Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Drones over Facebook: Technology captures progress on $1B data center campus (Video)


A visitor to Facebook’s data center campus in Fort Worth can barely make out the whir of the drone as it flies overhead — much like a Roomba Robot Vacuum — taking a predetermined path in the sky, scooping up photos and data.

The drone technology used at the Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB) data center campus in Fort Worth is part of DPR Construction’s plan to merge building information modeling (BIM) software with real-time drone photos — making a three-dimensional collage that adds value to the building process, said Chris Torres, the technology integration manager at DPR Construction.
“By far, we are paving the way in using drones on site operations,” Torres told the Dallas Business Journal. “You can do underground utility coordination before you even begin digging up the permits.”

DPR Construction uses licensed pilots to fly drones overheard to calculate dirt levels and other construction progress on the tract by using markers atop 1,100-pound, 30-feet concrete piers on the property near Texas 170 and Independence Parkway in Fort Worth.

Each marker adds a point of reference to help complete a robust picture of the project. The smaller the site, the more accurate the data, Torres said.
"More than anything, this makes sure what is being constructed is what was intended in the design and gives us transparency with contractors," he said. "It's a lagging indicator in the sense you are scanning something already in place, but it's a leading indicator in that you can make sure it's right before you move onto the next trade.

The Redwood City, Calif.-based general contractor has already moved nearly 1 million cubic yards of dirt as part of a mass excavation on the next phase of Facebook’s data center campus — all of which has been measured with the help of the drone footage.

“Construction has always been behind in technology, but in the last two or three years there’s been this convergence of construction and technology,” said Torres, who added use and application of drone technology is growing.

Torres said he expects to see drones see through canopies of trees, flying drone surveyors cutting down the time it takes to measure a property and augmented reality.

Meanwhile, DPR Construction is using the drones to track the construction progress and make sure the reality of the project pairs with the virtual design. The drones also help the security team in tracking down vehicles or taking a peek over a fence.

The company's BIM software team are all getting their drone pilot's license — bringing in another high-tech tool to the profession.
“We are not working our business around technology, we are trying to work the technology around our business,” said John Arcello, the project manager and partner on DPR’s leadership team.

In January, DPR Construction began moving dirt on the site adjacent to Facebook's newly completed data center facility, which includes a 440,103-square-foot data hall with a total of 34 megawatts upon build-out and a 69,755-square-foot administrative building.

Candace Carlisle/Dallas Business Journal.