Wingtra helps US civil contractor tackle more jobs, faster [case study]

Brent Scarbrough and Co. is one of the largest heavy civil construction site contractors in Georgia, USA. An employee-owned firm, it offers specialization in clearing, grubbing, boring, grading, and underground utilities. Over the past 38 years, it has built a solid reputation for providing high-quality services across the Southeast US.

Alex Lowry is a certified drone operator at Brent Scarbrough, and he’s in charge of providing digital terrain maps to stakeholders across the region so that they can keep accurate track of earthworks.

“Once the site is cleared, I’ll come in and do a topo [topographical map] of what dirt is out there to start with,” Lowry said. “And they’ll take my topos and use them to see if we can make the site balance, or if we need to haul the dirt off. 

Brent Scarbrough logo
Demanding project workload, fast deadlines, limited flight windows for weather

I'm flying two or three times a day or every other day. I'll compare what I shoot in the field to the drone point cloud from WingtraOne GEN II. There are plenty of times I see shots that are 4/1000 [0.01 cm] of a difference or less. This is incredible accuracy. 

Alex Lowry 
Certified Drone Operator, Brent Scarbrough and Co.

ROI spotlight on RGB61

As drone technology advances, the phrase “time is money” really means something right down to the minute. In the case of Brent Scarbrough, the owner “doesn’t like to say no to any client.”

So Lowry is constantly working against the clock to map every site with perfect accuracy and the best quality mapping outputs for clients.

He explained how—in addition to the ease-of-use and speed of the WingtraOne GEN II drone solution—Wingtra’s new RGB61 payload will introduce a new level of efficiency and business advantage:  

An RGB61 data output of Fairburn, Georgia, by Brent Scarbrough. Click here to view, zoom and explore quality.

One of the biggest things that RGB61 can help us with, from a company standpoint, is that I can continue flying more sites. For example, we have four sites in LaGrange, Georgia. Instead of three, I could probably fly all four in one day using the RGB61.

Alex Lowry
Certified Drone Operator, Brent Scarbrough and Co.

Advances in drone surveying have been “just incredible”

Having been a professional drone surveyor with Brent Scarbrough for six years, Lowry offered insights into the evolution of the tech. From the use of microdrones all the way to the discovery of Wingtra, he says the work and timelines have completely transformed.

“For two or three years we used microdrones,” Lowry said. “The accuracy was okay. I’d go out and fly and spend the next day—probably between four and eight hours—processing my own data. So it was very, very time consuming.”

After microdrones, Lowry moved on to DJI and the process improved. Another speed leap happened with the integration of Propeller Aero—a drone data processing service that integrates ground control.

“We started sending our data to Propeller and let them process, which took the processing load off of me, and allowed me to continue to go out and keep flying sites. 

“And then we discovered Wingtra, and I can’t be happier with our experience [with this combined solution].”

Before working for Brent Scarbrough, Lowry worked at a private survey firm, staking property corners with traditional ground-based survey methods. He says, “Going from the beginning stages of drone technology to where it’s progressed in five or six years is just incredible.”

Wingtra and Propeller have offered the leading edge on getting sites done while gathering the same high-precision location data as before.

“There have been instances where we’ve had other contractors question the accuracy of the Wingtra data,” Lowry explained. “And I am happy to say I can prove them wrong almost every time. The product that this drone is going to produce, you can trust it, you can rely on it. And you don’t have to question that. 

The Wingtra has been really top notch—the accuracy has been fantastic. I tell people all the time, I'm 99.9 percent confident that the topos I'm sending the engineers are about as accurate as you can get shooting it manually with a survey crew.

Alex Lowry
Certified Drone Operator, Brent Scarbrough and Co. 

“Time is money … that’s why it’s super important to have this drone”

Company founder Brent Scarbrough does not like to tell customers no. For Lowry, this means several projects a day ranging from 20 acres to 1000 and spanning all across the Southeast US, from West Virginia to Georgia.

“We get stuff done, move on to the next site, get stuff done, move on to the next site. I think right now, we probably have 60-something active sites all around Georgia. So time is money, and that’s why it’s super important to have this drone.”

Some of the sites Lowry flies over in the hills of Virginia or Georgia can involve elevation differences of 50 to 100 feet. He covers these fast and easy with Wingtra terrain following.

“You know, a two or three person traditional survey crew would probably need a couple of days for 150 to 200 acre site, especially with elevation changes. Now we can do it with a drone in 20 minutes and get the same accuracy as they are getting. I mean, you just can’t beat it.

If a construction company is still using traditional survey crew, they’ll spend about $150 an hour for several days. That's a lot of money. Or they can go out and buy this drone, and it’s going to pay for itself very quickly. As busy as we are, I think the drone probably paid for itself within the first month of us buying it. It was just worth it to buy.

Alex Lowry
Certified Drone Operator, Brent Scarbrough and Co. 

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