College of Contract Management United Kingdom
College of Contract Management
United Kingdom

AI in Construction - The CCM UK

ai construction jobs

The Use of Artificial Intelligence in Construction


There has been a recent increase in the amount of attention circulating around artificial intelligence (AI) of late. This is no doubt thanks to the like of ChatGPT and Bard, both Bing and Googles AI interfaces. The introduction of such programmes has had a huge impact on the digital world and now we are seeing a transfer into less technical industries. One frequently asked question is “how does affect me?” With that in mind, we wanted to take a look at the impact of AI in construction.


What is Artificial Intelligence?


The term artificial intelligence can be quite a difficult concept to grasp. For those who are less tech savvy than others, it can be a complex subject. John McCarthy was an American computer scientist and is often coined as one of the founding fathers of artificial intelligence. In 2007 he stated that AI is “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs.” To put it in somewhat simpler terms, it’s the use of an extensive background of past data to calculate answers to questions. By using previous data entries, AI is able to come to swift conclusions to multiple scenarios.

Despite its somewhat sudden boom in popularity, artificial intelligence has been around for longer than you may think. In fact, the concept of AI can even be dated as far back as the 1950’s. Arthur Samuel, first popularised the term “machine learning” and is well known in the computing industry for his work on computer checkers. The Samuel Checker-Playing Programme is, in fact, one of the first self-learning computer programmes in history.

Now we have a bit more of an understanding of what artificial intelligence is, let’s have a look at the application of AI in construction.


AI in Construction

To outsiders of the construction community, the use of AI in construction may seem a bit farfetched. It can be assumed that most would believe it is just use of robotics on site, yet this isn’t the case. For those who are more informed on the work that goes on behind the scenes in construction, understanding the use of AI can be highly beneficial.

Pre-Construction Stages

For those who are new to the industry, this stage is the multiple steps that take place before the physical work of the project can begin. There are multiple steps to this project, and each play a vital part in ensuring a project’s success.

AI can be of great help throughout the entirety of the preconstruction stages. From pre-design to the finalisation, AI can be used to help save both time and money. In fact, AI can provide tools and techniques that can improve efficiency and quality. Moreover, it can help streamline the process to automate repetitive tasks such as data entry. Finally, the use of artificial intelligence can also used analysed data to help identify risks, such as financial, market and environmental risks. Lets take a look at the bidding and negotiation stage as an example. This can, without technical assistance be a time consuming and stressful process. Through the use of AI, you can really streamline the process. AI has the ability to automate repetitive tasks and in doing so, improve the speed at which decisions are met. This can drastically improve a projects chance at meeting deadlines.

Further examples of AI in Pre-Construction

Another example of this is using machine learning in BIM and scheduling software. This software can automatically detect if delays were to occur, and catch many of the issues in planning and designing that humans would miss – or take longer to notice. There is also software that will detect the best ways to construct a building, based on previous data.

This machine-learning type of approach means that the workload on designers and others in construction jobs is reduced. One of these software options was developed by a company called ALICE. They created software that could quickly reschedule a project simply by asking ‘what if’ questions. For example, perhaps there is known to be a day when the team will be out of action. Well, the software will analyse a solution and find the best solution to any issues there may be.

All of these solutions can generate schedules, and determine solutions to problems, much faster than humans can.


The use of AI on construction sites


Health and Safety Solutions 

AI has also seen to be used to aid with better health and safety of workers on site. Drones have been used and other video devices to detect dangerous activity on site and ensure that everyone is kept safe throughout the site. This process, if used on a larger scale and on more construction sites, could help us with avoiding injuries, and even saving lives. AI could be capable of learning what unsafe behaviour is and alerting site supervisors.

Building Surveys and Maintenance Inspections

Drones can also be used for building surveying, to detect the condition of the property. This saves money and time due to not needing a building surveyor to investigate the whole site. It also ensures a safer working environment as workers will not have to use ladders etc.

Autonomous Vehicles

Vehicles are also being created that will do the building work for us. One of the companies creating these is Built Robotics. They have made the autonomous dozer, excavator, and CLT. All of these robots drive themselves and can be programmed to undertake specific construction tasks. They are said to reduce risks, and perform to the highest accuracy, with sensors to stop when something is in the way.


The Future of AI in Construction


What this means for construction jobs? Could this mean the end to needing workers on construction sites? Could all of our hard-working construction professionals be put out of a job? Well, these are concerns that are in circulation.

However, it is more likely for robots to be used for tasks that can be easily automated. It is less likely to be used for those jobs which require human interactions. Many of those who create these AI solutions state that they are not there to replace humans – but rather help them. The aim is not to replace perfectly capable and highly experienced construction workers, not to mention that many robots are not capable of doing some tasks. Humans are always going to be needed on a construction site.

For those of you that are worried about the future of construction jobs, maybe there is less to worry about when you think that their purpose is primarily to make construction processes easier, more accurate and less likely to have human errors.

Now is actually a really great time to get into the construction industry, especially if you like AI too. You may have a part to play in implementing new AI solutions to help construction projects be the best they can.