When you think of artificial intelligence, what springs to mind? In days gone by, “artificial intelligence” probably thought of autonomous robots slowly taking over the world. In reality, in 2021, artificial intelligence (AI) is the technology that powers digital assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa. Consumers can benefit from the convenience of artificial intelligence on their mobile phones.
Artificial intelligence is now making its way into a wide range of industries, promising lucrative commercial applications. The construction business has benefited substantially from artificial intelligence. The application of artificial intelligence in the construction industry allows construction businesses to be more productive than they otherwise would be. In addition, artificial intelligence increases the quality and safety of those initiatives.
One such industry that is seeing massive benefits is the construction industry.
In the construction industry, artificial intelligence (AI) can refer to anything from computers that manage massive volumes of data to data sensors on the job site to robots that perform manual labour.
So, what is the current state of artificial intelligence in the construction industry, and what is the potential of this technology?
McKinsey has recently commissioned a study into the future of AI in the construction industry and concluded that artificial intelligence in the construction industry’s next frontier.
“Stakeholders across the project lifecycle, including contractors, operators, owners, and service providers, can no longer afford to conceive of AI as technology that’s pertinent only to other industries.”
However, simply implementing it because you feel you shouldn’t benefit from a properly installed system based on your needs.
To ensure a fully personalised setup, you first need to find out precisely what AI is and what you can expect upon implementing it. Next, you need to consider the results you are hoping to gain from this and what benefits you will be looking to see.
Take this information and start small. Get used to certain areas becoming automated and completed by this technology before fully integrating more parts to complete the setup. Much as you would with building structures if the foundations aren’t in place and secure, you won’t get the quality or stability required in the finished product. This applies to AI in construction too.
This post looks at some of the ways AI supports and improves the construction industry.
Geo Mapping and Land Surveys
Using Geospatial Information Systems (GIS), Drones, and geospatial AI, you may drastically reduce the amount of time it takes to collect accurate survey maps and aerial pictures of a job site. Drones can be used to track project updates and issues on a construction site, and they are becoming increasingly popular. This provides more detailed information to aid in decision-making and the management of ongoing initiatives.
Many companies are emerging to offer self-driving construction machines that can execute repetitive operations more efficiently than human beings, such as welding, bricklaying, pouring concrete, and demolition. For example, in excavation and preparation work, autonomous or semi-autonomous bulldozers are being deployed. With the assistance of a human programmer, these bulldozers can prepare a job site according to your exact specifications. Not only does this free up your employees’ time so that they can concentrate on the actual building process, but it also allows you to accomplish the project in a shorter amount of time.
Another example of artificial intelligence in real-time applications on a construction site can be as follows;
When a construction worker needs a certain tool, say a hot saw, they simply ask the AI by typing into their smartphone: “Where is a circular saw not in use?” The AI then scans the images from the many cameras on-site and indicates the location of the closest hot saw. The construction worker then requests the AI to send authorised staff up to their location with the hot saw, and the AI does so.
The advantage of AI over sensors/IoT is that it is much more flexible. Once the cameras are installed, every object can easily be found – whether or not it is IoT enabled. In the process, AI improves both the utilisation of tools and productivity, as construction workers do not have to walk around the construction site spending hours searching for tools and equipment. Real-life examples indicate the potential for a 40% increase in labour productivity combined with project completion at more than 10% below budget as the time of the construction workers and machinery can be used more efficiently.
AI has enabled technologies such as numerous sensors on job sites that collect data on various topics, including structural health, location, weather, GPS, and IP cameras, among other things. With the integration of artificial intelligence, these technologies can evaluate data in real-time and forecast with a high degree of accuracy any difficulties, delays, or malfunctions that may occur in the future. It goes without saying that construction is fraught with dangers.
Common risks include
- electrical hazards
- falling debris
- being stuck in a rut
- exposure to potentially dangerous materials.
Artificial intelligence is assisting in the improvement of overall safety on construction sites. These systems have the ability to monitor what is going on around them without being distracted, are capable of identifying harmful activity, and can also serve as personal security.
One of the most noticeable characteristics of artificial intelligence is that it is incredibly adept at evaluating previous data to generate likely forecasts of future events. There is no other technology available now that can accomplish this. By integrating artificial intelligence (AI) with construction management software, the data from the app can train a machine to detect patterns in maintenance or other areas. It would be advantageous to consider the possibility of an artificial intelligence system that assesses hundreds of thousands of damage or issue reports for various types of buildings over time. The system might eventually learn to forecast when specific surfaces, fixtures, or materials would become damaged or worn, and it could inform maintenance staff when this occurs.
Optimise Project Design
Construction design is currently out of date and is lagging in terms of taking advantage of modern technology. As a result, it is causing the construction process to be delayed. With artificial intelligence (AI) in building design, you and your contractors can gain insights from building data, material data, and data acquired from the environment. You will quickly determine the best method to plan and develop a project with all of this data.
An AI-based system with access to a database of many previously produced building blueprints can develop design alternatives based on the database’s expertise. Designers and engineers may quickly enter design goals, performance, materials, cost limits, and other characteristics into generative design tools. Using artificial intelligence, the software then generates design choices that meet all pre-specified specifications. The programme then learns from each iteration and becomes a more powerful tool with each new project.
In addition to saving time and money, the generative design allows individuals to produce the most efficient designs depending on any inputs instantly. Compared to old-fashioned scripting, this allows for much more options and permutations. The designer or engineer just selects the best desirable design from the given options.
Besides these gains, generative design can boost creativity. First, it enables the discovery of previously unimaginable shapes and curves. It also provides designers and engineers with solutions they might not have thought of otherwise.
Eliminate Tedious Tasks
Some construction chores are tedious and time-consuming. Organising the project, assigning tasks, and keeping track of all staff is primarily the responsibility of a project manager. These operations are frequently conducted by hand, resulting in significant time and resource waste. When faced with this monotony, it makes the process difficult.
Artificial intelligence is capable of efficiently handling all of these monotonous jobs with little or no human intervention. It can also be used to distribute tasks and delegate specific responsibilities effectively. Additionally, an artificial intelligence system can automatically allocate jobs to employees based on their expertise, skills, and availability to access employee data. This streamlines the process and allows staff to concentrate on increasing their productivity.
Faster Project Delivery
Construction companies are increasingly reliant on offsite factories staffed by autonomous robots that piece together components of a building; workers then assemble these components on the construction site to complete their projects. Behind the scenes, an assembly line using autonomous machines can complete structures such as walls more quickly and efficiently than employees, no matter how adept they are at their job. Your personnel will be able to focus on higher-value jobs such as plumbing and installing the HVAC and electrical systems because the autonomous machines will be doing the heavy lifting.
The use of artificial intelligence in construction is growing across the board as part of a more significant shift toward innovative construction technology. McKinsey, as mentioned above, anticipated that it would play a more prominent role in digital technology in the construction industry in the future. That means that if you want to be successful in the construction industry, you must immediately come to grips with how artificial intelligence in construction will affect the industry and your organisation.