You’ve probably been hearing a lot about drones lately. What you might not have heard is how useful they can be in the construction industry.

This spring, Reed invested in a drone to fly over our various job sites, and we quickly found that its capabilities far exceeded our expectations. The model we purchased is a DJI Phantom 2:


Per FAA regulations, we operate our drone at an altitude of 400 feet (though it has the capability to reach 1,600 feet). It is controlled from the ground by one of our team members, and has an operation range of around 1,000 feet. So far, we have clocked the most flight time at one of our current ground-up projects, a new medical office building for Riverside Healthcare sitting on a 25-acre plot in Frankfort, Illinois. We are able to plug in GPS coordinates and send it off to obtain footage of specific areas, which is helpful on a job this size.

Since breaking ground in April, we have used the drone during each phase of construction to capture high-definition aerial videos and stills. We can then turn those into visual “progress reports” to share with the client.

Drone_Test Flight_Team Concrete Pour_10 Footage of the first concrete pour for the MOB foundation. Another area of the job site - we are also completing over 20 acres of site improvements and infrastructure for future development on the property.

Aside from giving us a unique new vantage point on job sites, the drone has also proven effective from a marketing perspective. We can use the aerial photos to showcase our work in pitch packages and other collateral pieces. We can also play video clips at trade shows or client presentations, and post photo updates on our social media platforms. We even brought it to a recent golf tournament that we sponsored and were able to capture some great shots of the crowd during opening remarks.

Attendees of the 2015 Riverside Healthcare Pro-Am wave to the camera.

Ultimately, we want to expand our use of the drone, which could potentially include more comprehensive site surveying, laser scanning (for hard-to-reach places within our interior jobs), and even monitoring our sites to ensure that safety protocols are being met. Innovation is one of our core values, so we believe it’s critical to stay abreast of the latest trends in job site technology. This small machine has already proven its worth, and we are excited to see how we can continue to build on that in the future.



Scott Pickands is Executive Vice President at Reed Construction in Chicago, and oversees both the Healthcare and Ground-Up Teams.