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Own It Or Outsource It? Tips for Drone Decision Making

As your company evaluates the value drones can bring to your jobsites, you may be asking yourself: Should we own our own drone operations or do we outsource to drone service providers? Here are some quick tips to help you evaluate the advantages of each option.


The rapid growth and relatively low initial investment required to purchase a commercial drone may make it an attractive addition to your company. Here are a few of the advantages of adding a drone to your assets.

Advantage: Owning May Be More Cost-Effective
If you have jobs that support flying drones regularly, adding drone assets may make the most financial sense. Startup costs for a drone operation are relatively low, and training and information are readily available online.
With the growing number of packaged solutions available, you can scale your entry into drone operations to match your specific business needs.

Advantage: Adds to Your Team’s Expertise
If the numbers look good, your team’s familiarity with the work and each other may be a good reason to consider an in-house approach. Your staff will know your work and processes best, including how new technology is adopted, what challenges might arise and the best way for dealing with them.

Advantage: Expands Collaboration Across Your Team
New technology on site always sparks productive conversation, and drones are no different. Customers report that drone-mapping software makes daily communication more efficient and more accurate. This common information source provides a solid platform for collaboration and communication across functions.


If you see the need for drone services but don’t feel like your company is quite ready to take on drone operations, a drone services contactor may deliver the advantages you’re looking for.

Advantage: You Don’t Have to Be a Drone Regulation Expert
For commercial drones, there are a variety of regulations that determine what can and can’t be done. To ensure safety and compliance, the airspace restrictions need to be checked before each flight. Proper line-of-sight as well as altitude and speed restrictions must be evaluated. If you don’t want the responsibility of staying on top of these regulations, contracting drone services will remove much of that responsibility.

Advantage: Practiced Image Creation and Analysis
To get the most value from drone operations, you need someone who is able to not only produce accurate, high-quality images and maps, but also output and analyze them in the formats best suited to each situation. Some companies report they just don’t have enough work to build up that level of experience quickly. Outsourcing allows you to get the expertise only when you need it.

Advantage: Less Risk Management Responsibility
In general, drone operation is safe. But construction sites are dangerous places, and safety is a constant challenge. A contracted service provider brings experience from many jobsites and can help your teams use established safety practices for drones. Plus, you avoid the documentation and procedures that might be required for insurance.

Advantage: Opportunity to “Pilot” a Program
Doing a test run with a drone service provider is a good way to assess the value drones could bring before making a full investment in hardware, software, training, certification and insurance.

A Bit of Both?

Depending on the types of work you do, your decision about drones may not be just own or hire—it may be some combination of the two. Perhaps you want to get an internal team started on drone operations while at the same time utilizing and learning from drone service suppliers. Or you may want to take on local jobsites and work with drone service suppliers on sites in different geographic areas.

If you have questions or just want to talk about the possibilities for your company, your local Cat® dealer has resources to help, or you can learn more about more about drones in construction here.