In 2018, the global commercial drone market was worth USD 5.8 billion, with an estimated 275 thousand sales. The market is forecast to grow by over 60 percent in terms of volume from 2019 to 2025. Given how useful drones are, the soaring figures aren’t surprising. Many commercial and public activities — such as transportation services, media production, agriculture, disaster relief, construction, or research — increasingly rely on drones for daily operations.
The field service industry, where drones can address security challenges and minimize productivity gaps, is no exception. Even though no technology can single-handedly substitute a highly trained field technician, here are some ways drones can meaningfully support them.
Risk Mitigation For Field Technicians
The most prominent features of drones are their superpowers as delivery and surveillance assistants. These can support field technicians in many ways, from diagnosing a problem to fixing it.
Any height of 1.8 meters or above is accepted as a hazardous working condition. Many fatal workplace accidents happen as a result of falling from a high point. If a field technician cannot inspect an item such as a high door without a ladder or scaffolding, a drone with a camera can support them.
Likewise, if a technician needs to stand at a hazardous height, drones can hold their tools in the air next to them. Hence, the technician doesn’t have to carry any bulky items, possibly go up and down multiple times to fetch them, and they can focus on the job safely.
Additionally, drones can accurately diagnose a problem and allow technicians to fix them remotely, especially in hard-to-reach or dangerous areas. They can also provide valuable data about the job site via their acoustic and thermal sensors in such circumstances.
Faster and More Economic Service
The efficiency of a field technician and timely completion of their tasks are the top customer demands in the field service industry. Once a technician understands the issue to be fixed, they often need spare parts to perform it. However, depending on the job’s complexity, technicians might not have immediate access to these spare parts. The average transportation and delivery times can easily lead to disgruntled customers — but not with drones.
If the drone is connected with an online delivery system, it can even be possible to automate the order and transportation process. Thus, the spare parts delivered by drones can take a matter of hours instead of days or even weeks. This not only saves time and money, but it’s also more environmentally friendly.
From Robots to “Cobots” For Technician Support
Many techno-pessimists speculate how robots, including drones, might replace workers and hollow out service and manufacturing industries. However, there’s evidence that proves otherwise.
Instead of replacing field technicians or performing a large proportion of their duties, drones will act as “cobots” — collaborative robots. They’ll interact and collaborate with field technicians to address productivity gaps for faster and better business outcomes.
Drones overall will be more impactful than I think people recognize, in positive ways to help society.Bill Gates, entrepreneur and philanthropist, on the potential of drones
As the demand for drones soars, there’s no doubt their rising adaptation will lead technicians to be better at their jobs and take field service to new heights.