At QAD, we’ve been making use of drones for a few years now in the Marketing department — mainly for aerial photography. Folks here have gotten pretty used to being buzzed by the drone during company events and functions. We use them for fun, but you may have heard some other stories about them in the news more recently.
Drone Hobbyists and Consumers Beware
There have been many stories in the news lately about unmanned aircraft system (UAS), more commonly known as drones.
- California banned paparazzi drones.
- A drone recently crash-landed inside the University of Kentucky football stadium.
- A drone operator was even arrested on charges of reckless endangerment after hovering above tennis players at the U.S. Open in Queens, New York.
The news isn’t all bad, drones have also been in the spotlight for saving lives.
- A drone helped saved the day earlier this year by dropping a rope lifeline to a couple whose home was surrounded by fast-moving floodwaters.
- Since its founding, Texas Equusearch’s drones have been involved in over 1,400 searches in 42 states and eight foreign countries, and have found over 300 missing people alive.
There are many people taking an interest in drones as of late, and with companies like DJI making more technologically advanced drones, they are becoming more and more commonly used by the general public. Late last year the FAA launched its Know Before You Fly campaign to clearly define the guidelines for hobbyists, like flying no higher than 400 feet.
Manufacturers Keep An Open Mind When It Comes To Drones
Drones aren’t just toys. Many are predicting that drones will change the industrial world and could one day play a significant role in supply chain logistics. Amazon is top-of-mind when I think of how businesses might use drones. In April, the company was granted a patent for its delivery drones using a person’s smartphone to track their location making anytime, anywhere delivery a real possibility.
Here are a few use cases to think about:
- Asset monitoring – a colleague of mine launched a company that uses drones for disease detection and irrigation management in vineyards. Watch his story on TedX. Imagine if drones were used in warehouses to take inventory and monitor asset status; I remember the days of manually taking inventory counts and I’m not sure anyone would miss it!
- Internal Delivery – we all know that time and productivity makes the difference between profits and losses. Moving materials on the shop floor or delivering parts from one warehouse to the next could streamline business processes, increase efficiencies and significantly impact the bottom line. Using drones to move boxes offers several benefits like the ability to reconfigure to and from points of transportation, the ability to increase capacity by adding drones, and the ability to load trucks/containers at the outbound dock.
- Palletizing – a material-handling company based in the Netherlands is studying the use of drones for picking goods off shelves and assembling them into pallet loads inside a warehouse. The company envisions manufacturers of consumer products using drones to design a compact, flexible and scalable palletizing process.
Drones aren’t just fun gadgets or an invasion of privacy, they are actually another form of machine-to-machine integration. IoT is enabling machines to communicate with sensor-equipped technology and the manufacturing world as we know it is sure to be impacted by such innovative technology. Fellow manufacturers – inquiring minds want to know – are you using drones at work? Leave a comment below to share your story.