4 Ways A.I. Is at the Heart of Construction Progress

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Companies in the construction industry have overwhelmingly been conservative in the adoption of technology. It’s not that owners and managers are averse to progress; it’s not that they wouldn’t like to improve the way jobs are completed. It’s just that the risks can be huge, the margins for error narrow, and the benefits of adoption different for each company.

A.I.; image: Investopedia.com

Still emerging on the scene, artificial intelligence (AI) is one technology where the benefits of adoption are initially unknowns. Following are 4 ways AI is at the heart of construction progress.  


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  1. POWER

The use of AI seems inevitable in construction as the industry tries to rapidly respond to urbanization and globalization demands. Challenges of limited space, tight schedules and budgets, productivity, labor shortages, efficiency, health, and safety all point to AI as a part of the solutions. It’s more a question of how soon that will happen, not if it will happen. The power of AI in pattern detection helps in modeling, prediction, reducing errors and worker injuries, alleviating labor shortages, enhancing sustainability, and optimizing building design.

  1. LESS RISK

AI can automate tasks in powerful and amazing ways. It can quickly and efficiently solve challenges that have faced construction companies for hundreds of years. However, without a specific scenario that demands AI, the attitude in many companies is they don’t have the luxury of testing it out while working on an active project – and they are always working on an active project.

The 2022 Peak Decision Intelligence Maturity Report found nearly all construction companies surveyed are either currently using or intend to use AI. But disappointingly, only slightly more than half of those companies’ AI projects in the past five years were reportedly successful. This result could be improved if companies first identify a desired outcome before they implement AI. When the strategy has buy-in from appropriate staff, the success rate of AI projects is likely to increase, validating and inspiring adoption of AI.

A.I. in construction; image: ESUB
  1. DATA

Then there’s the data. A recent article by Construction Dive posited that the biggest obstacle construction companies face is understanding and focusing on project data. Of AI, the article stated, “2023 will be the year of widespread adoption, if contractors can get a handle on their data — and learn to share.”

The article stated collecting and managing data in a dynamic and complex industry like construction is much more challenging than it is in a controlled environment like manufacturing. Every construction project brings with it an abundance of data from a variety of sources existing in separate buckets owned by different entities. Most companies have historically held their information close, concerned about their competitive advantage. Thus, historical data is sparse, to the detriment of progress.

  1. COLLABORATION

Data needs to be extracted from jobs in a way that it can be used to make modeling and prediction more precise. But the data amassed by one company is not enough to affect the outcome of AI adoption. Many believe the key to success with AI industry-wide is sharing.

The difference could come from sharing and collaborating industry-wide using a plethora of information many companies have collected from their projects and processed. The industry could develop standards and predictive outcomes using anonymously-sourced data needed for AI and machine learning processes that could promote progress.

With the ability to recognize patterns and solve problems at a scale and speed that humans cannot achieve, AI is already reshaping the way buildings are designed, built and operated. As part of a business strategy and combined with human imagination, it can deliver substantial advantages to construction companies with real-time data, the ability to automate decision-making, and resulting in progress, individually and industry-wide.


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