The construction industry has always been notoriously behind other industries in terms of adopting new technology. Excel sheets, clipboards, and manual takeoff methods are still commonly used when working with large construction projects.
However, at the time of the global COVID-19 pandemic, many professionals in the field were forced to make a shift towards digitalization to ensure the safety of their work and to boost productivity. This accelerated the adoption of new technology in the construction industry, including the use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools.
AI has the potential to revolutionize the way we plan, design, and build structures, making construction faster, safer, and more efficient.
With AI-powered tools and construction software, general contractors and estimators can:
Optimize construction processes
Automate routine tasks
Automatically identify potential safety hazards on job sites which helps reduce accidents
Free up time and focus on more complex and high-value tasks.
Market research by Mordor Intelligence shows that AI in the construction market could register a CAGR of 33.87% from 2022 - 2027. With this projected growth in the adoption of AI technologies, general contractors, and estimators must get ready to adapt to new technologies and processes to remain competitive.
There’s a steady increase in the use of the following tools:
It shows that AI is already transforming the industry. To explore and learn ways Artificial Intelligence is making construction faster, safer, and more efficient, keep reading.
1 - Building Information Modeling (BIM)
With BIM, it can be a time-consuming and complex process to generate construction documentation, which can be prone to errors and inconsistencies.
Benefits of Artificial Intelligence in BIM
AI-powered BIM tools can enhance designs, simplify the creation of construction documents, and identify and fix errors, saving time and money that would otherwise be spent on manual processes.
Consequently, contractors who use BIM tools with AI can improve their design processes, lower costs, and make workflows more efficient. They can also gain an edge over their competitors by completing projects faster and with fewer errors, leading to higher client satisfaction
Application of Artificial Intelligence in BIM
For example, BIM modeling software Bricsys uses AI to automate repetitive tasks within the design process. With BricsCAD’s 3D modeling engine, you can create any shape you can imagine in seconds. As shown in the picture below, its smart “Bimify” tool uses AI to assign classifications to the geometry in just one click.
AI can also help you find and duplicate different aspects of the design: what they are made of, their shapes and sizes, how high each floor is, and the features of windows and stairs. This way, you can make the design more detailed and realistic.
2 - Project Management
Managing construction projects can be complicated and time-consuming, with many variables to account for and risks to handle. AI can be used to analyze project data, spot potential risks, and offer insights for smarter decision-making by analyzing project data.
Benefits of Artificial Intelligence in Project Management
Here are some of the ways AI can contribute to project management:
Enhance the allocation of labor and materials which helps in managing resources more efficiently.
Make scheduling of construction tasks more efficient.
Analyze project data and provide insights for better decision-making.
Identify potential risks, and help manage resources more efficiently.
Enhance project outcomes and client satisfaction by improving collaboration and communication among stakeholders
Contractors can make their processes more efficient, allocate resources better, lower risks, and deliver projects faster and more accurately by using AI-powered project management tools.
Application of Artificial Intelligence in Project Management
Below are some of the applications of AI in construction project management.
3 - Site Planning and Management
Managers can have a hard time keeping track of progress and allocating resources efficiently in construction sites, which are complex environments with numerous moving parts. AI can help by automating routine tasks and providing real-time data analysis.
Benefits and Applications of Artificial Intelligence in Site Planning and Management
Some of the benefits AI offers for construction site planning include the following:
It’s now possible to autonomously scan a job site every night to monitor progress with an AI-powered robot such as Spot the Dog. This AI-powered technology can also inform project managers which job sites require additional labor, and which ones have enough workers.
Buildots is another tool that uses AI to analyze construction site data and determine completed work, pace and progress of tasks, and missing features.
Reduce Hazardous Site Visits
Reduce manual inspections and potentially hazardous site visits by using AI-powered drones and aerial imaging to inspect sites and monitor progress. Below is an example of a photo and data taken from a job site by an AI construction solution and drone, Skycatch.
AI can help to identify potential risks and suggest mitigation strategies. This can help to reduce the likelihood of delays, cost overruns, and other issues.
AI can be used to predict when building systems and components will require maintenance or replacement. This can reduce downtime and improve building performance.
4 - Construction Takeoff and Cost Estimation
The bottleneck in winning bids is often the slow takeoff process that can take weeks to complete. Manual takeoffs are also prone to human error which can negatively impact the accuracy of the cost estimates.
AI can help by automating repetitive tasks and completing takeoffs in under a minute with up to 98% accuracy.
