Komatsu takes aerial view of site surveying

Six Komatsu Australia in­-house pilots have recently received their ‘wings’ as certified drone operators, allowing for the ability to provide total site solution, site surveying services that are an improvement on ground-­based alternatives.

Komatsu national technology solution expert manager Aaron Marsh said obtaining the remote pilot licences was crucial for the company because it dovetails into its Smartconstruction integrated business model, providing a multitude of advantages for the initial site surveying stage and beyond.

“The main advantage of aerial surveying using unmanned aerial vehicles is that it is fast and accurate and creates efficiencies in subsequent construction stages such as earthmoving,” Marsh said.

“For example, the 3D drone data can be fed into our Komconnect application to automatically calculate the area and volume of earth to be moved and our customers can access it in real­time.

“Likewise, our factory­ integrated intelligent Machine Control machines operating on the ground can update the as­-built ground conditions as they go for accurate cut­ and­ fill volume reporting. The drone­ captured data can also be used for stockpile calculations and ongoing review of construction progress and site logistics.

“All round, it makes for a much more streamlined and therefore more economical process. What used to take days and weeks can now be completed with negligible manual effort.”

The remote pilot certifications were obtained via the Newcastle, New South Wales-­based specialist training company, Aviassist.

Marsh said the Komatsu pilots sat a week ­long intensive unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) course, certified by CASA, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, which Komatsu required to fly its drones commercially.

With the help of Aviassist and its training team, all six pilots completed the course. On course completion, Komatsu applied to CASA for a commercial operator’s license.

Komatsu employs Skycatch high ­accuracy survey quadcopter drones, which create sub five centimetre accurate 3D point clouds.

Aviassist managing director Ross Anderson said that while he recommended Komatsu pilots operate the drones, there were also other alternatives for customers to fly themselves or for their own pilots to use.

“With the Smartconstruction business, this really rounds out our offering providing an end­to­-end solution for our customers,” Anderson said.

“Now we can handle everything. We can fly the drones and collect the data and use that data through Komconnect, which is part of the Smartconstruction part of the business, or we can hand the data over to the customer. We’re conducting flights and doing demonstrations for customers right now so get in touch.”