Artificial Intelligence in the Construction Industry

The world of AI (artificial intelligence) and VAs (virtual assistants) has expanded into many different verticals, one being the construction industry. We have seen a huge jump in the use of AI within the construction space and that is a great sign for what the future holds.

When looking at how AI is being utilized within the construction space today, it can be categorized into four different perspectives: equipment, administrative, construction methodology, and post-construction.

From an equipment perspective, Komatsu started Smart Construction where drones are used to survey construction sites, create 3D maps, extract blueprints, and simulate construction plans. Now, processes such as these that can typically take weeks can be done in one day.

From an administration perspective, AI is being used to move toward a paperless, more streamlined industry. For example, the exchange of information that needs to take place between architects, construction workers, and the ultimate customer can be cumbersome. PlanGrid is a program that allows people to access and exchange blueprints on different devices to create a smoother interaction between people.

One of the biggest advantages of AI is in construction methodology, especially from a safety stand point. So, imagine you are an engineer working on developing a tunnel support system. In the past, you would have to rely on your own experience and that of those around you. Now, engineers can leverage expert systems that include evidence of designs that have been done in the past 50 or so years. These expert systems can intelligently provide suggested designs, assist in reviewing and verifying designs, and offer engineers a large set of knowledge that would otherwise be unbeknownst to them.

Lastly, AI in post-construction has been trending for a few years now in the form of smart home systems and IoT (Internet of Things). One of the major players includes Samsung C&T with its ability to control temperature, lights, electricity, locks, and robot vacuums; the list goes on and on.

In addition to the companies mentioned above, many leading brands are making significant investments further branching into the construction space. Oracle recently acquired Textura to form the Oracle Engineering and Construction Global Business Unity, which offers a comprehensive cloud-based project control and execution platform that manages all phases of engineering and construction projects, according to the company’s website. Also, SAP provides construction companies with solutions that cover everything from job costing and bidding to project management and HR. 

These companies and many others are recognizing the trends in this space, and are using AI as a powerful tool to capitalize on these trends. For example, AI can help with the skilled labor shortage the construction industry is currently facing. Due to a downturn in the industry, workers were either laid off or venturing into a different field. With AI and automation, simple, redundant jobs can be left to machines, leaving the more skilled tasks to humans.

AI also plays an important role in BIM (building information modeling).  With BIM, people have access to the entire history of a building, from its birth, to the management in between, all the way until its demolition. AI and VAs come into the picture by adding a conversational interface to this knowledge. The vision would be to integrate this conversational interface with NFC (near-field communication) to give the VA access to sensors in the building itself, so if something is happening it will be known in realtime. One scenario where this would be beneficial would be with first responders. Imagine first responders getting to a location, and the VA and NFC provides them with information pertaining to the building in realtime, allowing them to make the most appropriate decisions, quickly.

The technology is here and readily available to use. Construction companies have already started adopting the use of artificial intelligence within the field, and tech companies are starting to recognize the impact AI will have in the construction industry. As for the future, AI is still in its elementary stage. When you take a step back and look at how much growth AI still has, the possibilities are endless for AI to impact any industry.

Diego Ventura is the CEO of nohold. He can be reached at diego@nohold.com

Posted: 8/19/2016 2:05:39 PM



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