How Artificial Intelligence Can Aid the Construction Industry

How Artificial Intelligence Can Aid the Construction Industry

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has seamlessly woven itself into the fabric of our daily life for years. And contrary to the apocalyptic scenarios of AI portrayed in popular fiction, current AI technologies such as Apple’s Siri and OpenAI’s ChatGPT are based on established machine learning models requiring continuous input from data scientists – meaning we’re still at least a few years away from robots taking over the world.

In the realm of construction, AI plays a pivotal role in enhancing project management, Operations & Maintenance (O&M), and safety protocols.

Boston, Massachusetts-based construction company Suffolk was recently featured in a Business Insider series exploring how AI is being used across different industries. In 2017, Suffolk appointed its first chief data officer, Jit Kee Chin, and invested in construction startups and used its own jobsites to test out potential solutions to safety-related problems.

Suffolk worked with NewMetrix, a startup based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to develop a safety-solution-leveraging AI to digitize the process of safety observations and incident data gathering.

“The shift from manual and analogue to digital enabled us to collect data, and that’s the most important piece of all of this,” Suffolk’s National Director of Operational Excellence, Kelsey Gauger, told Business Insider. “It plays into our data strategy.”

NewMetrix then developed a predictive model that leverages AI to assign risk ratings to Suffolk job sites and predict the likelihood of an incident occurring on them. The model’s findings led Suffolk to change their key performance indicator (KPI) for jobsite safety: from a target of reducing the total number of on-site incidents to the number of safety observations carried out per workforce hours accumulated.

Suffolk saw a 25% improvement rate in their total recordable incident rates in the fiscal year following the implementation of this data-driven strategy. NewMetrix’s machine-learning model now accounts for 40 different factors correlated with safety outcomes on Suffolk job sites.

“One of the things that we’ve been able to do is actually flag at-risk projects, in addition to driving safety observations, so we can actually plug into that model all of this information and it can tell us ‘Here are the three jobs in your portfolio that are the most at risk,’” Gauger said.

Job Security

AI isn’t going to take over the world tomorrow, but many employees are concerned that it’s going to take their jobs away.

ResumeBuilder recently surveyed 750 business leaders at companies that currently use or plan to use AI in 2024:

  • 53% of the companies surveyed use AI, and 24% plan to start in 2024
  • 37% of the companies using AI say the technology replaced workers in 2023
  • 44% of companies surveyed say AI will lead to layoffs in 2024
  • 96% of companies hiring in 2024 say candidates will benefit from having AI skills
  • 83% say AI skill will help current employees retain their jobs

AI can’t steal jobs that were already open.

There were 413,000 open construction jobs on the last day of January 2024. That’s more unfilled positions than the same time in 2023, and near the record 454,000 vacancies that existed the previous November, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Henning Roedel, robotics lead for the innovation team at Redwood City, California-based DPR Construction, told Construction Dive in an article published last May that, “We don’t think about how to reduce our staff size, because we have enough backlog and work ahead of us that we need more people.”

“You need to flip the displacement question around because we currently don’t have enough people in our industry to meet the construction needs of society as it is,” Roedel continued.

While it’s not likely to replace a workforce anytime soon, AI does face other challenges as its champions look to integrate it into the construction industry. Many of these concerns aren’t industry-specific; questions about data privacy and technology cost arise no matter which sector is looking to introduce AI-driven solutions to its problems.

“Despite these challenges, the potential of AI in construction is immense,” American Management Services, Inc.’s Louis Mosca wrote last year in an article in Forbes Magazine. “As technology continues to evolve, we can only imagine how much more it could reshape the industry.”

Producers of AI-driven tools for the construction industry believe they are doing what has always been done: innovate to increase productivity, efficiency, and accuracy.

GPRS Combines AI with Field-Verified Data

GPRS utilizes artificial intelligence in conjunction with field-verified data to create accurate digital maps and models for use in AEC industries. While we believe in embracing innovative technologies, we complement those tools with our highly trained field staff and in-house Mapping and Modeling Department.

“At GPRS, the Mapping and Modeling Department creates accurate 3D tours, as-builts, intelligent 3D building information modeling (BIM) models, and geolocated utility maps that can be used in (conjunction with) AI to help project planning, design coordination, and project execution,” explained GPRS Mapping and Modeling Manager, Michelle Colella. “GPRS’ Mapping and Modeling Department uses AI natively in most of our work to automatically extract features and lines in a utility map, to analyze concrete reinforcement as-built, to quickly extract 3D modeled elements in a point cloud from laser scanning, and even to classify point clouds into their different functional elements like walls and floors.”

“All of the digital drawings and models we build can be used in AI-driven construction activities like clash detection, digital twins, or functional analysis of a structure, site plan, or mechanical system,” Colella concluded.

From skyscrapers to sewer lines, GPRS Intelligently Visualizes the Built World® to keep your projects on time, on budget, and safe.

What can we help you visualize? Click below to schedule a service or request a quote today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is BIM?

BIM stands for Building Information Modeling and is more than just a 3D model. 3D BIM scanning gives engineers the ability to manage the building data throughout its lifecycle, providing accurate spatial relationships and manufacturer details as well as geographic information and other pertinent aspects of the building.

What is As-Built Documentation?

As-built 3D documentation is an accurate set of drawings for a project. They reflect all changes made during the construction process and show the exact dimensions, geometry, and location of all elements of the work.