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You just saw yet another news article about a company using drones for their business and are thinking,

“We need to do that here!”

I know exactly how you feel.  That was me too, back in 2011.

But back then, it was about 3-D printing.  I could see that this revolutionary technology was transforming my industry.  But from where I sat, my company was letting this valuable innovation leave us in the dust.

That day I made a very small but life-changing decision. I picked myself to be the person who would figure out how to get 3-D printing into my company.

Maybe you work in a big company where jobs are rigidly defined, only a few mysterious people get to work on their own special projects, and everybody has soul-crushing annual performance reviews.  

we need innovation with drones

I can relate to that!

Back in 2011, I was working in a B-as-in-BIG aerospace company.  You’ve probably heard of it…

There were 5,000 employees at my company site.  People had been trying to bring 3-D printing into the company for the past 7-10 years.  What made me think I could do anything better or different?  (Hint – it’s largely about the timing.)

Now is the most essential time to figure out how to bring unmanned aerial drones into your company operations.)  New Part 107 rules for SUAS (small unmanned aerial systems) from the FAA are one key reason. They will become law in the United States at the end of August 2016.

Maybe you work in a small to medium-sized company, like an architecture or civil engineering firm.  From my time working in two engineering consulting firms, I can say that you are in a perfect position to bring an unmanned aerial system (UAS) into your business.

After I made the decision that my company needed 3-D printing, I started a remarkable journey.  Spoiler alert: in less than 6 months a small group of engineers, technicians, and managers were holding a fresh part in our hands, made from our very own 3-D printer.

Here is one of our early proof of concept parts.  It is a structural beam that has deformations and color contours to show the stress load.

3d printing part

The disruptive innovation of 3-D printing proved its value very quickly.  Within the first 6 months, a crisis occurred on the factory floor when a major assembly from a supplier didn’t install properly onto an aircraft.  

A root cause corrective action (RCCA) team was immediately formed.  They determined that the smartest approach was to design and build a unique tool to measure the dimensions and tolerances of the supplier assembly in order to check it against the drawings.  

Knowing this information was critical to determining the next steps.  And every aircraft on the production line was scheduled to move forward to the next station in a couple of days.  Halting the production line was the worst fear of many people.  

The sharp team of manufacturing engineers and tool designers designed a part that looked like a super-sized caliper.  Now the question – how to fabricate this quickly and get it into the hands of someone on the shop floor?

Our traditional vendor selection and fabrication process to build a tool out of aluminum or composites would have taken weeks, assuming it would need a competition (which almost all subcontracts did).  But now we had this capability in house, much faster.

The design team sent the digital file to our 3-D printing team on a Friday.  They worked over the weekend.  On Monday, the tool was on the shop floor.  It revealed not just one or two, but THREE dimensional errors with the assembly.

The RCCA team immediately got help from management to address all 3 discrepancies.  Solutions were identified and implemented before the production line had to move forward.  This saved millions of dollars in job interruptions, payment delays, “wild good chases,” and all of the customer displeasure that would have resulted.

That’s one example of how 3-D printing can transform a high tech manufacturing business.  It was a team effort with a lot of different disciplines working together.  But 3-D printing saved the day by getting a custom-designed physical tool to the factory floor before the line had to be shut down.

Back to drones – are you in the business of land surveying or site surveying?  How would you like to plan and conduct your surveys in ACRES PER MINUTE instead of acres per hour?  That’s what an autonomous aerial drone can do for you.

Do you do bridge inspections or exterior building inspections?  How would you like to get a birds-eye view of your structure without a crane or a lift?  Not just any birds-eye view, but a hummingbird view!  Hover right in front of the joint or the crack that you care about.  

That’s what a remotely piloted aircraft can do for you.  (Don’t try it autonomously.  The technology isn’t quite there yet.)

We are living in an incredible age of disruptive innovations.  Aerial drones are only one of them.  As someone who has been a passionate student of history, culture, engineering, and aerospace for a few decades, I’m confident to say that unmanned aircraft are going to revolutionize our world more than jet engines transformed our world after piston engines.

Major changes coming in the years ahead! 

We need people and companies to capture the benefits of aerial drones for Good – so they can benefit our lives, our economy, and our culture.  I’m on a mission to bring the benefits of unmanned aircraft to as many people as possible.  That’s why I am working hard on a course to help people like YOU bring drones into their business.

