In the Spring of 2018, McKinsey published an article entitled “Artificial intelligence: Construction technology’s next frontier” that predicted a modest increase in AI (artificial intelligence) to proliferate the E&C (engineering and construction) sector in the immediate future, “… despite proven high return on investment (ROI) and widespread management interest in AI solutions.” The article added, “However, a shift is coming. Stakeholders across the project life cycle—including contractors, operators, owners, and service providers—can no longer afford to conceive of AI as technology that’s pertinent only to other industries.”
So, it seems the growth of AI in construction that McKinsey predicted back in 2018, and that Mordor projects, will still happen.
And it should. AI can positively impact the construction industry in multiple ways, from preconstruction to after a project is completed.
Let’s take a closer look at some specific areas in the ACE (architectural construction and engineering) industry that can be positively impacted by AI.
Construction is a challenging industry. From working in the elements to the potential dangers of a construction site, workers are challenged.
According to a report from business insurance analysis firm AdvisorSmith that was reported by Construction Dive, based on the rate of people who die at work, the construction industry includes 12 of the 25 most dangerous jobs.
“AI-supported cameras provide real-time footage while also gathering and analyzing all inbound data concerning the job site. From the materials to the vehicles to the workers, everything on a job site is accounted for in real-time.” The footage and data can be analyzed, and insights gleaned, so “construction managers can be proactive to better understand where to focus their planning, training, and instruction when they do their safety walk.
If workers are made aware of potential hazards, they can be more careful when working in flagged locations, dealing with flagged materials, etc.
Besides increasing awareness, the information gleaned from footage can be used to determine how to set up or organize a construction site. Perhaps building components can be arranged more efficiently to reduce potential safety hazards.
AI can lead to safety enhancements on a construction site. And an increase in safety has many positives – first and foremost that employees stay healthy.
Let’s be blunt. The construction industry has a pathetic track record when it comes to keeping projects on budget. 85% of completed construction projects in 20 countries over a 70-year period experienced a cost overrun, with an average overrun of 28% according to Propeller Aero, a 3D mapping and data analytics software company.
AI can help with cost estimation. Let’s rewind and review how AI works. sas, a business analytics software and services vendor in the business intelligence market, gives this definition: “AI works by combining large amounts of data with fast, iterative processing and intelligent algorithms, allowing the software to learn automatically from patterns or features in the data. The process requires multiple passes at the data to find connections and derive meaning from undefined data. Artificial intelligence (AI) makes it possible for machines to learn from experience.”
A logical question may follow: how can the learning happen if so many projects go over budget? First, some projects do come in on budget. Second, you can learn from your mistakes.
With AI, AEC firms can develop a cost estimate that is more in line with the final cost, allowing the industry to shed its poor history of going over budget. By learning about past projects both successful and less so, AI can help produce a cost estimate or estimates for a project that AEC firms can use, allowing them to make an appropriate bid on a project while keeping the firm’s profits at satisfactory levels.
Focusing on good communication in the workplace is vitally important. Yet Gallup found “only 13% of the nearly 31 million employees surveyed said their leaders practice and cultivate effective workplace communication.”
Project management software company ProofHub reported on a survey of, 400 corporations with 100,000 plus employees in the U.S. and U.K. Based on the results, the surveyors “estimated that communication barriers cost the average organization $62.4 million per year in lost productivity.”
Other back-office responsibilities related to accounting can also be accomplished with AI with similar benefits as those noted above. Typical crunch times can be eased, and monotonous work can be minimized or even eliminated. With this cleared away, enhanced communication between employees can occur.
By giving employees more time to communicate, AEC firms can boost their business in multiple ways. AI fosters communication while improving the bottom line.
Many people love to watch or listen to post-game analysis, when experts break down why things played out as they did. As interesting as this may be, it’s not at all beneficial because it’s impossible to influence a game already played. However, sensing what’s happening while it is occurring is priceless, as it can impact the final outcome.
AI can provide in-game analysis that can lead to enacting changes on an ongoing project, in order to secure a profit for those involved in the project. Insights can be found in the data. Yet, reams and reams of data don’t make a bit of difference unless they have been analyzed. This time-consuming monotonous task is best handled by AI, which can review the data for anomalies.
The multiple benefits of AI for the AEC industry are clear. Ultimately AI empowers construction companies to improve their bottom line.
Briq, a corporate performance management (CPM) platform built specifically for construction financial professionals, is a leader in AI. The company handles nearly everything construction finance, unifying a firm’s financial workflows, making them more efficient, accurate and timely. Briq empowers construction firms to make efficient and effective financial decisions.
With insights gained from Briq and AI, construction firms can increase their return on profit.
If you’d like to read our full eBook on AI in construction, you can find it here.
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