The construction industry’s relationship with artificial intelligence

Business Insights
05/03/2018

Artificial intelligence has had an impact on almost every industry, making it easier to get the job done. This is no different in the construction industry, as the way we design and build our structures is changing too. Artificial intelligence is where machines exhibit their own intelligence through using algorithms to solve problems using inputted data. By harnessing robotics, construction managers can utilise intelligent machines that can perform routine tasks that were once completed by humans, such as bricklaying. Alternatively, AI systems can collate and organise information for engineers to use within project planning and design implementation.


Here, we assess the way the construction industry is starting to use AI in order to complete projects that contain fewer errors, less omissions, safer working practices, improved workflows and more on-time worksite completions:


The four areas of artificial intelligence


There are four main categories when it comes to working with artificial intelligence and utilising it to its full potential:


Stage 1: planning


To ensure a better and more reliant planning process, artificial intelligence is commonly used. Autonomous equipment is considered as AI as it is aware of its surroundings and is capable of navigation without human input. In the planning stages, AI machinery can survey a proposed construction site and gather enough information to create 3D maps, blueprints and construction plans.


Without the utilisation of artificial intelligence, a job would take weeks to complete — but can now be done within one day. This helps to save firms both time and money.


Step 2: taking control


Unlike ever before, artificial intelligence can help manage specific projects at a high standard to ensure the job gets done. For example, workers can input sick days, vacancies and sudden departures into a data system and it will adapt the project accordingly. The AI will understand that the task must be moved to another employee and will do so on its own accord.


Step 3: being the informant


Taking a more managerial position, artificial intelligence can use its own database to help inform engineers on how to complete certain tasks for the best result. For example, if engineers were working on a proposed new bridge, AI systems would be able to advise and present a case for how the bridge should be constructed. This is based on past projects over the last 50 years, as well as verifying pre-existing blueprints for the design and implementation stages of the project. By having this information to hand, engineers can make crucial decisions based on evidence that they may not have previously had at their disposal.


At one time, drivers would have to be inside of a vehicle to control it — using artificial intelligence, they can use autonomous technology and site machinery in one — removing the danger of being at risky heights. Using sensors and GPS, the vehicle can calculate the safest route.


Stage 4: the end of a project


Although on a construction site, artificial intelligence is commonly used during the build, but it can also be used within the structure. In the US alone, $1.5 billion was invested in 2016 by companies looking to capitalise on this growing market.


Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas has installed an Amazon Echo into every room to enhance the guest experience. These devices can be used for aspects of the room such as lighting, temperature and any audio-visual equipment. These systems can also be used within domestic settings, allowing homeowners to control aspects of their home through voice commands and systems that control all electronic components from one device.


The power of building information modelling


Building Informing Modelling, otherwise known as BIM, can be used to store all types of information about a project — from the planning stages to the day the building gets demolished. This can include all key decisions that were made during the build by those in managerial positions.


Virtual assistants are also growing in popularity within this sector, enabling a conversation element to provide the necessary information. By combining VAs alongside NFC (near-field communication), VAs can be given additional information to the building itself in real-time from various sensors in the building. For example, if there were structural problems with a building, then VAs could inform engineers specifically where the problem was and how it can be fixed.


Businesses can save a lot through the use of virtual assistants and artificial intelligence; combined on a construction site, they can ensure more efficient savings and a higher workload. As the future of AI becomes more of a reality within construction, only time will tell how reliant upon intelligent machines we will have to be in order to construct innovative building designs.


This article was brought to you by Oasys, specialists in structure analysis software.

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