Benefits of Artificial Intelligence in Construction Takeoff and Cost Estimation
Here’s how AI-powered takeoff solutions such as Togal.AI can empower general contractors and their team of estimators:
Automate up to 80% of the takeoff process, enabling estimators to prepare the proposal faster.
Submit more bids annually and increase the chances of winning more work.
Complete takeoffs in just under a minute with up to 98% accuracy
Increase profitability by participating in more bids annually
Automatically detect and measure elements such as walls, doors, windows, rooms, symbols, and more from PDF or CAD drawings without manual clicking or tracing.
Automatically label and classify the detected elements based on their geometry or textual description, saving time and reducing errors.
Leverage cloud-based collaboration to simultaneously work with multiple team members on any device, anytime and anywhere, as long as there’s internet access.
Reduce time spent on repetitive tasks and focus on value-generating activities such as scoping and value engineering.
To learn more about how Togal.AI works, watch the 57-second video below.
Application of Artificial Intelligence in Construction Takeoff and Cost Estimation
For example, Coastal Construction’s team of estimators used to spend over 20 hours a week on manual estimation. This includes manually tracing, clicking, and dragging lines on a set of plans to perform takeoff using on-premise software.
But with Togal.AI, their estimators saved a total of 14.5 hours per plan set with the use of automated takeoff, automated naming, automating sharing, uploading, and collaboration features. This eventually led to a total savings of 13, 920 hours per year. This enabled them to bid on and win more work which eventually led to 10 average bids per month. Ultimately, their first year of using Togal.AI brought a total of ~$1 million in first-year savings.
5 - Construction Safety Training and Monitoring
Construction work requires a ton of manual labor, the usage of dangerous equipment, and the operation of huge machinery. Thus, workers must be trained to operate safely in hazardous environments. Construction sites must also be closely monitored to ensure the safety of all workers.
AI-powered tools can offer virtual reality simulations and training for construction workers to reduce accidents on the job site. Furthermore, various AI-powered video analytics can now analyze site footage to determine potential hazards.
Benefits and Application of Artificial Intelligence in Construction Safety
With AI, construction workers can now benefit from:
1. Reduced number of workplace accidents
Often these accidents are due to inadequate training and unsafe work practices. AI can address them by providing realistic simulations of hazardous work environments to train workers.
For example, companies like Invonto developed Virtual Reality (VR) Applications to help with construction safety training. Their goal is to highlight the importance of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) when entering a live construction site.
2. Difficulty in Monitoring Complex Work Environments
For large and complex work environments, it can be challenging to identify potential hazards before they become a threat to construction workers. With AI, these issues can be mitigated quickly through:
Real-time site footage analysis
Alerts sent to managers regarding unsafe working conditions
Newmetrix is an example of AI that measures, predicts, and prevents safety incidents through AI. The picture below shows how this AI-powered tool can detect bad ergonomics. It can also detect slips, trips, and fall hazards.
6 - Quality Control
By using AI-powered cameras and sensors, quality issues can be detected and reported in real-time. AI algorithms can also find defects in materials and products used for construction.
Benefits of Artificial Intelligence in Quality Control
The construction industry often struggles with identifying and managing defects in materials and products. Here’s how AI can help solve these challenges:
Enable early detection and faster resolution of defects through real-time image and data analysis,
Ensure consistency and adherence to quality standards.
Improve safety and efficiency by detecting quality issues and hazards.
Application of Artificial Intelligence in Quality Control
Qii.ai is one example of an AI tool for finding and assessing infrastructure defects. With Qii, you can remotely inspect buildings and infrastructures as shown below.
Ready to Explore AI-Powered Takeoffs?
According to Peak’s Decision Intelligence Maturity Index, around 92% of construction companies reported that they intended to use AI in 2022. However, only 65% of their AI projects succeed, which was among the lowest percentage among the surveyed industries.
Understandably, some construction firms may be slow to adopt AI due to initial costs and resistance to change. But, being late to adopt could also mean losing out on competitiveness against those who are already streamlining their construction processes through AI.
The benefits of AI in construction are clear, from improving preconstruction speed and efficiency to enhancing worker safety. Those who are already leveraging AI, such as Togal.AI, are already seeing significant improvements in their workflows.
For instance, firms using Togal.AI for material takeoff are completing the task in under a minute, making them more competitive against those still relying on manual takeoffs. By incorporating AI into their operations, construction firms can gain a significant advantage in the marketplace, which is essential in today's competitive business environment.