Drone delivery to help boost Australian construction and maintenance

25/11/2020

With Australians spending more time at home during COVID, many are also now taking the opportunity to renovate. Whether it is a new coat of paint for the study, landscaping the garden, or a complete bathroom makeover, construction and maintenance work can create headaches for homeowners and tradespeople alike when tradies do not have the right tools or parts to complete the job. 

It is an all-too familiar story. A carpenter without the right drill bit might have to knock-off the tools to go to the hardware store, which has a ripple-on delay effect for the other tradespersons working on site.

In Australia, tradespeople make 60 million unplanned trips to the store each year to collect hardware items or tools they either run out of, or did not know they needed until commencing a job. At an average of one hour each, these interruptions cost more than $2 billion each year in labour and vehicle expenses.

New economic modelling from AlphaBeta has shown that tradespeople in Australia made unplanned trips to the hardware store one in every three jobs. By replacing a share of these trips, drone delivery could save time and money for both households and the construction and maintenance industry. 

“Having items delivered by drone is definitely something to look forward to. It would save two or three of us having to go off to different job sites, or different hardware stores in order to find what we need,” Apprentice Carpenter for CBC Projects Jonah Ale said recently.

Browns Plains Hardware Owner, Paul Charlton, was one of the first small businesses in Australia to offer residential drone delivery of hardware items such as screws, drill bits, and paint brushes. Paul sees significant benefits in the future of drone delivery directly to worksites. 

“Drone delivery presents a big opportunity for tradespeople when they are working on a job. Their time is money, and they do not want to drop tools to leave the job site for 30 minutes or more, when they can get what they need straight away,” Mr Charlton said.

According to a recent study by AlphaBeta, by replacing a share of the unplanned trips construction and maintenance tradespeople need to make to the store, drone delivery has the potential to benefit both households and businesses. 

According to the AlphaBeta study, delivery could save households:

  • $120 million each year on construction and maintenance work.
  • 1.5 million hours of time spent waiting for tradespeople to pick up items during maintenance jobs by replacing just 10 per cent of trips to the store.
  • Up to $2500 and reduce build time by one week on a $250,000 renovation.

Mollyrose89, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Drone delivery could also save construction and maintenance businesses:

  • $285 million each year in labour and vehicle expenses.
  • Two to three days a year in apprentices time spent picking up items offsite, freeing up their time for on-the-job learning.
  • The time needed for trades teams to complete one more construction project and 10 additional maintenance jobs each year.