The first step is not about the drone – it’s about the problem!

2. The first step to a successful drone program is not about the drone - it’s about the problem! Without a thorough understanding of the problem, everything else becomes wasted effort.
Blogs, June 1, 2020

When we speak to potential customers, one of the questions we get asked quite frequently is “what drone should I buy”? We tell them that the key to choosing the right drone for their application is recognising that it’s not about the drone at all. 

At the centre of it all is a problem that needs to be resolved, which is ultimately why the customer is attempting to implement a drone program in the first place. Without a thorough understanding of the problem, everything else becomes wasted effort.  

Drones are like a multi-tool: They can be used for very many different things. If you pick the wrong tool for the job, at worst, the project will fail. At best, your job might see a delay or elements within the job may not work properly.  

That’s when the real issues start because it may start to cost you time, money and resources, plus it could also increase risk to your organisation.  

There are two main areas you need to have sorted before you buy the drone: Understanding the problem and figuring out what the complete solution looks like. Then you can look at the drones available for that specific problem and the associated needs. 

Purchasing the drone and the other components of the systems comes after this, which we will cover in an upcoming blog.  

Understanding the problem 

At the end of the day, the drone itself (aka unmanned air vehicle) is just one component of the solution.  

When you are choosing a commercial drone the key question you need to answer is this: What problem are you trying to solve?  

There are many aspects to fully understanding the problem.  

For example, you need to understand why you are looking to implement a drone program. What are your organisations strategic objectives? How does the drone program fit into them? What measures will the drone program affect (safety, cost, capability etc.)? Are there any constraints? 

You also need to be clear on what tasks your drone will be doing. If they are collecting information to enable a decision, what kind of information do they need to collect, and under what conditions? If they are generating an effect, how will they do this? Are there any constraints? 

It is also useful to have a clear idea of exactly how your drone will be used. What is the concept of operations? Will they be travelling long distances, or over people, or in congested airspace?  

If you understand the problem well, you will be able to generate a prioritised list of requirements for your project, for both the physical system and the enabling system. This will make it far easier to select and evaluate your solution, particularly if you have to make any trade-offs.  

Finding the solution: Choosing the right drone follows a proven system 

When you have defined the problem, then the next step is designing a solution. An unmanned aircraft system comprises two parts: the physical system, which you can see and touch, and the enabling system, which are all of the components which allow the capability to operate effectively now and into the future. The physical system usually comprises at least five components, in some form: 

There are five different elements that need to be considered within the physical system including:  

  1. The air vehicle (the drone itself) 
  2. The ground control system  
  3. The payload(s)
  4. The data analysis tools, and 
  5. The people  

These elements fit into a bigger picture that takes in the enabling systems including:  

  1. Operations 
  2. Workforce 
  3. Finance  
  4. Legal 
  5. Engineering 
  6. Maintenance 
  7. Supply chains, and  
  8. Facilities 

And they all need to work together to get the job done. 

The Mirragin Cog

Conclusion 

It’s common to feel a little overwhelmed when searching for a commercial drone – there are lots of options available and technology is constantly evolving in the rapidly-growing field of drone development.  

The most important thing to remember is that it’s not about the drone, it’s about the problem you are trying to solve first… and then the drone/unmanned aircraft is just a cog in the wheel.  

If you need assistance with choosing the best drones for your organisation, or if you’re looking for direction in developing an effective drone program, book a consultation with Mirragin today at admin@mirragin.com.au.  

Drone Flying on Power Plant
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