a provider who can deliver a range of services including everything from a bespoke Operations Manual, country specific drone licenses, inspection and data capture procedures to setting up a formal Safety Management System (SMS). A drone operation needs to reflect the workings of a manned aviation business. The drone is still an aircraft and there must be a high standard of internal compliance.
  3. Software: An in-house drone operation includes both the drone mission planning element and the data analysis and inspection reporting. Look for software that can provide you with this end-to-end capability. It is also important to mirror your existing inspection workflow with a software platform that compliments it. Sky-Futures Expanse Flightdeck and Inspection platform delivers an end-to-end solution support not only mission planning but data analysis and delivery. This ensures compliance, management oversight and a high-quality data product.

The final bit of advice is to think about what the end goal is – usable data. Drones can provide Enterprise with high quality, consistent and repeatable data sets if there is a professional operation set up to deliver this. However, to get there, it is important to recognise the value of the 3 key elements listed above. If you can find a provider who can deliver an end-to-end package then you have found the key to a successful Enterprise drone operation.

For more information on how Sky-Futures can support your company in building an in-house drone-based inspection solution please contact cblackford@sky-futures.com