Artificial Intelligence on a construction site is no longer the realm of sci-fi, it is already operational and helping to make contracts more profitable. AI is more than just robotics, in fact, although it’s the most commonly referenced technology, AI robotics is one of the least effective tools that construction leaders could use on site today.
In its Sustaining the Infrastructure Industry report, the Australian Constructors Association states: in a world of limited means and potentially unlimited wants it is vital that infrastructure is planned, procured, and delivered as productively as possible.
Embracing new technology is key to increasing this productivity.
As Australia recovers from the unprecedented period of uncertainty, the construction sector has been buoyed by funding from the recent Federal and State governments, yet long-term delivery of these projects will see an evolution of the industry as it begins to fully embrace technology.
Here are five examples of how change is already happening to cut down the margins:
AI assistant to improve project management
Contrary to many beliefs, AI led technology is not about replacing workers, instead it is about making their jobs more effective and productive from the field to the head office.
The construction industry is the third largest employer in Australia and represents about 9% of the country’s GDP. AI will only serve to bolster this statistic.
ASX50 company Downer simplified work, saved time, improved the way that their infrastructure projects are run and increased profitability using an intelligent, professional AI assistant for Supervisors and Engineers.
This was not to replace these roles, but to make them more effective today and for the future.
Likewise, utilising AI in construction isn’t just about profitability, though this is a byproduct, it is about creating new and better ways for field workers, project managers and head office to work together across large scale infrastructure projects.
These will be essential in the coming years and adopting AI led processes will help with efficiency across projects and ultimately save money.
Safety and compliance
SafetyCulture is one of the fastest growing companies in Australia providing a tech based solution for work health and safety. Its products are simple. Automating and improving safety and compliance processes for construction sites.
These simple documents made a manual and time consuming process easier. In a crucial area, these are things that will impact workers directly making the site safer, and practically saving time and money on overall project costs.
Increasing claims on site
Another manual process that is being automated by technology is in the area of claims.
AI can now harness the data available on site to start to flag where and when claims need to be made.
Breaking down the silos
Although an important connection, field workers, site managers and head office often seem to be speaking a different language when it comes to project management.
These silos create ongoing issues in terms of claims (as above), site productivity and more. Integrated cloud based construction management software is going some way to connecting the dots. But there is more intuitive data, and potential in analysing things like language needed to truly break down the silos. Watch this space for where AI will take construction next.
Improve field productivity
Working globally Oceana Gold realised it was losing productivity in day-to-day site management processes.
The solution? Removing the need for a computer through an AI-powered natural language interface. In simple terms this product removed the need to keep Oceana Gold’s people connected to disparate but important IT systems and in effect removed the need for a computer.
Kerrie Barker, Oceana Gold said: “The solution is to remove the need for a computer by eliminating the multiple application interfaces and create a single interface that is accessible from anywhere, not just onsite, but anywhere in the world. We noted significant improvements in streamlining work processes. In one case, we saw a time reduction from 2 minutes and 30 seconds to complete a task to only 37 seconds.”
The Australian Constructors Association report concludes that the key risks to industry sustainability – and value for money for infrastructure procurers – are linked in that they have been driven “primarily by poor productivity outcomes in infrastructure delivery over several decades”.
As outlined above, there are already many ways technology can not only change the way construction works, but increase the margins at the same time.