Among the many tech-driven trends in fleet management that we’re seeing today, fleets of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drone fleets, are one of the most unique and fascinating. Businesses large and small are employing drones to carry out a number of tasks, from aerial photography to delivery of goods. This has given rise to the need for a new type of fleet management, specifically designed for the U.S. drone fleet.
Drone Fleet Uses
You’ve likely heard that large companies like Amazon and UPS are creating drone fleets to help with package delivery. But the use of commercial drones goes far beyond this aerial delivery concept. Here are a few other drone fleet uses you may not be aware of:
- Warehouse management: From inventory to the retrieval of goods, large warehouses are one of the most common places to see drones at work on a daily basis.
- Aerial photography: Used in journalism, construction sites, and real estate among other industries, drones have become one of the best ways to get an “eye in the sky” today.
- Disaster management: In the case of a flood or other large scale disaster where roads and pathways may be unpassable, drones allow first responders to survey the damage and search out those who need help safely and efficiently.
- Weather forecasting: Drones are allowing weather forecasters to more accurately track and forecast tornadoes, hail, and other types of weather without putting personnel at risk.
- Crop monitoring: Farms with hundreds of acres of crops now have a more efficient way of checking on their fields and determining where trouble spots are developing.
- Security: Law enforcement and private security firms are using drones to more efficiently patrol trouble areas from the safety of a command room.
Drone Fleet Management
Just as vehicle fleets need strong fleet management practices to boost efficiency and productivity, the same is true for drone fleet and aerospace management. However, drones can’t be managed in precisely the same way trucks and other fleets are. They have their own challenges to be overcome. Here we’ll explore some of the most pressing concerns for drone fleets and drone fleet management.
Because drones are still in their infancy for commercial applications, the regulations surrounding them are currently in flux. Those drones employed indoors are likely to have fewer regulatory headaches than those used outside in the community. In some areas there may be few compliance issues to worry about, while in others fleet managers must be aware of a number of regulatory challenges that determine where and how drones can be employed.
Fleet managers who oversee a drone fleet must be aware of these regulations and the changes that seem to be constantly evolving in the industry. They must keep track of various no-fly zones in their region as well as FAA regulations regarding unmanned aerial vehicles. And they must maintain appropriate records to prove their compliance in the event of a legal dispute.
Safety at the Forefront
While it may seem that drones can only make a workplace safer since they’re unmanned, there are still a number of safety concerns related to the use of drone fleets. Much like commercial trucks, drone operators should conduct inspections pre- and post-flight. They must ensure flight patterns don’t overlap or conflict. And they must ensure that any cargo is adequately secured. It’s also important to train workers who will be sharing space with drones so they know what to look out for and how to best work alongside these unmanned miniature aircrafts.
Telematics and Reporting
Just like vehicular fleets can gain a wealth of knowledge from telematics data, so too can drone fleet managers benefit. Understanding exactly how drones are being used and when is key to optimizing the use of a drone fleet. Maintenance is also a key area where telematics reporting can be invaluable, as unmanned vehicles make it harder to spot trouble before it becomes a major fault. Managers must also monitor battery power and ensure an adequate power bank for each drone in the fleet. All of these concerns are best monitored in real-time by a full-featured telematics program with customized reporting.
Pilots and Personnel
Yes, drones are unmanned, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have pilots. Drone pilots operate their vehicles remotely. Depending on the situation, this may be entirely hands-on or may involve pre-programming a route and then keeping an eye on progress. Whatever type of pilot you’re employing, as a fleet manager you are responsible for ensuring that they have adequate training and supervision to conduct their jobs safely and in accordance with all applicable regulations.
Fleet management is an ever-evolving field. To keep up with the competition, be sure to implement smart fleet tracking software. Azuga Fleet™ could be the answer your fleet needs to help boost productivity, improve safety, and save you thousands.