WHY DRONE REPAIR IS A NATURAL FIT FOR WIRELESS REPAIR SHOPS
1. Less experienced drone operators are entering the drone industry.
2. Drones purchased before the FAA grounded commercial use of drones are now out of warranty.
3. America’s dependence on drones will become similar to the dependence we have on our smartphones today. By 2025,
America is expected to have an $89.1 billion drone industry. Congratulations CPR for integrating drone repair! JOSH SEVICK, President of the electronics repair giant, Cell Phone Repair, agrees. “Do we see drones as being a relevant technology in the next few years? Absolutely! … We see it as an opportunity that we have to be prepared for (for when drones become mainstream). … We are piloting a whole drone repair process, and we’re partnered with an early-stage company that’s looking to create a professional, secondary market for drones in the U.S. and Canada. … Do I think this is going to have a significant financial impact in our stores in 2016? No. But we’ve been seeing, certainly, as we get into 2017, 2018, and 2019 that drone repair will become a significant portion of our revenue.”
Basically, as with any form of technology, issues will occur when using drones. Whether it’s due to human error or faults in the software or hardware, it’s essential for consumers to know that there’s someone who can fix these problems. And for the average consumer, the local electronics and wireless repair shop owner is the natural first contact they will turn to when something goes wrong with their drone. For this reason, alongside the drone industry’s booming growth mentioned earlier, drones represent the next frontier of revenue for wireless repair professionals.
JOHN PATTERSON, Head of Digital Content Production with Heliguy, a CAA approved supplier and drone trainer based in the UK, adds, “There’s definitely money to be made as more and more people turn to drones for both recreational and professional purposes. Clients will range from amateur filmmakers who try (and fail) an overly ambitious shot to companies who require regular maintenance on their equipment, especially those using drones in challenging environments such as offshore surveyors.
Patterson goes on to forecast that this market is only going to grow year over year, especially as mainstream media outlets continue to both report on and use drones. This media exposure is compounded by the proliferation of amazing and viral drone videos taken by everyday consumers, then uploaded to sites like YouTube. As such, the amount of repair work required will ride along this upward trend. This forecast is shared by WESLEY FLIPPO, Co-Founder at Buy the Best Drone, a fast growing drone startup based out of San Diego, US. He says, “We believe that drone repair will become a very profitable business, much like computer repair companies and auto shops. As drones become more popular, more people will be flying them and even with increased training, by a sheer percentage factor, there will be more mistakes that lead to necessary repairs. I predict we’ll see a major company pop up in the near future, similar to the automobile industry’s Auto Zone or Jiffy Lube that specializes in drone repairs.”
Thankfully, the FAA’s $63.4 billion modernization plan of the country’s air traffic control systems will also expand to accommodate the commercial use of drones. And once the current regulatory constraints are modified, the FAA forecasts that commercial markets will quickly develop, generating demand for additional hobbyist and commercial drones, as well as their accessory market. Commercial drones are “currently the most dynamic growth sector within the aviation industry.” In fact, a market study by the Teal Group forecasts the global market for drones will grow to $89.1 billion by 2025. Meanwhile, in the US, the FAA estimates small, hobbyist drone purchases will grow from about $1.9 million in 2016 up to $4.3 million by 2020. Commercial drone sales are expected to grow from $600,000 in 2016 to $2.7 million by 2020. And keep in mind, these growing sales levels are being generated during a period when the government is actively limiting select forms of drone sales due to there not being enough laws to regulate them.
MOST COMMON TYPES OF DRONE REPAIR ISSUES
According to experts in the field, the most common types of repair issues that affect drones include: 1. Outer shell replacement, due to general wear and tear that causes dents or gashes.
2. Motor maintenance, as these components are often one of the main points of contact during a crash. Additionally, drone motors are prone to overheat when propellers are incorrectly positioned, thereby creating additional motor stress. 3. Mainboards & ESCs (Electronic Speed Control), as crashes and contact with water are likely to damage these intricate electronic components.
4. Aircraft leg replacement, due to the wear they endure after frequent landings. 5. Gimbal replacement, as their usual placement beneath the drone ensures they are likely to be the fi rst thing to hit the ground in accidents.
Josh Larson, founder of the drone consultancy, Breakover Services, adds that the majority of drone crashes leading to drone repair business tend to occur from two sources:
● FLYAWAYS: This is where there is a software or GPS problem, and the drone just flies away from the operator.
● OPERATOR ERROR: This is where the operator crashes the drone due to an error while flying. These crashes usually result in a range of potential damage cases, including damage to the propellers, the motors, the aircraft body, the landing gear, the gimbal and the camera.
Larson adds, “Due to the increase in drone use by hobbyists, as well as commercial operators, there will subsequently be an increase in drone crashes and a higher demand for drone repairs. That’s why right now is the best time to look into getting a drone repair company going.”
Drone accessories! Yes! The Repair Upsell!
As any store operator knows, the real money is in the upsells. Drone repair is no different. The most popular upgrade that people opt for when purchasing a drone are gimbals, the mechanism which attaches the camera (and other gear) to the drone. Other upgrades include antenna upgrades, speed modifications, and first-person view (FPV) cameras that allow pilots to operate the drone through the drone’s visual perspective beamed into a video display or VR goggles—these upgrades will become ever more popular once recreational drone racing grows in popularity.
Conversely, the most frequent accessory repairs also happen to be gimbals and FPV mods. With gimbals, any issues with their alignment can spell disaster for an aerial filmmaker trying to get their perfect shot. Meanwhile, FPV cameras often get damaged in a nose-first crash. What all this means for the wireless repair technician is that profit can be made twice: first by installing these add-ons for customers and the again when these add-ons require servicing.
WHAT IT TAKES TO GET STARTED IN DRONE REPAIR
Just as you wouldn’t try and fi x your car without any background mechanical knowledge, you shouldn’t try and work on a drone without a basic understanding of engineering and electronics. “Getting started in drone repair requires an interest in electronics, as well as a passion for the machines themselves,” says Patterson. Luckily, these interests and passions are commonplace amongst wireless repair professionals. In fact, being a smartphone repair technician may give you a leg up on the general drone repair business. Patterson explained, “The large majority of popular drones on the market right now actually use smartphones to stream and sync their devices. Having a strong understanding of how this technology works can help troubleshoot
issues users are experiencing.
WHAT KIND OF TOOLS WILL I NEED?
Patterson adds, “Also, when it comes to the tools you’ll need, the basic tools required include a range of hex and torx screwdrivers, soldering irons, wire cutters and strippers, as well as a number of devices able to run the necessary software to perform analytics on the drones you’re repairing. Aside from these essentials, if you’re looking to scale your aspirations within drone repair, then you may also consider purchasing a 3D printer that can print high performance drone parts.”