Artificial intelligence (AI) is the simulation of machines to induce human intelligence, and programming them to mimic human cognitive functions, like problem-solving, pattern recognition, and learning. AI has shown endless possibilities in the construction industry and can help reduce construction costs in numerous ways.
Reports suggest that the global market for AI in the construction sector is predicted to reach $4.51 billion by 2026. The industry’s urgent need for easy risk mitigation of quality, safety, and the time and cost consumption will drive the growth of AI.
While discussing AI, another term that crops up is Machine Learning (ML). ML is a subset of AI that enables computer systems to learn from data, without being explicitly programmed. The machine develops a better understanding and generates more precise insights as it is exposed to more data.
Potential of AI in Construction
The exceptional attributes of AI can be used to make construction sites safer, boost efficiency, and reduce waste. AI can offer tremendous benefits for the construction industry, which makes it a field worth exploring.
Construction projects struggle with issues like requests for information, change in orders, etc. on a regular basis. Machine learning can act as a smart assistant to scrutinize the humongous amount of data. It can alert project managers regarding critical issues in need of immediate attention.
Many applications have been using AI for mundane tasks like filtering of spam emails to advanced safety monitoring solutions. The services range from optimizing work schedules to enhancing workplace safety to monitoring construction facilities. AI is already proving its value and has a lot more to bring to the table.
Applications of AI in Construction
1. Generative Design
Generative design can be referred to as AI’s ability to explore several different variations of a model to find the best suitable option. In order to develop the design of a building, its 3D models should comprise of the architecture, engineering, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) plans in the correct order, making it easier for the different construction teams to work. However, the challenge lies in ensuring that the different models from the sub-teams do not clash with each other.
Generative design can be put to use in this case where AI would take a BIM model and analyze numerous minor and significant design changes to make a system safer, more stable, or simply cheaper and faster to build. It would require months for a human being to explore these many possibilities, whereas an AI engineering program could achieve it within hours.
2. Project Management
Construction projects are usually susceptible to delays and cost overruns. But AI can analyze historical data such as planned start and end dates to predict realistic timelines and create forecasts of future events.
AI-enhanced project planning and management (PPM) software can be used to identify the probability of any delays in the projects, which could help revise projects and find ways for better management of time and resources.
AI is also being incorporated with drone technology to provide new perspectives on projects and their progress. AI-powered drones can recognize dangerous activity and monitor productivity levels all while making sites safer, more efficient, and productive.
3. Increased Productivity
Construction sites are starting to employ autonomous vehicles for performing various jobs throughout the construction lifecycle. A few companies have already developed autonomous bulldozers and excavators, which can be assigned a task and can work independently.
Self-driving construction machinery is being used for repetitive tasks like concrete pouring, bricklaying, welding, and demolition. These machines can work more efficiently than their human counterparts, thus making employees available for more critical jobs while reducing the overall construction time.
For instance, a project located in a far away location could utilize remote diggers for working 24/7, ensuring completion of work at a much faster pace.
4. Improved Safety
Many applications have been using AI for mundane tasks like filtering of spam emails to advanced safety monitoring solutions.. Construction workers are five times more likely to be exposed to life-threatening scenarios as compared to the laborers in other industries.
Job sites can be equipped with cameras, IoT devices, and sensors to monitor different aspects of construction operations. With the help of facial and object recognition technology, AI systems can detect unsafe behavior and notify the construction team of potential hazards.
AI is also being developed to analyze images from a site, scan them for potential safety hazards, and compare them with previous accident records. The technology can also be used for monitoring tools, equipment, and supplies by sending out alerts in case of any attempt of theft at the site.
5. Building Management
The advantages of AI are not limited just to the construction process; it can display enormous capabilities even after the completion of a project. The information of the structure stored in BIM can be used by building managers to monitor developing issues and offer solutions to prevent problems.
AI can automate and optimize facility management, which will, in turn, reduce operational costs. These include energy optimization, preventative maintenance and fault detection, and enhancing the experience of the occupants on a holistic level.
Artificial intelligence is the simulation of machines to induce human intelligence, and programming them to mimic human cognitive functions, like problem-solving, pattern recognition, and learning.
Machine Learning is a subset of AI that enables computer systems to learn from data, without being explicitly programmed. The machine develops a better understanding and generates more precise insights as it is exposed to more data.
AI can provide several advantages ranging from generative design, project management, to increased productivity, improved safety, and building management.