• Commercial drone market breaks through in Belgium

    BDO consultancy sets up expert team to help companies deploy business drones

Commercial drone market breaks through in Belgium

20 May 2021

BDO consultancy sets up expert team to help companies deploy business drones

BDO consultancy has put together a team of experts on drones. The market for business drone flights is on the brink of a major breakthrough. Europe has harmonised legislation on drones, 5G technology is on the way, and it is possible to fly several drones together autonomously. More and more companies in our country are seeing the economic benefits of using drones.

Drones have been used for professional purposes for some time now, police forces looking for hidden cannabis plantations, companies having the solar panels on their roofs inspected for defects, surveyors measuring land, or hospitals having blood samples transported. The adoption of automatic drones in daily operations is a the verge to start this year.  From ‘Drone in a Box’ installations, special conceived drones will serve First Responder, Surveyance and Inspection missions in regulatory controlled airspace or U-Space (between 50 m and 120 m high) starting this year. Business cases for show the potential is great for both ‘outdoor’ and ‘indoor’ spaces.   For this, we work together with a well-known pioneer in the Belgian and international drone world, DroneMatrix and other well known players in the market like SkeyDrone and Proximus.

“We truly believe in the added value of drones for companies both in open air and indoor. For example indoor, an autonomous drone can photograph the racks and floor with its stock in large warehouses. Image Processing technology using A.I. technology, prepared and managed by us, turns these images in stock information. People don’t have to put themselves at risk on an aerial platform. Drones fly autonomously at night without disturbing much of the warehouse operations. In Open Air, we expect early adopters like seaports in Belgium to adopt automatic drone technology in their operations end of 2021 or in 2022,” says Walter Vanherle, expert at BDO Digital.

Emerging but complex market

Several players are getting ready to enter the drone market or are already active. It involves a wide range of different actors as well. On the one hand, you have all the companies and organisations that are already using or are looking for using drone services.  Examples are multiple. Cities for equipping their Police and Firebrigades. The Infrastructure sector for measuring and inspecting construction area’s.  Utility Companies (for inspection of Windturbines and PC Installations).  The telecom sector with inspecting Radio Towers.  Other use-cases exist for the insurance sector, transport & logistics sector, the agricultural industry.

On the other hand, there are many players offering services in the drone sector, such as operators with licensed pilots, the guardians of reserved airspace for drones, known as U-space, with SkeyDrone, operators that carry out drone missions, specialists that maintain the drones, companies that provide training to become drone pilots, telecom companies that provide the necessary 5G communication such as Proximus, and IT companies that develop specialised software (for example, converting images into 3D models, inspecting wind turbines, bridges, etc.).

Core team of drone experts

BDO sees a lot of added value for companies and has team of specialists actively involved in all dimensions off this emerging business. Members of this multidisciplinary team come from the BDO teams active in Strategy & Digital Transformation, Corporate Finance (Financial Planning and M&A), Risk and Legal.

“We expect groups to form in this market specialized in providing end to end drone services.  It’s not easy for companies to determine if drone services are a solution for them neither for organization looking to provide how / when to provide the new models of drone.  We are geared up to assist those companies looking for strategic, financial, and logistical advice. We’ll help them find out whether the use of a drone adds value and how they can best organise this for themselves. In addition, we can provide assistance in the realisation of their project(s),” says Walter Vanherle.