Though in the nascent stages of adoption, the increasing use of Artificial Intelligence is indicative of a tech-enabled construction industry. From managing complex scheduling problems to running predictive what-if scenarios, the AI is rapidly making inroads into building and construction practices.

Construction activities are as old as the human civilisation itself. With the evolution of human society, the techniques, design and execution of building construction projects have also evolved. Although technology has been helping the construction industry to make jobs more efficient and projects safer, the increasing use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is making construction more structured and organised. From optimising work schedules to improving workplace safety to keeping a close watch on construction facilities, the AI is increasingly making strides into the construction domain.

Expressing his insights over the use of AI in construction and real estate, Dhiraj Jain, Director, Mahagun Group, says, “Although the pace of AI adoption is slow in Indian real estate and construction scenario, it is certainly the future of construction techniques. In a scenario when the profit margins are falling, and cost-cutting is imperative, use of AI-enabled robots, automatic load-bearing machines and drones can help reduce the dependence on human intervention. Real estate developers and construction managers have started making use of intelligent data-backed cameras for better project monitoring. The increasing use of technology will bring down costs and will help real estate developers in on-time project deliveries.”

How is AI helping construction managers?

Artificial Intelligence is increasingly penetrating into the planning, scheduling and conflict management domains of construction projects. Broadly, AI is helping in the following areas-

Scheduling

Construction managers are increasingly finding AI useful in automating several mundane yet important tasks for running their operations. The project managers are taking the help of the AI in scheduling related tasks, preventing conflicts and delays and other issues. For small construction projects, complicated construction schedules and processes can be handled manually. However, for large scale projects spanning years and costing billions, AI comes in handy for the coordination of complicated tasks and management as well as the prevention of unexpected and costly delays.

Pattern detection

Machine learning is excellent at pattern detection. The same pattern detection software that is in use for scheduling can be used to detect patterns and common trends in the project. Many construction managers use AI for running what-if scenarios and contingency planning. The AI is able to extrapolate what might happen if a permit is delayed or an incident happens, in multiple scenarios. This forecasting exercise helps projects ensure that proper emergency plans are in place to deal with unexpected situations.

Autonomous vehicles

Construction managers are making extensive use of autonomous vehicles for easing various processes of the construction lifecycle. The use of drones, robotic arms, autonomous devices, and driverless lifters has been on the rise worldwide. While Drones are helping in surveying and taking overhead images for assessing various stages of construction, robots are helping in bricklaying, installing drywall and pouring concrete. The robotic intervention is also helping the human workforce on sites and reducing labour costs as well as delays.

Predictive intelligence

Modern machines and equipment are increasingly using sensors to help the overall functioning of the machinery. These sensors are used for monitoring temperature, engine conditions and application of materials. These traditional sensors are combined with AI to intelligently monitor and analyse the data in real-time. These empowered sensors backed by AI can predict, with the highest degree of certainty, the malfunctions, delays and upcoming problems.

Some of the common AI-enabled gadgets are intelligent cameras, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, close monitoring sensors, facial recognition systems, object recognition devices, drones, robotic arms, intelligent alarms and pattern recognition systems.

Conclusively, the use of AI is extensively useful in monitoring tools and equipment, scheduling, preventing delays and cutting costs. However, the adoption rate is low, and the use of AI in construction is in nascent stages. Moreover, the construction firms are still hesitant in making use of construction software as a paid tool. The impediment of trained construction workers and operators is also a challenge. The Government would do well to devise AI training programs, operators certifications and industry-academia collaboration so that theoretical models can be applied to solve complex onsite challenges.