If you’ve been a member of the DroneDeploy forum for a bit, the name Michael Lambert or @MichaelL might be a familiar one to you. For April’s Community Spotlight, we’d like to shed light on Michael, our first Industry Expert in construction.
You’ll often find Michael chiming in and helping anyone and everyone in our community, even if it’s in a field where he is not an expert in. His hunger for knowledge and open willingness to assist anyone in this space has quickly made him an admired and respected member.
What is your background and current role?
I have a background in AutoCAD, land-surveying, and construction design. I was initially hired by Chasco Constructors to do AutoCAD and to build their survey program. Throughout my time there I also eventually became involved in IT too because of my experience of always being the “computer guy” and developing a knowledge for systems and networking. Now I’m the Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) Manager.
How did you become involved in the drone industry?
I was part of the RC community for a long time and have always been into photography. When you combine that with my surveying background and the fact that as part of VDC I manage all the GPS equipment used by our surveyors and controlled machines, drones were a natural progression. I had been following the tech for some time and it was an easy decision that it was time for us (Chasco) to give it a serious look.
How did your company decide that drone were a viable solution and worth the investment?
We needed final approval from stakeholders and it was difficult to show how valuable drones could be without any practical experience. The first target for my ROI was survey labor hours. I knew that with surveying being such a time intensive task that it would be the biggest initial benefit. We spent about 3 months on the monthly Pro Plan while I crunched the numbers to prove this point and once the final proposal was made it took another 3 or 4 months for approval to move to an Enterprise Plan. Patience is a virtue.
What was your biggest challenge when introducing drones to your company?
The nature of construction is an old-school business so the introduction of technology is usually met with a generous amount of skepticism. There’s a lot of manual labor involved so anytime you introduce a new solution that’s supposed to decrease labor and improve efficiencies there are high expectations to succeed. It took awhile for people to understand that what drones can do is far beyond just taking pictures.
What advice do you have for beginners?
Get a drone and start flying recreationally so you’re comfortable handling one. If you’re planning on adding one to your company or team, start analyzing your business process well before you make the pitch and see where the drone data will touch your workflow. You’ll want to introduce this technology in a way that will disrupt the workflow as little as possible so that your teammates feel comfortable from the start and are willing to buy in. Talk to others and find the pain-points and make it a priority to address them.
What is something you wish you knew as you added drones to your company?
When you get into something like this, you don’t know what you don’t know. With the sheer amount of information that is available you may not have any idea of what exactly to do with it until you have seen it a few times. I underestimated how scalable the data was and how it could be tailored to so many different environments.
Well said, Michael! Thank you for all your contributions to our community. If you’d like to connect with Michael outside of the forums, look him up on LinkedIn or send an email to email@example.com with DroneDeploy in the subject line.