Artificial Intelligence in Construction Engineering

artificial intelligence in construction engineering

Why applying artificial intelligence in construction engineering will change everything


You may be familiar with the concept of artificial intelligence and how recently it is being added to many different sectors. Whether it be companies, smaller businesses, homes, and many more, AIs are being added wherever possible. Nonetheless, another important field that has not resisted the insertion of artificial intelligence is civil engineering. Seeing how the industry is one of the few that has gone unchanged for more than a century, what use can AI be to brick laying or cement pouring? Can artificial intelligence in construction even be a thing?

Actually, it turns out that artifical intelligence in construction engineering has many applications. According to the consulting company McKinsey & Company, there is a positive outlook on the integration of the two fields. Although the engineering and construction (E&C) field is behind in respect to other sectors, as the industry is only investing a 1% into technology, numbers show a positive shift in things. And seeing how the engineering and construction fields are estimated at more than $10 trillion in worth, investing correctly is pretty important.

Artificial Intelligence in Construction Engineering

According to the report, it was shown that companies already using AIs are 50% more likely to receive profit than the companies without. And in case you were wondering, artificial intelligence in this case does not mean robots pouring cement or driving around the construction sight, but rather present through algorithms and such. In fact, with the artificial intelligence included, time and money are saved thanks to the algorithms that help the company better its productivity and efficiency, and also in foreseeing, and subsequently overcoming possible challenges.

5 ways to use AI in Construction Engineering

artificial intelligence in construction engineering

So specifically, what can AIs actually bring to construction sites? McKinsey reports that there are five ways in which builders and engineers can work with artificial intelligence.

Reinforcement learning is the first way, and is when AI uses an algorithm for a trial and error course in order to understand the better way of doing something. For example, it can be applied to the planning and scheduling part of the job, and/or to the logistics and transport side as well. The second application that follows is predictive application, that could greatly help forecast project risks as well as analyze the stability and viability of the solutions presented. The third tool AI can help with, is supervised learning applications for modularisation and prefabrication. In this case, AI would aid engineers in keeping track of the supply chain coordination and general cash flows. Second to last is machine learning, which involves robotic arms that learn, and then emulate from simulations, so that they can focus on prefabricating materials and/or do maintenance. And last but not least, there is image recognition tool. The application can be used with drones, and serves to aid quality control thanks to the three-dimensional imagery that it provides. With the images, engineers will be able to see the final products and compare them to their original designs. Furthermore, the images may also be able to help detect possible safety risks in construction sites, thanks to an algorithm able to detect unsafe behaviors.

Building Information Modeling

If these 5 applications weren’t enough, artificial intelligence can also help improve Building Information Modeling (also known as BIM). BIM is in fact the digital process that oversees a project and all of the different parts to it. McKinsey states that thanks to data collected by drones, and images collected through lasers, artificial intelligence will be able to compare the information to the one collected by the BIM. Through the report McKinsey says that the shift is possible, but that it will be slow. Before including the AI in their workforce, companies will have to gather their data and see if the match between artificial intelligence and their respective company works. This means that the companies have to digitize their information and invest in data collecting, processing, a cloud infrastructure and advanced analytics before considering an artificial intelligence addition.

The Future of AI in Construction Engineering

And although the road seems long and difficult for E&C, there is hope at the end of the tunnel. With the many different application examples that AI would bring to construction sites, the switch should be an automatic solution for many companies. The digital age is not an easy one to get familiar with, but each sector will have to make peace with it sooner or later; the construction and engineering one too. Robots are not what is meant with artificial intelligence, but rather algorithms and analysis that can help better projects and identify the weak spots that perhaps would previously have been spotted too late into the construction. And what about the companies that have already made the technological advancement? They are all showing positive results, so why keep waiting for the inevitable?