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Civil Contractor Digs Deep into Drone Data Potential

As a forward-thinking civil contractor, Florida-based RIPA & Associates has taken a big picture approach to its deployment of drones in support of construction projects. The firm first began evaluating capabilities three years ago, with a focus on gathering actionable information. 

“We weren’t looking for marketing images—we wanted real intel,” said Don Campbell, senior manager at RIPA responsible for purchasing, IT and field technology departments. 
Not long after, the firm adopted Trimble Stratus Powered by Propeller. Since those early days, the data gathered from the aerial platform has become a measurement and quality control tool for nearly every group in the company. 
The initial user base was project managers who regularly use the technology for flight-by-flight comparisons and production tracking. Today, that user base has expanded to estimators, field superintendents and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System/ Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (NPDES/SWPPP) inspectors. The firm’s environmental department uses Trimble Stratus to monitor if fencing is down, if dirt is in the wrong place, or a pond has washed out. Purchasing uses the drone technology to verify if pipe loads have been delivered by monitoring the site from the air with the accurate tools the platform provides. Further, RIPA’s fleet department uses it to manage material and equipment transports and jobsite access.
Campbell added, “The platform is very dynamic with a lot of cross capabilities for a large gamut of tech and non-tech savvy users. Our senior managers and executives use the data to track projects. The data has become so integral to our processes.”

Today, drone data is a requirement on nearly every job. RIPA currently has two full time pilots and a third model builder. “It’s allowing us to be more efficient with our time use,” said Campbell. “We are better, more efficient, we solve problems more proactively and in a timelier manner. For us, it’s another spice in our larger service recipe. It has become an invaluable tool to our project teams. I think there would be an uprising if we turned it off.”