Artificial intelligence has become an integral part of our day-to-day lives – be it the interactions with Siri, Alexa and Google assistant or the latest AI-powered iPhone camera. AI also has a dominant presence in today’s industries across varied domains of healthcare, e-commerce and financial services. In this article, we will trace the role of AI in construction and outline its benefits.

According to the Global Construction Industry Report, the construction industry is expected to reach 10.5 trillion dollars by 2023, with good opportunities for growth in residential, non-residential and infrastructure projects. Artificial Intelligence in the construction market is projected to generate a revenue of $2.6 billion by 2026. AI in construction can help manage complex challenges faced by construction companies such as labour shortages, time and cost overruns, health and safety hazards and low productivity. In the rest of this article, we will explore the benefits of leveraging AI as a business model in the construction industry. 

AI in Construction

How Smart Construction is reaping the benefit of AI

AI has the potential to improve construction projects at every phase of its lifecycle; from bidding, planning designs and construction to managing assets and operations and making worksites safer. Automation and optimization of key workflows enabled by AI are of great value in this sector. 

The following are the benefits of the smart construction industry:

  1. Enhanced Worksite Safety

AI and machine learning largely help reduce the risk of accidents at construction sites. AI systems can forecast the risk scores – ie any safety, quality, and productivity issues – by rapidly receiving and analysing large amounts of data in real-time to detect safety hazards. In addition to identifying unsafe actions on site, AI in construction can predict machine breakdowns using sensor data and determine the appropriate course of action. Worker safety on construction sites has greatly improved by reducing the probability of accidents, thanks to AI-driven robotic process automation, where dangerous construction activities are automated using robots. Helmet detection API technology enables scanning photos from job sites for safety risks, such as workers without protective equipment or helmets. As a result, AI can identify security concerns, prevent unsafe behaviour, and create a safer working environment. 

  1. Simplified and Efficient Planning

A large-scale construction project involves planning based on numerous parameters including labour, equipment availability, raw material procurement and construction methods. AI in construction helps in creating multiple efficient project management and schedules quickly by manipulating these parameters with ease. Reinforcement learning, an AI technique, finds good use in construction management, enabling effective decision-making.  

  1. Improved Construction Designs 

Traditional design planning processes involve crafting models and drawing blueprints, which are more time-consuming and rely solely on the expertise of the designer. In addition, traditional design methods cannot create multiple designs quickly based on variations in the parameters. To overcome these pitfalls, AI-based generative design is popularly used in construction design, in recent years. Generative design is a software-based, iterative, exploration technique that uses AI algorithms to generate a range of designs that optimise the goals while meeting the constraints. Learning from past designs and models, these systems can quickly auto-generate optimal construction designs while reducing time and cost.  

  1. Stronger Risk Mitigation

In large construction projects, several risks are associated with quality, safety, timelines, human errors, and miscalculations, all of which require a well-defined mitigation plan. Predictive AI plays an important role in creating digital products and business models that facilitate effective and informed decision-making and mitigating construction risks. Predictive AI systems, can assess project performance and forewarn of delays, cost overruns, and design and safety risks by analyzing large amounts of historical data.

  1. Reduced Budget Overruns

Construction companies have projects that tend to overrun budgets due to issues such as design flaws, inaccurate forecasts, unexpected events, and increased scope. Statistics indicate that nine out of ten construction projects overrun budgets, with an overall average overrun of 28%. Predictive models based on artificial intelligence help project managers anticipate cost overruns and envision realistic timelines for upcoming projects. AI in construction can also be used to tackle labour shortages, generate reports for past projects, identify the source of cost overruns, and make more accurate budget forecasts.

The Future of AI in Construction

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning has transformed the construction industry in recent years and we will only see more disruptions in the future. Robotic construction using brick laying robots is already a reality and will pave way for intelligent construction. Electricity and plumbing systems in modern buildings are designed using AI.  Companies provide AI powered worksite safety systems to monitor and mitigate construction site hazards. 

Despite predictions of massive job losses, AI will likely have a more positive impact on the smart construction industry than its detractors predict. AI in construction will not replace the human workforce, but instead, use their expertise to build smarter artificial intelligence platforms. This could effectively avoid expensive errors, reduce worksite injuries and make building operations more efficient. Leaders of construction companies should prioritise investment in AI  – early movers will set the direction for the industry, reaping large benefits, both in the short and long term.

Edited By : Naga Vydyanathan