March 3, 2014 - The online store, Amazon really stirred things up in the month of December when its CEO announced that they were working on an ongoing project to distribute items via little “octocopters” called drones.
This hovering aircraft will be designed to send items from warehouses to customers within 10 minutes of the order. Amazon hopes to have the drones in operation by 2015. At Blackbird Asset Services we regularly conduct auctions of industrial plants and heavy equipment. This got us wondering if it was possible to send larger things like construction equipment via drone. Could this revolutionize commercial rigging and trucking practices? Will drones replace the trucker?
The Mideast wars have been a proving ground for unmanned aircraft, primarily for surveillance and use in unmanned attacks. Additionally, the use of automated aircraft in Afghanistan included the Kaman K-Max double-rotored helicopter. The Kaman can lift 6,000 lbs – more than its empty weight - and is deployed to carry materials to isolated areas of that country. “Given this experience, it seems quite feasible for automated aircraft to one day carry construction equipment parts from, say, a dealer to a distant project site. Complete engines or entire pieces of equipment also may be delivered that way. What must happen before such deliveries become commonplace is formulation of rules that will keep a helicopter with, say, a skid steer dangling underneath from popping up into the path of a Cessna on a landing approach pattern.” (Giles Lamberston- CEG Correspondent)
Al Cervero, Vice President of the construction sector at The Association of Equipment Manufacturers stated that although manufacturers sometimes have their dealers use small aircraft to get parts and equipment to contractors, it is understood that unmanned aircraft are another ballgame. His guess is that manufacturers are keeping an eye on this technology but may not be ready to take the lead in it.
So, for now it looks like our auction removal process will be sticking with the time tested forms of transportation - riggers, trucks and vans, but change may be on the way.