When Data Builds Your Job: Artificial Intelligence in Construction


Did you know that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already (likely) a part of your daily life? Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s search algorithms, Facebook Messenger, Slack – it’s all AI. In the construction industry, it shows up in the form of drone videos, security sensors, and Building Information Modeling (BIM). So, what exactly is AI?

What Is AI?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a term describing when machines mimic human cognitive functions, like learning and pattern recognition. AI combines computer science and datasets to simplify reviewing the past and reporting on the present. In construction it can proactively communicate when there are changes in safety and project milestones.

What Are the Four Types of AI?

  1.  Reactive Machines – The first stage to AI and the simplest. It reacts to input with some output, but no learning occurs. 

  2.  Limited Memory – AI that stores data and predictions to make better ones. 

  3.  Theory of Mind – AI that interacts with human thoughts and emotions. 

  4.  Self-Aware – AI with independent intelligence. 

Examples of AI in Construction

  –  Software that forecasts the price of materials and picks the best time to buy to avoid the woes of the supply chain. 

  –  Self-driving construction machinery that is more accurate, efficient, and safe. 

  –  Drones that are used to gather photos and video that can be analyzed for jobsite hazards, productivity, and security. 

  –  Generative Design that uses databases of previously built plans to produce design alternatives and anticipate needs to find the best design possible for the project.

How Is AI Changing the Construction Industry?

Prevents Budget Overruns

Artificial neural networks are one of the main tools used in machine learning. They intend to replicate the way humans learn and find patterns. With historical data, they can predict cost overruns based on project size, contract type, and experience level of project managers. There are neural networks that can also see how far along projects are, allowing managers to deal with any small delays before they become major issues. 

Mitigates Risk

There are AI and machine learning solutions today that monitor and prioritize risk on the jobsite. If there is a high-risk team, PMs can work more closely with that trade to mitigate risk. Construction sites are also using AI to monitor security footage, protecting expensive equipment and materials that are unattended. 

Improves Productivity & Efficiency

AI can communicate real-time project status to team members, such as material and equipment delivery, weather conditions, and track who is on the jobsite. The use of self-driving construction machinery is more efficient at performing repetitive tasks than human counterparts. And drones are improving efficiencies in things like roofing inspection, validating what an inspector is seeing.

Reduces Safety Risks

Construction is one of the highest-risk industries and safety culture is vital to success. There is AI that analyzes photos from jobsites, scans them for hazards like workers not wearing PPE, and correlates the images with accident records. 

Provides a Solution to Labor Shortage

Contractors are using AI and machine learning to plan for the distribution of labor and machinery across their jobsites. Data can help tell if a job is running behind and needs more workers on-site, or if a machine is sitting dormant when it could be utilized in another area of the project to stay on schedule. 

Extracts & Delivers Rich Data

Every jobsite is a colossal data source of AI. Data is generated everywhere, from mobile devices and drone videos to security sensors and software. Data analytics from AI can assist with preventative action, like detecting parts of unoccupied buildings and adjusting HVAC in those areas to reduce energy costs.

What Is the Future of AI?

AI will alter business models in the construction industry, reduce costly errors and worksite injuries, and make building operations more efficient. Things like the routing of electrical systems, sending robots into buildings under construction to track progress, and alerting managers of productivity issues will become the norm. There will be benefit off the jobsite too. The more data acquired the more AI learning will improve construction software development and capabilities, making your company more efficient. 

If you’re not quite ready for robots on the jobsite, that’s ok. Get started by automating manual processes with STACK. Our cloud-based platform significantly reduces the manual administrative burdens of the job, freeing your time to be more productive. Create a free account today! 

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