Step aside Spielberg— AI on the jobsite is coming to the big screens of the construction industry, and it’s gaining momentum moving into the new year.
AI-powered technologies are rapidly gaining traction on the jobsite as a way to improve construction process and design. In fact, the market for AI in construction could reach $2.3 billion by 2025, up from 466.9 million in 2019 — a CAGR of 33.87%. Throughout 2021, we can expect to see AI work its way into every stage of the construction project process.
Here are just a few areas where AI is making it mark:
Cutting costs and eliminating waste.
Cost and waste plague the construction industry and can have a severe impact on budgets. According to a 2017 Mckinsey study, businesses and individuals spend $10 trillion per year on construction-related activities. Generative design helps solve this problem, by enabling designers to leverage automation to explore and test out alternative designs before construction begins. Similarly, BIM enables project designers to explore all options and angles of building sites as well as interior mechanical and electrical systems, and surface potential areas of interference between design elements.
Both technologies leverage AI to optimize building processes and accelerate decision-making about complex design problems. They use data collected during construction by sensors, construction cameras and other means, which can be analyzed together to provide helpful insights that help firms save time and cut costs significantly.
Increasing productivity to combat the labor shortage.
In addition to reducing waste and improving product quality, AI is helping firms mitigate the impact of the ongoing labor shortage. According to the Associated General Contractors of America (ACG), more than 60% of construction firms are struggling to fill labor positions — and that problem is exacerbated by Covid-19 restrictions and the need to quarantine workers following possible exposures.
Along with automating time-consuming manual tasks, AI can be used to optimize worker productivity by assessing progress and alerting project managers to potential problems that could cause delays. For instance, advanced construction cameras feature AI-powered sensors that can alert teams to equipment failures, helping to avoid setbacks that can impact project schedules. AI can also be applied to analyzing employee profiles and skill sets, to help allocate responsibilities and assign tasks based on ability and experience.
Slightly more controversial is the use of AI-powered robots for completing repetitive jobsite tasks or for implementing 3D printing, which is becoming more common in construction, particularly in modular building. 3D printing robots can help firms reduce costs substantially — some experts say firms can cut labor needs by up to 70% simply by replacing a quarter of their projects with 3D printing structures.
Using AI on the Jobsite to Improve operations, logistics and safety.
Analyzing data from previous projects with AI and machine-learning algorithms can help improve and streamline myriad back-office processes, such as scheduling, logistics, staffing and more. It can help identify weak points and locate areas in need of improvement, and draw attention to regularly encountered setbacks so that project managers can circumvent similar issues on future projects.
Firms can also use AI and machine learning to analyze data collected over the course of past projects to help reduce jobsite injuries and other safety hazards. This includes using image recognition and classification algorithms to mine visual data from construction cameras — videos and still images — and uncover potentially unsafe jobsite practices and worker behaviors. Not only does this help keep workers safe, it prevents potential lawsuits and fines, as well as additional unexpected expenses or lost productivity due to injury or safety concerns.
The Tip of the Iceberg
Throughout 2021, expect to see AI work its way into every stage of the construction project process. As the construction industry warms up to the idea of advanced uses for AI and machine learning and the great potential they hold, new applications of AI will emerge that will further improve processes, bolster jobsite safety and productivity, and enable faster, more cost-effective construction.
To learn more about some of the other trends we are predicting for 2021, download our eBook, 5 Key Trends that Will Have a Significant Impact on Construction in 2021.