Using Artificial Intelligence in the Construction Sector

Every sector has been improved and pushed forward thanks to the use of artificial intelligence, or AI for short. With it, we can store more data, make more comparisons, and even substitute labor for machinery; robots can even perform simple construction tasks, like bricklaying. In fact, artificial intelligence is used throughout all parts of the construction process, from planning all the way up to demolition.

Its use then continues throughout the building’s life, storing information and helping monitor the building’s structure. The potential of artificial intelligence in the construction sector is huge, but is the industry embracing it to its fullest? If it is, what are the benefits of doing so, in terms of labor and costs?

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Oasys, who are structure analysis software specialists, investigate how the construction sector has adapted to the use of artificial intelligence.

Different types of tech

In construction, AI has four main categories of use. Namely, it is used in the planning and design stage, throughout administration tasks, during the construction process, and after the completion of the building. Here, we explore the categories in more detail:

The planning stages

Planning and design can make use of artificial intelligence in a variety of ways, with various different machines using artificial intelligence to accomplish different goals. Autonomous equipment, for example, 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.

With this, a several-day process has been narrowed down to a single day. This helps to save firms both time and money in the form of labour.

Use in the office

AI is also used in the office to keep track and monitor various tasks, regarding everything from raw materials and suppliers, processes, and the workers themselves. 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. In this way, artificial intelligence is not only useful for monitoring the construction part of the project, but also in managing and assisting with the human resources element.  

Helping out with construction

Database systems can also be accessed by computers running with artificial intelligence and processed to present an answer to help solve any issues or identify potential problems. 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.

It can also be used to run vehicles in dangerous or risky situations without a driver present, such as at a height or on unstable ground. This is a great benefit for health and safety measures, as the operator can remain outside the vehicle. Using sensors and GPS, the vehicle can calculate the safest route to navigate through these tricky environments.

Beyond completion

Long after the workers have moved on to the next project, AI stays behind in implemented internal software throughout a completed build. In the US alone, $1.5 billion was invested in 2016 by companies looking to capitalise on this growing market. This is likely to continue to grow and expand, as technology is developing at such a pace that systems are being updated and replaced with better, faster, more efficient machines all the time.

By the end of 2017, for example, the Las Vega Wynn hotel had an Amazon Echo installed in every room. These devices can be used for aspects of the room such as lighting, temperature and any audio-visual equipment contained in the room. Customers love features like these, especially if they are used to using them at home. And indeed, many people are accustomed to such technology as part of their everyday living now; these systems are frequently seen within domestic settings, allowing homeowners to control aspects of their home through voice commands and systems that control all electronic components from one device.

Storing data

Building information modelling (BIM) is used throughout a building’s lifespan, from creation to demolition, in order to store critical information regarding the structure and decisions on a building. Virtual assistants, also known as VAs, can then be used to add a conversational element alongside this 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 VA’s could inform engineers specifically where the problem was and how it can be fixed. This can save not only time, but potentially lives if the structure damage is in an obscure area of the building. Plus, with the use of building information modelling alongside the virtual assistant, information about any previous issues and decisions regarding the highlighted area can also be flagged up when the VA alerts the engineer to the issue. This gives the engineer the extra advantage of historical information and details that may contribute or link to the problem at hand.

Construction has benefited hugely from AI, both in terms of cost and in terms of labor. AIs can also help to replace redundant labor to allow for the industry to make efficiency savings that weren’t possible before this type of technology existed. 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.

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