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ROI on the Digital Asset

Can you get an immediate ROI with Digital Assets and drone data?


This year we have seen a significant focus on “digital assets” or “reality modelling” within asset management.

The question is, “if a business neglects or is slow to embrace digital technology, are they losing their competitive advantage to a competitor who has accelerated their data pursuit?”


Ultimately, collecting asset data empowers a business with knowledge, resulting in better decision making, Capex & Opex savings, increased asset lifespan and better asset reliability.

However, businesses have also demonstrated the ability to achieve an immediate return on their investment. Time-spend reductions of up to 80%, operational cost-savings exceeding 70%, and data fidelity increases of over 1000% are all typical. All this leads to indicative savings in the millions.


The most common misconception is that investing in digital assets is an additional cost on the business. On the contrary, accurate data is the most valuable asset within the business. It decreases or even eradicates inefficient costs while providing the knowledge to create more informed management strategies going forward.

While some of the most significant returns come from repeat data and trend/change analysis, understandably many businesses look for immediate returns.


So what types of returns are businesses seeing in the short term?

The feedback from business across facilities management, telecommunications, infrastructure and oil & gas have highlighted a few common trends when it comes to immediate returns.


First, businesses are saving significant amounts of time throughout the whole management workflow.

Consider the time it takes to conduct a routine manual inspection. The most obvious advantage is that using an accurate and complete digital model means you don’t even need to attend the site.

Now consider other inefficient time-consuming tasks associated with traditional inspections:

  • The time required to prepare for manual inspections can be weeks of work. There are approvals, certifications, and safety cases when working at heights.
  • There is the time required to prepare equipment including rope access, EWPs along with safety equipment and staff.
  • Many assets require a shutdown to allow manual inspections to take place, which takes valuable assets offline for significant periods.
  • Reports are often PDF reports and photos without context, meaning a significant waste of time trying to interpret the data.
  • Collaboration between stakeholders is often challenging and therefore rare, delaying action.


Many of these can be reduced or replaced by drone technology and digital asset creation. The time taken to simply complete inspections can be reduced by over 75%, which means more time to analyse asset condition to make value-based maintenance decisions.

For example, take a simple cell tower which requires an infield crew of 2 people up to a day to inspect. The data collected is often a “tick” in the box, a few “selective” photos and some inspection notes. Compare that to a digital model. A drone can capture the tower in as little as 30 minutes, keeping staff safely on the ground. Now multiply that by thousands of towers within a portfolio.

A digital asset becomes the single source of truth that allows all stakeholders to work off a common language, wherever; whenever they want.

When data is consistent, time and time again, we have seen greater stakeholder buy-in, leading to teams aligning direction and working toward a common objective effectively.

Second, incomplete, low-fidelity asset data leads to wasted expenses. We have seen many businesses spend money unnecessarily on:

  • Oversupply of human resources
  • Overuse of unnecessary equipment to rectify defects that weren’t necessarily required to be rectified.
  • Rectification of poor quality maintenance causing additional shutdowns
  • Damage not identified in an inspection, leading to asset failure.

Having digital assets means that a business has access to data that is complete, reliable and highly accurate. Digital assets can contain over 1000% more data points than existing methods, allowing the business to allocate resources and expenditure better while keeping everyone accountable.

Let’s take roofs as an example. Before the installation of a solar array on a commercial warehouse, the asset owner wants to complete a survey of the roof structure, which can cost thousands of dollars. The owner can now extract that information from the digital model for a quarter of the cost. By using a digital model, the owner was able to identify a flawed section of the roof caused by a tenant. If the solar installation had taken place, there was the likely chance of the section of roof failing.

Roof deviation report by Trendspek

Lastly, digital assets reduce businesses exposure to OHS risks and limit their liability of potential workplace injury.

Unfortunate cases of workplace injury and death expose businesses to liability costs that can run into millions of dollars. The inherent dangers of working at heights can incur costs such as:

  • Injury payouts and settlement costs
  • Increases to insurances
  • Site shutdowns
  • Brand reputation costs
  • The human effect of staff morale within a business
  • Legal action against the business and or civil action against directors


Drone data can significantly reduce the number of times a business needs to send someone to work at heights.


While digital assets are designed to make life easier for asset managers, some of the most prominent advocates of going digital are the businesses CFO’s. Data not only provides significant returns of investment but limits liability and is easier to forecast costs associated with routine inspections.

ROI benefits are being achieved within the industry now. The exciting part is that the best is yet to come. Continual development is occurring with asset data. A business will be able to take advantage of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, enhanced extraction of existing data to provide predictive analysis.


Digital assets provide businesses with complete historical data and a rich information source. It allows them to make comparisons and predict trends. Data is now more valuable than oil–and unlike oil it has longevity.

The best returns will come when a business can use a single source of truth to form a common operating picture.

Derek Feebrey CEO Trendspek

Derek Feebrey 

Chief Executive Officer

ROI Calculator for digital twins and drone inspection data

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