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What Is the Potential for AI in Construction?

The construction industry is changing at a fast pace. Construction workers today use high-tech tools such as drones, tablets, and AI to improve safety and efficiency. AI in construction has reached the point where it can increase worker productivity, quality of work, and most of all safety.

It can help grasp all kinds of problems construction workers face every day. Its ability to learn from previous projects is quickly driving the industry forward on all fronts, and it's showing no signs of stopping. Let's take a closer look at Ai in construction.

AI in Construction

AI or artificial intelligence uses machine learning to mimic human behavior. However, since computers can handle massive amounts of data, AI can spot patterns, learn from experience, and scan images to extract information. As the ML system is fed with data, it learns over time and can provide valuable insights that can help improve the operation.

When it comes to construction, the same approach can go a long way for improving construction site safety, reducing waste, and making all processes more efficient. For example, using drones that fly over the construction site improves monitoring and offers a different perspective into potential safety problems, errors, etc. Once it has all the information, the AI can propose actions to boost efficiency and prevent potential injuries. 

Examples of AI Applications in Construction

Here are some examples of how AI improves construction sites on a daily basis. 

1. Predictive Maintenance

All ML systems learn from historical as well as real-time data. Once it understands how everything works, it can make accurate predictions on future events. The same can be applied to construction sites. For example, you can use issue reports from previous construction jobs to train the AI and allow it to find potential issues before they happen.

Moreover, with IoT, you can provide a constant data feed to allow the AI to make accurate predictions. For example, it can help workers get a better understanding of how different materials behave. It can also identify risks and alert the manager about the potential dangers.

2. Improved Building Design

Most architects use 3D rendering and modeling to design buildings in a virtual environment. The practice proved to be very efficient at finding potential design flaws before the construction phase. Moreover, engineers and construction workers can collaborate with the architect to ensure that the final design is as good as possible. 

All systems can use the same approach during the design phase. Plumbing, electricity, mechanics, engineering, and everything in between can be developed in a virtual environment, but the challenge is to create models that work in synergy with one another. That's where AI in construction can help a lot.

It can quickly identify different systems and ensure that the construction phase gets done without clashes between the construction teams. It can create a schedule, optimize different construction phases, and organize all teams correctly to prevent risky situations on the site.

3. Job Site Data Analytics

Most construction sites use advanced scanners to scan the area and recreate the site in 3D. If you feed the data to an ML system, it can detect issues and help improve project management. That way, workers can address issues in the earliest stages and prevent more complicated problems in the future. 

4. Land Survey and Mapping Drones

Ensuring that the construction site is safe and mapped correctly is the first step in every construction job. Traditionally, this process used to take engineers days to complete. Even so, if the terrain isn't cleared and flat, there is always room for error. Well, that's where AI can help a lot.

Today, engineers use drones to scan the map from the air and make accurate measurements. Moreover, drones can also fly over the construction site during different project phases to pinpoint issues and find potential health risks. Having a birds-eye view can drastically improve decision-making and project tracking.

5. AI-Driven Vehicles

Some construction companies have started introducing autonomous construction equipment that can do simple tasks without humans involved. Robots can help with welding, pouring concrete, laying bricks, and demolishing buildings much more accurately than any human ever could. 

There are semi-autonomous and fully autonomous dozers that can help clear the site and handle preparation work. As long as they get accurate instructions and measurements, they can do most of the work themselves. In other words, construction workers will have more time to focus on building jobs rather than losing hours every day on prep work and site clearing.

6. Improved Workplace Safety

Thousands of workers experience serious injuries or even death on construction sites all over the world. One of the main applications of AI in construction is aimed at improving workplace safety. Of course, every construction job comes with certain risks, but the biggest projects are by far the riskiest. With dozens of people working on the same site, one small mistake can end up in disaster.

However, the use of AI and ML tools to the site can improve monitoring to minimize risk. AI can track every individual worker, rate their actions and alert the project manager about potential risks. That way, your managers will always know what's going on and find solutions to potential problems before tragedy strikes. Moreover, you can use IoT sensors to monitor every worker's location in real-time. These sensors can even trigger alerts in case one of them falls or gets injured.

7. Autonomous Off-site Construction 

These days, many construction companies use off-site factories to create pieces later assembled on the site. They often use AI that controls robots that build these pieces autonomously. Once all pieces are ready, they are taken to the construction site where workers put everything together. 

Robots are great for assembling simple construction pieces such as walls, floors, tiling, etc. Autonomous AI-driver robots can do all of the hard work, leaving your workers with more time to address delicate issues such as wiring, plumbing, HVAC, etc.

8. AI and Labor Shortages

Construction companies have been struggling with labor shortages for decades. Without enough workers, it's no wonder the industry is developing at a slow pace. Low productivity is one of the main issues for any construction company, but AI can help turn the tides once and for all.

It can help construction companies improve labor planning and distribution according to the task at hand. As mentioned above, robots can help with repetitive tasks and off-site construction, allowing workers to complete other, more demanding tasks. AI can ensure that everyone is on schedule, by scanning the site every day to see if the project is going as planned. 

9. Big Data and AI in Construction

Using drones, sensors, and other advanced technologies generates a lot of data every day. If you feed that data to an AI system, it can quickly identify issues and propose solutions to further improve efficiency. Every construction site can generate a ton of data that can help improve building design and other areas as well. There's a lot your construction professionals and engineers can learn from this data, so you shouldn't let it go to waste.

10. Post-Construction

AI in construction has an application even once a building is completed. For example, it can use sensors, drones, cameras, and other technologies to collect information about the building's performance. With enough data, it can make accurate predictions about future issues, the impact of the building on the surrounding environment, and pinpoint security and safety issues. 

AI is the Future Of Construction

It's no secret that AI is finding its way in many industries in the past few years. The same technology can help improve the construction industry through constant data analysis and site monitoring. Other advanced technologies such as IoT and robots can work together to improve overall efficiency and reduce costs by as much as 20%. 

Even though AI in construction is still in its early stages, it will soon become the go-to solution for many problems construction workers and engineers face every day. It can't replace humans completely, but it can improve efficiency, reduce errors and injuries, and offer all kinds of long-term benefits for everyone involved.