Construction remains one of the top industries driving the world economy. However, some construction firms have been lagging behind virtually every other sector in the adoption of technology. Although technology has been helping the construction industry improve productivity and safety standards, the increasing use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) actually brings about countless other benefits. The construction industry is also starting to use AI to automate mundane construction processes, generate data, and anticipate risks. Before we breakdown how AI is transforming the construction industry, let’s begin by understanding what it is in the first place.
What is AI?
AI refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think like humans and to imitate their actions. The hallmark of artificial intelligence is its ability to rationalise and the best course of action to achieve a specific goal. According to Construction Connect, AI is mostly applied in the construction industry via machine learning, a subset of AI. Machine learning uses algorithms to learn from data, to recognise patterns, and make decisions without having to be programmed every time.
Construction projects generate stacks of data from daily reports, telematics, plans, worker productivity levels, job costs change orders, jobsite photos, and more – which is prime application for machine learning to identify opportunities for improvement and develop the best solutions. The problem arises when all these unstructured data are collected and stored on disparate systems meaning that the data is frequently siloed and not used until the project is completed. This is where AI plays its pivotal part in the construction where these data will be collected, structured, and standardized.
Creating Safer Jobsites
Construction sites are dangerous places and according to CEO and co-founder of indus.ai Matt Man, construction workers are killed on the job five times more often than any workers. Struck-by deaths incidences have also increased by 34% over the past decade. Site conditions are rapidly changing and an influx of less experienced workers only contributes to more errors, risks and injuries – making it that much more difficult to manage risks and protect workers from serious injuries. Technology like smart, wearable gadgets, drones and site sensors are already being used to make construction sites safer. For example, AI-supported cameras provide real-time visuals while also gathering and analyzing all inbound data concerning the job site. From the supplies to the materials to the workers, everything on a job site is accounted for in real-time. Hence, the data gathered by AI are providing construction managers more control over their job sites to reduce workplace hazards.
Increased transparency and accountability
The introduction of AI-supported equipment on a construction site renders every stakeholder accountable in unprecedented ways. Missing paperwork, communication breakdowns, and misunderstandings are no longer acceptable excuses, with AI working to fix such mishaps. AI software helps the construction industry with the process of monitoring and analysing every piece of inbound data in real-time. Stakeholders are also given the privilege to see why problems in construction sites arise around the clock. This level of workplace accountability goes a long way in keeping site managers responsible for the success of their job sites.
With all stakeholders keeping an eye on the site, construction managers must go above and beyond to ensure that projects are progressing well and that the workers are kept safe. Keeping construction owners and end-users in mind, IFCA has developed its construction solution called ContractX. It is a customer-centric solution with AI, real-time data and cross-functional collaboration. With cloud-based mobile solutions like ContractX that can help save time and money, we can safely assume that the adoption of AI in the construction industry will only continue to improve. For example, a realtor from Malaysia can engage a home buyer from Singapore or Australia. A superior quality virtual tour is all you need to get them a sense of their potential new property.
Planning & Scheduling
The key to delivering construction projects on time and within budget lies in the planning and scheduling of the work. Construction managers are finding AI increasingly useful in automating a variety of repetitive but important tasks in the running of their operations. For small construction projects, construction schedules and processes can be handled manually. However, for large-scale projects spanning years and costing billions, AI will be useful for the coordination of complex tasks and management as well as avoiding unexpected and costly delays.
Construction managers can use AI long after the construction of a building is complete. Once the project has reached its conclusion, AI remains in place in the form of integrated features within the structure of the building. Building information modelling, or BIM, stores information related to the structure of the building. BIM software collects data, which AI uses to explore the possibilities of each aspect of a construction project and find the best solution much quicker than a human mind can do. Construction-specific tools or software that utilize AI and BIM are always learning from past projects. The combination of these two powerful technologies is bound to grow in the future. It has reportedly helped to increase productivity in construction projects and improve coordination as well as coordination of manpower across teams on an infrastructure project. This not only makes construction processes easier, it also improves the quality of solutions derived from collective problem solving.
The construction industry is ripe for digital transformation. There are ample opportunities to leverage AI and improve the execution of construction projects: from automating repetitive tasks and reducing costly errors and worksite injuries to forecasting risks and future requirements. Artificial Intelligence may be a competitive advantage for now but it will quickly become a norm in the construction industry. Thus, it is imperative for firms to seriously consider capitalizing on technological advancements right now and innovate their processes for the future.
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Resources and Further Reading
How is Artificial Intelligence (AI) transforming the construction industry?
Artificial intelligence: Construction technology’s next frontier
What is the potential for AI in construction?