Artificial Intelligence(AI) in Construction
The idea of artificial intelligence has been there since time immemorial, conjuring visions of robotic technologies and intelligent systems. In the present world, Artificial Intelligence has not yet reached its zenith but is progressing rapidly with massive developments in various industries such as the information technology industry, shopping industry, and construction industry.
AI is the backbone or frontrunner of many firms worldwide, such as Amazon, Google, Meta, and Microsoft. The biggest advancement in AI has been through smartphones where people can enjoy convenience via AI-powered technologies. The concept of AI is being used across almost every industry to grow at a much faster pace by providing lucrative commercial applications. The construction industry is one of the industries that is using AI to enhance the numerous operations involved by developing efficient methodologies and developments. The use of AI in the construction industry is not only improving the production capabilities but also improving the quality and safety of these projects. It is mostly because of AI that the construction industry is on the verge of digitalization, which is unsettling the traditional processes involved in construction projects and creating more opportunities for everybody. AI can increase the efficiency of project processes throughout the entire value chain, from planning and designing building structures.
The construction industry has been suffering such as delays, cost overruns, safety issues, and profitability rates because of inefficient and approximate approaches towards solving problems that can now be overcome with the help of Artificial Intelligence AI. Companies that are quick to upgrade their technologies with the developments in the digitization of the construction industry are going to gain a significant advantage over their competitors. But how can AI be used in construction for your project? What are the benefits that AI can provide in the construction industry?
Let’s answer these questions one at a time to understand the uses and benefits of Artificial Intelligence AI in construction clearly.
Uses of Artificial Intelligence(AI) in the Construction Industry
Real-life and feasible applications of AI in different construction processes and operations in a construction project lifecycle are multifold and some of the significant ones are explained below:
1. Design and Planning
The first step after the inception of an idea for a construction project is design and planning which is a crucial step in shaping the construction stages smoothly and without any delays or cost overruns. Creating different designs and simultaneously checking the architectural stats and suitability, along with other deciding parameters, is quite time-consuming, especially in large-scale construction projects. These construction projects are prone to failure due to inappropriate planning and design which have been witnessed in construction history persistently. With the onset of AI technology in the construction industry, the design exploration process has become more feasible and efficient, providing instant simulations for different designs.
This is possible because when AI technology comes into play, which has access to databases from similar projects constructed in the past, can create multiple design alternatives based on this knowledge from the database. The entire process is quite simple, where the design goals, along with the desired parameters, such as shapes, performance, and cost criteria, must be uploaded as input into the design software to generate probable designs. The software, which is powered by AI, then explores all possible design solutions as per the specifications provided and selects the best-suited design choice for construction.
In the process of devising designs for several projects through iteration, the AI-powered software becomes smarter and more powerful. This feature of AI improves the traditional designing approach as it considers more parameters and probable solutions. Thus, AI promotes generative designs for construction projects that make the entire process cheaper, on time and of higher quality.
The generative design feature of AI also increases creativity by assisting architects in designing shapes and curves they could only dream of before, and providing innovative design solutions. Without the use of AI in construction projects, comparing planning documents with the utilities present on-site needs to be done regularly, which involves countless reworks and reassessments, consuming huge amounts of time and money. This hiccup in the construction processes can be easily tackled with AI technology which can help predict operation clashes early on in the project duration and provide solutions to tackle them if they are inevitable.
2. Construction Process
The construction industry has grown rapidly, unlike its productivity output, which has shown little or marginal growth in the past decades, and this can be attributed to mostly operational inefficiencies on the construction sites themselves. These inefficiencies can be thought of as a result of many factors, such as the huge time invested in transports, rearrangements, search for materials, and the challenges caused by inevitable delays in construction projects, especially megaprojects. Most construction projects are essentially delayed, face cost overruns, deviate from the planned approach, and pose massive setbacks to construction firms or contractors.
AI can streamline the execution of operations and tasks in a construction project and instantly update project details while keeping the stakeholders informed. This greatly increases the productivity output of the construction process. AI-based software and tools possess the ability to detect unforeseen roadblocks, delays, and clashes occurring during a construction project by collating a digital twin of the structure present inside the BIM cloud against the actual physical structure. AI can track the actual progress in a construction project with input data from drones and robots that can frequently record images and 360o scans. This helps in identifying the problems that may occur during the construction phase rapidly and thus computes probable solutions much earlier on in the operational phase. This eliminates costly corrections and changes made later on during the project.
The AI-based BIM can also trigger automatic changes in the operations and schedules stored in the BIM Cloud inform the different stakeholders automatically, and subsequently optimize the project operations to complete them on time. Also, during a construction project, on-site accidents are almost unavoidable, which increases the overall cost and time consumption. The importance of safety at construction sites is apparent from the frequent accidents occurring on all construction sites. In combination with cameras, computer vision at construction sites can be powered by AI to mitigate the risks related to construction sites and reduce the number of accidents by a considerable number. Many companies have already adopted AI-based approaches to eliminate accidents on construction sites by making working employees more aware of their surroundings.
