The potential benefits of drone delivery for Australian construction and maintenance

November 25, 2020


Unplanned trips to the store represent a significant cost to Australia’s construction and maintenance industries. Across the country, tradespeople such as builders make a total of 60 million unplanned trips to the store each year to collect hardware items that they have either run out of or didn’t know they needed until commencing the job. These interruptions are costly. At an average of one hour each, they amount to $2 billion annually in labour and vehicle costs. They can also result in larger workflow disruptions, leading to lost time for clients and, in some cases, expensive contract penalties for delayed projects.

Residential construction projects account for more than a third of these unplanned trips (23 million) due to the size of the segment and the nature of these worksites. Each year, Australia spends $70 billion on residential construction projects, including some 150,000 new homes and major renovations. These worksites have limited administrative support and storage space for on-site inventory, meaning tradespeople are more likely to run out of items such as paint brushes, spark plugs, drill bits and others, and require a trip to the hardware store. Reducing these trips would benefit homeowners, construction and maintenance businesses, while amplifying the impact of the Federal Government’s HomeBuilder stimulus package which will fund 27,000 new projects in the coming months.

Even in non-residential projects, which are typically supported by administrative personnel such as quantity surveyors and dedicated purchasers, last-minute hardware shortages remain to some degree unavoidable. Trades teams on small and medium infrastructure projects make an average of one unplanned trip every two days to collect small tools and equipment such as nuts, bolts, switches and other hardware items. These trips represent a significant opportunity to improve productivity as governments look to fund more infrastructure in response to COVID-19.

For maintenance tradespeople such as plumbers, electricians, general maintenance and others, unplanned trips to the hardware store are typically needed once in every three jobs. Maintenance tradespeople often cannot determine the exact tools, materials or components they need for a job until physically inspecting the site. Most try to avoid unnecessary travel by arriving with an arsenal of common spare parts. Still, maintenance tradespeople make an estimated total of 15 million unplanned trips to the hardware store each year.

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Australia’s construction and maintenance industries, Drone delivery