Sign up on my private email list, and you’ll work with me to learn everything you need to know.  Here is the current outline for a course I’m building for project managers, leaders, and linchpins in companies who want to start using drones for commercial use:

  1. Course Overview – What to expect, what you will learn, who you will become
  2. Current state of UAS – The law, technology, success stories, lessons learned
  3. Selling commercial drones inside your company – How to be an intrapreneur
  4. Scope of UAS – Major capabilities and constraints
  5. Cost Estimating – Building the business case
  6. Schedule Planning – Plan for a lot of time up front
  7. Quality – The “secret sauce” of UAS
  8. Stakeholders – Who to look for – and look out for
  9. Procurement – To buy, build, or rent
  10. Risk management – People, cost, schedule, technical / quality
  11. Your role – Position yourself for success
  12. Action plan – Planning your work and working your plan, with accountability help and ongoing support

Have you been thinking about all of these things already?  If not, join with me to become successful with drone project management.

You might think that bringing a drone into your company operations is as simple as buying a popular drone like the DJI Phantom and learning how to fly it yourself.

DJI Phantom

Good luck with that!!

Maybe I’ll see you again in 2-4 months after you’ve crashed your $1,500 drone because you lost the GPS signal as you were trying to fly under a bridge for an aerial inspection.  D’oh!

That one small tip might have just saved you $2,000 and weeks of setback.  Not to mention the huge embarrassment in your company.  It’s just a hint of what you’ll gain when you have someone like me helping you bring the benefits of UAVs into your company.

Or you can wait to realize that you’ll have to become an expert in other disciplines like photography, video editing, air traffic control communications, electromagnetic interference, drone insurance…

So you might assume it is better and easier to find a local professional UAS pilot, then ask him or her to come into your company for a presentation or a demo.  

But what if you arrange a site survey or job visit and these kids shows up?

There’s no reason to be surprised or reluctant to find a female drone operator.  There are many of them out there (and it would be great to see more).  And even though the minimum age for a Part 107 Certification is 16 years old, do you want to start with someone of that age?

They may be great drone pilots… but are they certified by the FAA to fly drones for commercial use?  Does he or she have enough insurance?  Do they have a company established?  Does they have a portfolio of quality work that is comparable to and relevant for your needs?  

In a nutshell, is he or she a PROFESSIONAL DRONE PILOT – or a hobbyist?

These are just some of the essential questions you need to ask.  You’ll get a complete checklist of essential questions and qualifications in my course, which you can learn about here.

While hiring a UAS operator does have many advantages that you’ll learn about in my course on how to be a UAS Project Manager, you can’t let this outside operator run the entire show.  Someone needs to represent your company and your company’s interests — including your client.

Whether you want drones in construction, drones in civil engineering, or drones in engineering for another application, I want to help you find the best path forward to project management success.

If you are reading this article in the summer of 2016, it’s an extra opportunity for you.  Two reasons:

First, the new FAA Part 107 rules become official law in the end of August 2016.  By starting your journey now, you will be on the leading edge of innovation compared to most of your competitors.

Second, I am still developing the course content.  People who connect with me now will have 1-on-1 discussions with me so I can learn more about your specific situation and needs, then tailor the course content to serve you specifically.

Would you like your own coach, mentor, and advisor to become the project manager for unmanned aircraft operations in your company?

Just click on this link and enter your email that says sign me up now!

In case you are wondering, I will not be your UAS pilot.  I am not selling my services to be a UAS pilot or operator.

My goal is to help YOU be the leader or linchpin within your company to bring in unmanned drones successfully so you can start realizing their benefits – safely, legally, and profitably.

Maybe that means you become the remote UAS pilot for your company.  Maybe it means you hire someone to do it for you.  

You’ll learn the pros and cons of both approaches from my course so you can make the decision that is best for your business.

Get in touch with me here, and let’s bring the benefits of unmanned aerial drones into your company ASAP.

Thanks for having the vision, determination, and courage to pick yourself for this fun adventure.  Upward and onward we go!

Brett Hoffstadt, PMP

drones in construction

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Brett Hoffstadt is a Project Management Professional (PMP) with a love for doing projects that make a unique difference. One of those projects could be helping you achieve success with your project!

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