Technology usually takes root in an industry when it’s driven by genuine need. As the construction industry grapples with the impacts of Covid-19, now more than ever the industry should consider alternatives to ensure continued growth and profitability.
Often, this means empowering workers to be as efficient as possible so that every hour they spend on a jobsite drives progress toward finishing the current job and setting up the next for success. It also means providing decision makers with the tools and information required to keep a project on track. Few technologies out there can promise a better grasp of key project data, actionable insights, and worker safety than artificial intelligence. It’s no surprise it’s experienced tremendous growth in construction in recent years.
In fact, the growth of AI in construction is still surging. MarketsandMarkets reports the AI market in construction is expected to triple by 2023, increasing from $407 million in 2018 to over $1.8 billion. This surge in momentum is driven by the arrival of better, more affordable AI solutions, a desire to lower costs, boost productivity, and improve safety.
Here’s a look at five AI solutions that are powering today’s construction industry.
Procore integration partner Indus.ai is a leading provider of AI construction intelligence services, monitoring tens of millions of square feet of active construction sites every day, and enabling companies to monitor and manage construction projects more efficiently.
It does this with a combination of AI, computer vision, and machine learning. Cameras mounted around a job site see everything that’s happening from watching progress to scanning for any safety concerns. The platform analyzes this data and presents its findings to project stakeholders.
For example, Indus.ai’s system can actively monitor all site activity, like trucks entering or leaving the job site. These activities are tracked to ensure materials orders are delivered on time, and if necessary, to help resolve disputes. The platform lets site managers keep an eye on a project’s progress and view detailed reports about bottlenecks, cost overages, or equipment issues. Rather than tying up a human worker to monitor everything, Indus.ai’s watchful eye continually scans the job site and alerts the right people with only relevant information.
A good AI solution gives construction firms a new perspective on their progress and challenges. It’s only natural to take advantage of cranes positioned high over a job site to get such insights. Versatile.ai uses a hardware and software solution called CraneView—a device loaded with cameras and sensors attached to the hook of a crane to provide better job site visibility in a number of ways.
The hardware measures data from the materials the crane lifts, without sacrificing its weight capacity. It can measure the weight, load, and motion of the materials while also monitoring the time spent rigging or unrigging.
The hardware is only part of the story, though. Using AI, CraneView can even determine precisely what material the crane is lifting. As the system collects data, it produces charts and graphs to help managers spot inefficiencies and address them.
Turner Construction Company is a construction giant that has used CraneView with success, including on a 378,000 square foot project for the U.S. Navy in San Diego. According to Construction Junkie, Turner was able to shave 17 days from the project schedule.
Getting a true 360-degree view of a project isn’t always possible, but Procore’s integration partner, OpenSpace, enables companies to do just that. OpenSpace’s ClearSight Production Tracking and Object Search turns 360-degree photos into actionable insights.
OpenSpace’s machine learning software analyzes millions of job site images to determine how a project is progressing. It then presents its findings visually in the form of a heat-map style overlay on a site plan to show how a room or building is changing as it comes together.
Object Search allows companies to scan job site photos for certain pieces of equipment quickly. The search is kicked off by drawing a border around a pictured object in the platform, and the system goes to work scanning its memory for other instances where that object has shown up during the project. When it presents its findings, users can “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” a picture to help the system learn and improve its functionality.
During the height of the pandemic, global construction slowed considerably. It was difficult to pin down how much it had slowed down, that is, until Procore integration partner OxBlue got involved. The construction camera services provider trained its network of cameras to function as an AI tool capable of monitoring job site activity in real time. From its findings, OxBlue created a color-coded map showing the areas of the country that had seen the biggest declines.
By leveraging construction site data, and scanning more than 150,000 job site images, OxBlue was able to give the clearest picture of the pandemic’s effect on the industry.
“It can tell us what things we detect, such as changes in people or equipment, and how those changes occur over time,” OxBlue CEO Chandler McCormack told Construction Dive. “Based on that we can determine a relative change in activity.”
OxBlue is an example of a company using its existing resources in a new manner. In this case, OxBlue’s nationwide network of cellular-connected job site cameras and AI processing power. It speaks to the flexibility of AI, and how the technology can transform and evolve on the fly.
Smartvid.io, a Procore partner, helps reduce project risk and improve worker safety with a user-friendly AI platform called Vinnie (Very Intelligent Neural Network for Insight and Evaluation). Looking at video footage, photos, and other data, Vinnie scans job site images for safety issues, such as a worker not wearing a hard hat, and reports such incidents to managers who can then intervene.
Vinnie is specifically trained to look for project risks around safety, productivity, and quality. Its recorded observations are viewable through a dashboard that ranks and categorizes risk types and severity levels.
For example, Vinnie can spot slip-and-fall hazards like an improperly placed ladder. It can also identify when workers aren’t complying with social distancing or not wearing facemasks. It monitors job site arrivals and departures so companies always know who’s on site. It even looks for defects during construction that might otherwise go unseen.