While Materials Testing Consultants (MTC) has successfully completed more than 50 years’ worth of projects for clients throughout Michigan and beyond our borders, most were not aided by the use of a drone for “bird’s-eye” inspections.
When MTC agreed to take on a project in downtown Lansing which involved inspecting and sampling for heavy metal paints, asbestos-containing materials, and PCBs in caulking around window frames for two multi-story buildings, using the drone seemed like a great fit. Our client (the State of Michigan, which owns the office buildings) is determining costs to replace roughly 1,300 windows on the buildings.
MTC added the drone to our equipment inventory to assist with state-of-the art evaluations and solutions. Inspecting the six-story buildings was a perfect time to put the drone’s capabilities to the test. Drone operator for the day was Dan Elliott, P.E., manager of MTC’s Southeast Michigan office in Ann Arbor, who points out using a drone for commercial purposes requires an FAA Remote Pilot certificate. Dan adds that airspace restrictions can also potentially be limiting, depending on the location.
“The drone provided several advantages to performing the task in person,” explains Matt Plummer, a four-year veteran on MTC’s Industrial Hygiene Department staff. With a Bachelor’s degree and a double major in Biology and Environmental Science, Matt took the lead role for MTC on this project to examine window applications and adjacent materials that may be impacted by removing the window frames.
“All the windows needed to be checked, but samples were taken at random locations of homogeneous materials,” notes Matt. “The drone was used for spot checks to determine consistency in materials from the exterior. The buildings were 60 feet in height — to perform a visual inspection of each floor’s exterior in person would have required extensive scaffolding or suspended platforms.”
Matt is looking forward to more sky-high projects utilizing MTC’s drone.
“Aside from providing a safe and cost-effective alternative, the drone also increased the speed in which the verification could be accomplished compared to performing the task in person,” Matt concludes. “The project was fairly typical but the use of a drone to enhance the inspection process is something that will be a useful tool for future projects where appropriate.”
“Recently I used this (the drone) on an exterior condition assessment of a four-story structure in Novi,” Dan states. “A few years ago we used the drone to locate boulders within the Grand River for a river restoration project. As people learn this is an option for certain inspections, I have seen the frequency of inspections increase. I expect this trend to continue.”
Chris Kestner, Industrial Hygiene Department Manager, is serving as Project Manager on the window replacement project and points out MTC has been providing asbestos-related services for over 30 years to our clients.
“We can assist clients with the same type of service, along with complete building surveys, inside and outside,” states Chris. “If there are hazardous materials that need to be remediated prior to renovation we can produce plans and specifications for the safe removal of the hazardous materials, monitor the removal of the hazardous materials and prepare a final report after project completion.”
To explore your options for identifying and remediating a hazardous materials project or to find out how our other professional staff can assist with your current needs, please contact MTC at 800.968.8378.