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Artificial intelligence is proving to help overcome major challenges faced by construction managers but it is still in the initial stages. Construction, as one of the most under digitized sectors, has still a lot to see!
People have been building shelters and homes for millennia. The construction industry has evolved from building simple mud houses to skyscrapers. This evident change in the structures is all because of the improvements in the methods of planning and designing.
Several technological advancements have impacted the way construction professionals worked and the final results. The most recent and potent of them all is AI. As we are building better and more efficient AI systems, construction companies are greatly relying on these systems. The primary objectives are to make construction safer and free of defects.
- What Is Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence?
- 10 Ways Artificial Intelligence is Transforming the Construction Sector
- 1. Building Better Designs with Generative Designing
- 2. Efficient Project Planning
- 3. Predict and Prevent Cost Overruns
- 4. Increase Productivity of the Jobsite
- 5. Makes Construction Sites Safer
- 6. Helps Identify and Mitigate Risks
- 7. Make up for Labor Shortages
- 8. Commercial Offsite Construction
- 9. Provision of Useful Data Insights
- 10. Post Construction Inspections
- What’s On the Horizon?
What Is Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence?
When a machine is capable of mimicking functions of the human brain such as spotting patterns, learning from experiences, and problem-solving, it is said to be artificially intelligent. AI is an aggregative used to describe the field of developing machines that can think and act like a human.
Whereas machine learning is a method of employing statistical techniques to allow the computers to learn from existing data instead of relying on explicit commands.
Construction management is one of the most challenging jobs as it requires attention to detail. Even a minor mistake can turn out to be a drastic flaw causing the entire project to fail. That is the reason AI is finding its way into the industry to minimize the incidence of costly flaws.
10 Ways Artificial Intelligence is Transforming the Construction Sector
When it comes to the potential application of AI in construction, the possibilities are endless. It can act as a smart assistant that never tires and rarely makes mistakes. Here are the top 10 ways AI is helping to reduce defects in construction projects.
1. Building Better Designs with Generative Designing
Generative design has transformed the way construction projects are planned. Software, used for building information modeling, uses a 3-D model-based process backed up by AI. It is used to generate insights for architecture, engineering, and construction professionals that are useful in making construction plans.
Construction of a building is a cumulative effort of professionals handling architecture, engineering, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) plans. The major challenge is to ensure that there are no clashes between the models made by sub-teams. These clashes can result in reworks, delays, and financial losses.
Machine learning identifies and provides optimal solutions to overcome these clashes. So it is an effective means of fixing defects during the planning phase.
2. Efficient Project Planning
One of the biggest challenges faced by construction companies is creating plans and keeping up with deadlines. Delays in sub-projects can result in serious losses to the construction firms. The best approach is to identify the pace of each sub-project and the challenges during project planning.
AI and robots can be used to make construction projects finish on time without going over the budget. The robots capture the images and videos of different areas of construction sites and feed them into a neural network. Machine learning enables these robots to analyze how long the projects are taking.
Management teams can deploy resources and put efforts to speed up these projects. AI will be used to optimize the best possible solutions for efficient project planning.
3. Predict and Prevent Cost Overruns
Most of the construction projects go over the decided budgets, even the best of the estimates have failed. The cost overruns depend on the project size, the competence level of project managers, and contract types. AI networks take into account all of these factors and determine the potential cost overruns.
The predictive models check the historical data such as the starting and ending dates of the project and help set realistic expectations. Access to real-life training is also an important benefit of AI. Staff can learn and improvise their skills remotely preventing the defects occurring due to lack of knowledge.
4. Increase Productivity of the Jobsite
AI is finding its way into the construction industry in the form of automatic construction machinery that is designed to perform repetitive tasks more efficiently. These machines can handle tasks such as bricklaying, demolition, welding, and pouring concrete at a better pace as compared to humans.
When adequately programmed, these machines can help avoid human errors, accidents, and the resulting loss of productivity. Moreover, excavation and prep work is automated to speed up the preparation phase of a construction project.
A professional programmer exacts the specifications and autonomous bulldozers clear the site for the next project. The most sought-after use of AI is that it can be used to track the performance of workers. Paired with onsite cameras, facial recognition, and other technologies can be used to assess worker productivity.
More often than not, construction defects are due to the lack of conformance to protocols and procedures. A tracking system in conjunction with AI can help overcome all these challenges.
5. Makes Construction Sites Safer
According to OSHA, falls on construction sites were the leading cause of deaths in the private sector. Other causes include being struck by an object, caught in between, and electrocution.
An algorithm is currently under development that analyzes, detects, and reports safety hazards through images from different job sites.
If those safety hazards are found to be the reason behind the deaths of workers in the past, safety briefings can be conducted. Thus, AI is helping in making construction sites safer.
6. Helps Identify and Mitigate Risks
Whether big or small, every construction project has some risks. The risks can be classified as quality, safety, time, and cost risks. As multiple sub-contractors are working on different trades simultaneously, risks increase with the size of the project.
General contractors are using AI solutions to monitor risks on the job site. Another important function is to prioritize risks so that resources can be deployed to mitigate the biggest of risks.
Project managers can easily identify the sub-contractors with high-risk scores and make necessary arrangements to overcome them. Managing the risks is the key point of preventing construction defects.
7. Make up for Labor Shortages
AI is a dependable means to boost the lower productivity of the construction industry. Construction firms are investing in AI as it can make up for labor shortages. Real-time analysis of data can increase productivity by as much as 50%.
Construction managers are also employing AI-backed software to better plan for labor and machinery distribution across the job site. A robot evaluates the location of workers and job progress to determine if more labor is required at a site.
Besides these elaborate reporting, AI automates repetitive tasks making up for the labor shortages. As machine learning and AI techniques are improving, construction robots are expected to be more intelligent and efficient over the coming years.
8. Commercial Offsite Construction
The construction industry has transformed due to offsite construction projects. As more companies are relying on off-site construction, the application of autonomous robots has become common and is helping reduce labor costs.
Simpler components are joined together by assembly-line robots. Structures such as walls can be made in less time and labor costs. Human workers handle the jobs like installation and finishing HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems.
9. Provision of Useful Data Insights
Be it construction or any other industry, a massive amount of data is being generated and recorded. These vast databases can be analyzed to make automated decisions. Machines can learn and improve daily as each job site is a data source.
Different technologies such as drones, cloud computing, and building information modeling are constantly adding to the information pool. Industry professionals and customers both can benefit from these useful data insights generated by AI. A significant number of construction defects can be identified with these data insights, making the buildings safer.
10. Post Construction Inspections
Professionals keep analyzing the construction projects long after they are completed. They inspect them for defects and flaws that can be improved in any future projects. AI is also changing the post-construction inspections. As the age of the building increases, AI-backed devices can also be used to track the developing problems.
What’s On the Horizon?
AI may become so sophisticated that a project manager will send a drone camera and receive notification on their tablet for all the risk factors with suggested changes. But we are still a long way from these advancements. Some reports from citylocal101 suggest that AI and machine learning can reduce construction costs by as much as 20%. It will be also used to route the electrical and plumbing systems in residential and commercial buildings. AI has the potential to completely alter the construction models. Although there are speculations about massive job losses, it is more likely to change the nature of jobs in the future.