Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology is no longer confined to science fiction movies and instead is delivering significant benefits in a range of different industry sectors. In this article, we will consider the extent to which AI technology is likely to complement and transform the construction workforce over the next ten years.
How AI can benefit the construction industry
The construction industry is under significant pressure to reduce costs, increase efficiency and meet challenging carbon reduction targets. There are many ways in which AI technology can improve the safety, efficiency and productivity of the construction workforce and support it in meeting targets, both internal and as part of wider strategies.
1. Reduce costs.
Skilled workers are expensive and in short supply. The use of robotics and automation technologies will transform labour-intensive and repetitive tasks in the industry, such as brick-laying and heavy lifting, freeing up skilled individuals to focus on value-added activities which cannot be performed by robotics. This will not only reduce the costs associated with future builds but will improve worker safety and productivity as well.
2. Increase efficiency.
AI-powered management systems have the ability to analyse vast quantities of data to aid with project planning, design and management. The technology can support project managers in identifying risks, anticipating delays, informing decision-making, enabling proactive solutions to be deployed and streamlining processes which will make for a more efficient programme of work.
Nothing is more frustrating to a construction worker than downing tools because of equipment failures. Predictive maintenance could be the answer. AI algorithms can be used to analyse the data that is generated by the equipment, such as its temperature, vibration and other performance-related metrics to predict failures before they happen. By preemptively scheduling maintenance tasks, it is possible to avoid many causes of equipment failure, optimising the lifespan of the equipment and increasing efficiency on site.
3. Improve safety.
Safety monitoring systems can be programmed to identify on-site risks and, by continually analysing sensors and cameras that are strategically located around the site, identify potential hazards, and safety violations and issue alerts to workers who may be inadvertently breaching safety protocols. This technology can promote a proactive safety culture which can reduce workplace accidents and create a safer environment for staff.
Some construction firms may wish to consider using virtual reality technologies in staff training exercises, providing both new starters and experienced operators with the opportunity to develop and hone their skills in a virtual environment. Augmented reality and virtual reality training simulations have a proven track record for allowing workers to test new processes and practise complex tasks within a virtual environment before putting them into practice on site, thus improving outcomes and safety.
4. Meet carbon reduction targets.
The enhancements in planning and design that are offered by AI technology can help construction experts to reduce wastage, streamline project designs, incorporate energy efficiency measures at the outset, and utilise robotics and automation technologies to increase productivity and reduce timescales. And this is all good for the environment, reducing the carbon emissions generated from both the build and in-service phases of construction projects.
It is likely that pressure will continue to mount for the construction industry to reduce its carbon emissions and contribute more proactively to the government's Net Zero By 2050 target, so employing technology that reduces the burden on human operators and generates evidence-based data to substantiate claims of improvements will be valuable in avoiding penalties for non-compliance and mandates for performance improvement.
Accepting and incorporating AI technologies into the construction industry could yield some incredible benefits for organisations within the industry. When used effectively by highly trained and experienced personnel, the technology can improve worker safety, reduce costs and timescales, improve productivity and help construction site workers to develop their skills and capabilities.
It is very likely that the ongoing adoption of AI technology will permeate the construction industry and support the achievement of organisational and governmental targets, with projects being achieved with greater levels of precision and sustainability than was previously possible.
Build Space support
If your organisation wishes to make the leap and incorporate AI technologies into its daily business, please contact Build Space today. We are a cutting-edge talent partner for the construction industry with access to specialist talent that will fill the gaps in your workforce, help to embed new strategies and next-gen technologies and support your existing team to become future-ready.