Artificial intelligence (AI) is an ability for machines to mimic human cognitive functions, like problem-solving, pattern recognition, and learning.
The construction industry is one of the least digitized in the world. Companies have long failed to realise the potential that AI could bring to their business.
With more than 7% of the world’s labour force employed in the construction industry, it is surprising to see that many industries, significantly smaller than the construction industry, have already integrated AI which has led to increased growth and efficiency.
What does AI in construction mean?
The global construction industry has grown by about 1 percent per year in the last few decades, compared to a growth rate of 3.6 percent in manufacturing, and 2.8 percent for the whole world economy. One of the reasons for this is that construction is still one of the least digitized industries in the world, only in front of agriculture.
AI has already started to be integrated into the construction industry. Construction technology company ALICE helps construction companies run millions of building simulations, helping you explore different construction scenarios quickly and see their impact on your cost and schedule.
An AI technique known as “reinforcement learning” will be an algorithm of the future to be on the lookout for. This technique will allow algorithms to learn based on trial and error. It will make use of data from previous projects and learn from it.
It will be able to assess countless combinations and methods for similar projects. Over time, this allows it to develop the best possible method for your project. This will not only save construction businesses time and money, but make for more reliability in knowing a project will be completed in time and not over budget.
Reduce labour shortages
Low levels of productivity is something that is attracting construction businesses to invest in AI. Research has shown that integrating AI could boost productivity by as much as 50 percent through real-time data analysis. Construction companies will be made aware of exactly how many workers they will need to employ to get a project completed on time and in budget. It is allowing construction businesses to better plan for distribution and cost of labour and machinery. It monitors the progression and productivity of a project, which could be behind schedule or over budget. As AI progresses, the possibilities as to what it could potentially achieve are endless.
Building information modelling (BIM)
A 3D model-based process, BIM gives construction businesses the ability to efficiently plan, design and manage their projects. In order to plan and design the construction of a building, all available factors and teams need to be taken into consideration. BIM is being used within the construction industry to create designs and eliminate clashes between different teams within a project. It can also be used to give a visualization to investors of what the finished project might look like.
Prevent going over budget
A significant amount of large projects go over budget, even with great planning and a skilled team behind it. AI can be integrated into projects to predict an increase in costs, time overruns, project size and the level of skill among employees and project managers. It can save project managers money and time by ensuring they are hiring the right people for the job. It can use data from previous projects to predict how a future project may unfold. AI can be used to train staff remotely, reducing the need to spend more money on such resources.
Increase productivity on site
Jobs such as pouring concrete, bricklaying, welding and demolition have always been jobs that have had to be completed by humans. Companies introducing self-driving machinery may be creating a serious shift in how jobs are performed on site. This not only leaves more time for humans to complete other essential construction jobs and reduce the need for them to complete labour intensive jobs, but it significantly reduces the time it will take to complete a project. Project managers will be able to track the effectiveness of these jobs performed with equipment on site.
Quality control is an essential aspect of any business. It may be time consuming and frustrating, but it reduces the chance of any unexpected problems with your product down the line. The product in this case, a new building being constructed. AI has the ability to extract information from drone footage and notify if it calculates any possible structure threats. This ensures project managers will be confident that their project won’t fore see any unexpected structural issues or weak spots.
Big data in construction
Every day, more and more data is being created throughout all industries. Collecting data has become a priority for all businesses as they have begun to realize how valuable it is. AI is continuously improving as it is being exposed to more data. AI can track on site data from images sourced from phones, drones, sensors and BIM, and understand how effectively jobs are being performed. Construction businesses can collect this data and learn from it, which can then be used when planning future projects.