There’s a well documented housing crisis in the UK, and demand for all other forms of construction is high. However, there’s also pressure for this sector to manage costs more carefully, adhere to environmental standards and create higher quality, safer buildings as quickly as possible.
It’s a tall order.
Fortunately, emerging technology is providing solutions.
Though the construction trade is not among the frontrunners in utilising the latest concepts, equipment and software, it’s certainly going in the right direction. Particularly developments that hinge on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Business Information Modelling
As with other sectors of business, the construction trade is seeking ways to do things faster and leaner. This largely relies on automating as much as possible and interrogating large amounts of data to create greater transparency and control.
Sophisticated AI programmes can use detailed construction data for Business Information Modelling. This creates 2D drawings and 3D models that have transformed construction design, planning and delivery.
The digital content created by BIM is instantly shareable in real time, at any location. This brings with it improved collaboration and control. Much more can be achieved remotely, without site visits.
It’s possible to use AI and BIM to “rehearse” the building process, from end to end, too. The layout of the terrain and access points can be mapped and explored, to maximise how much construction can be achieved safely and to the best effect. The different disciplines – architecture, structural engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and plumbing (MEP) – can be mapped and instructed in a far more intuitive and co-ordinated way. Deliveries can be timetabled more effectively.
BIM is not just a way to improve scheduling and accuracy for construction projects though. It brings key safety benefits. For example, hazardous elements of construction can be “rehearsed” and planned with greater assurance using the 3D modelling process
This is all likely to evolve into something even more sophisticated, as Virtual and Augmented Reality become widely used. For example, you could use VR to train and educate a team off-site (anywhere in the world) to carry out challenging construction projects far more safely and efficiently when they get to their location.
AI is also behind new equipment used on building sites to carry out the more repetitive work – leaving staff to focus on skilled construction tasks. There are even highly technical robotic machines in development, to take over roles that currently suffer from a shortage of skilled recruits.
There is also increasing use of autonomous vehicles on building sites.
It could be argued that using “driverless technology” in cars on public roads is fraught with problems. However, having autonomous vehicles operating in a controlled environment – such as a construction site – makes a great deal of sense.
Nor does this have to be entirely land based. Drones are increasingly used for commercial purposes, including mapping and measuring or carrying weights up to 15kg. Especially on challenging terrain or over obstacles of some kind.
Monitoring and Maintenance
If nothing else, the “ever-learning technology” that AI brings to the construction trade provides more opportunity to measure building sites from start to finish, and over the fourth dimension (time). For example, sophisticated equipment can monitor the environment on every level, from the air quality to temperature fluctuations across the site, right down to the seismic activity. It can then make predictions.
If Artificial Intelligence in construction must be summed up in one word, it’s control. And this is likely to increase massively as technology advances.
Lydon Contracting Ltd
Your Total Construction Solution
Tel: 01327 811533