Artificial Intelligence

This AI construction worker just figured out the fastest way to put up a building

Successful construction, for the most part, is about maintaining proper efficiency and productivity throughout the scope of a project.

Whether a firm has 20 ongoing development projects or one, they must finish them all on time — sometimes even to meet strict deadlines.

Designs and architectural plans help facilitate the development of a property and make sure everything and everyone involved are right where they need to be. But then there’s the planning phase, where one must consider their supply of resources, available manpower and equipment, as well as just how long the project should take.

Generally, administrative or project managers will flesh out this plan just before the operation begins.

It’s not that the process is particularly difficult, just tedious, as it requires managers to consider nearly every aspect of a project — including alternate methods and timelines in case something goes wrong.

What if there is a better way?

California-based Alice Technologies has created an AI system called ALICE that can plan proposed projects more effectively by coming up with a detailed schedule.

The system essentially digests a 3D model of the project in question, and will then provide steps for how to build the structure, complete with the order in which to place components and how much time it should take to do a particular step.

It can do this much faster than any human ever could — within mere minutes, a user can see the results — and much more effectively, as well.

In fact, the system can identify more precise and effective ways for development, some of which even seasoned project managers might have missed. And it’s all thanks to modern technology, in this case AI, which runs on machine learning algorithms, big data systems and lots of information.

It highlights how transformative AI and similar technologies will be for the construction industry. It hearkens back to that single question: What if there is a better way?

AI, the effective and modern Way

Artificial intelligence, in and of itself, is incredible. It was primarily born of the concept of automation or the idea to get things done faster, yet more effectively, with little to no input.

When a group adopts AI, they are essentially relinquishing control, in many ways, and allowing the resulting system to take the reins.

To some, this can be frightening. How in the world could anyone allow a computer or non-sentient system — driven by deep neural networks and pre-programmed algorithms — to do tasks for them, particularly things humans have done for hundreds of years?

Yet, AI is taking hold in many industries and fields today, in ways people never imagined. The health care industry is using it to solve mysterious and known ailments alike, using data analytics. Retailers use it to deliver highly targeted and personalized experiences to consumers.

It’s in our homes and mobile devices, powering virtual assistants who can react and interface with other technologies nearby. Even entertainment companies like Spotify and Netflix are using AI to build an accurate profile of our viewing habits and suggest better content.

AI is a modern, effective and reliable solution for automating and improving many tasks, processes and experiences.

Knowing this, why wouldn’t the construction industry take full advantage of its capabilities?

AI applications in construction

One of the most powerful applications of AI in construction and development is its integration with robust business management software. Such applications are comprehensive solutions for the planning, maintenance and management of a construction crew. It can generate checklists and workflow patterns, offer collaboration and communication tools and keep everything organized.

It helps facilitate the regular operation of a crew within the confines of a budget, available manpower and resources. AI can generate detailed reports, oversee operations and help improve efficiencies by eliminating operational bottlenecks. It can even deploy in a way that keeps everyone on track — including onsite crews — without external input.

Similarly, building information modeling (BIM) applications can also integrate with AI. They essentially offer digital blueprints or structure plans, in a real-time, shared information structure. Onsite workers might have the current BIM plans pulled up on a tablet or phone.

Simultaneously, project managers may have the BIM visible in their office, complete with up-to-date information on the status of the project, revisions and potential design hiccups.

But both these applications involve planning and design. AI can also improve worksite safety, automate equipment, hardware or tedious processes, predict potential issues or events and help with site surveys and property analysis.

It already is revolutionary for the world of construction and development.

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