AI can also be used to detect possible safety hazards much in advance and give warning signs so that the workers can take precautionary measures to safeguard themselves, and responsible staff can be called to hazardous locations to eliminate or reduce its effects. Employees on sites can make full use of AI-based tools to their advantage by availing services such as searching tools, knowing equipment status, locating service outlets. This way the overall productivity of a construction site is improved as workers do not have to spend hours searching for tools or equipment. AI can potentially simplify the use of heavy machinery by scheduling routine tasks related to the machines that help eliminate errors and improve efficiency.
3. Facility Management
On-site materials and supplies must be monitored and managed regularly at frequent intervals so that there is no shortage of supplies that can delay the respective operations and, subsequently, the entire construction project. The supply or materials in charge have to make decisions related to availability, whether to replace or repair, recheck an invoice, act or wait, and order supplies. They have to invest huge time spans to decide on these actions for materials supply on construction sites based upon data collected during the project.
This process is costly and prone to numerous risks. When AI technology is used to perform the functions of a supply manager, the data collected over the entire project lifecycle can be effortlessly analyzed so that this analysis information can be used efficiently to manage supplies on-site in no time. Companies are taking advantage of this feature provided by AI to reduce the cost and waste generated from a specific supply material. Not only does AI help manage materials, but it also assists in true predictive maintenance of structure or components that reduce the overall cost of the establishment. Sensors powered by AI technology and IoT assisted by IoT can inform about a potential problem and act in time, but no earlier than required to save money. Sometimes, these AI-powered software can be configured in such a way that allows automatic ordering of supplies to ensure they are available when needed.
The entire supply management process can be automated using AI, which learns, adapts and improves the role of a supply manager over time so that in the future when there is a shortage or need for a particular supply material; the AI-powered tool can take preemptive actions itself without any need for instructions. The AI-powered tool also learns about the time and intervals required for maintenance operations from previous supply chain management, which in turn enhances project planning. It is only because of AI that work is only done when it is needed to be done and not as a backup task.
4. Construction Material Supply
Apart from being used in construction services, Artificial Intelligence can also be used along steps of the value chain for construction material manufacturers and distributors by digitizing the entire supply chain.
The various processes involved in the supply chain, manufacture, procurement, marketing and sales, operation, service, and aftersales of producers can be performed more efficiently. AI can be used in these situations to forecast the price of materials and other supply resources. AI can determine the price of materials by considering past prices and other factors that influence price. This includes analyzing their development statistics. It can also analyze any kind of relationship that can be used to ascertain the price. AI can help forecast the price of materials and the correct time to place purchase orders. The process from purchase to payment can be simplified and automated using AI. This reduces record-keeping and improves data reachability and transparency. The best supplier in the market can be easily filtered using an AI-powered tool. This selection is based on market stats and previous businesses.
AI can be used fully to improve the production process related to building materials and could prove to be the necessary force required in the current supply chain management scenario to initiate the next big leap towards better quality and improved efficiency. A huge amount of data can be collected with the help of Artificial Intelligence AI generated during the building material production process. This data can range from production unit information to raw material processing data. The use of Artificial Intelligence AI in this entire process can enhance the output and efficiency of production. In production units, AI can enhance production capacities and reduce production downtimes. It does so through the early detection of blockades and providing efficient energy usage tips to lower energy costs.
AI technology helps firms assess and analyze customer requirements in marketing and sales. This process enables the accurate estimation of targeted advertising expenditures. It also facilitates the tailoring of products according to demand or the development of strategies to create demand for specific products. This is done by AI-powered tools by analyzing the connecting points between the product and the consumers. AI can be used to analyze means of transportation suited to the material, product, and production facility. This analysis takes into account available routes, traffic during transportation, etc. Lastly, for customer service and sales, AI can be used to interact with customers automatically. This applies in cases of any inquiries or complaints. This is achieved with the help of chatbots that have been configured and improved over time. The improvements come from experience gained from customer interactions.
Artificial Intelligence is being researched by construction experts. This research aims to enable the use of Artificial Intelligence in various aspects of managing construction projects. The goal is to enhance the efficiency of the construction industry. Project management tools specifically devised for the construction industry can greatly facilitate construction project management. These tools are designed to make the construction process smoother and more efficient. The Powerplay application proves to be an all-rounder in construction project management. It can be easily handled by all employees, clients, and contractors specific to a construction project.There are many applications out there for this purpose globally, but Powerplay is India’s first construction project management application that can be used to manage almost all types of construction projects in the country.