The case for AI in construction – key players and benefits


“AI can become a powerful tool in helping the construction sector” – leading expert in AI and construction. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in construction represents a serious challenge for industry leaders in managing step-change to increase long-term efficiency while remaining competitive in the near term. 

And yet AI adoption among companies is slow going, with firms routinely relying instead on manual processes where AI integration could unlock lasting potential.    

In the manufacturing industry, for example, notable gains in safety, sustainability, productivity, lead times, and costs have resulted from progressive attitudes to the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0).  

In this SPECIAL REPORT, we explore real-world use cases of AI by construction firms at live sites, to demonstrate where its implementation and integration can reward supply chain management, project planning, scheduling, and risk management. 

Key players in construction AI 

  • Autodesk 
  • IBM  
  • Microsoft  
  • Oracle  
  • SAP  
  • Aurora  
  • Building System Planning  
  • Dassault  

Others like Bentley Systems, Darktrace, Renoworks Software, and Alice Technologies also rank high. 

On site application 

The industry already benefits in lots of ways from AI, particularly during the preconstruction phase for planning and design, by using advanced Building Information Modelling (BIM) and generative design capabilities.  

Other significant benefits from using AI on site include real-time alerts about design defects, and safety and productivity issues, by monitoring interactions between objects, workers, and machines.  

Major costs can be avoided by using AI to identify potential errors and defects during the critical planning and design stage, which in turn liberates budgets and minimises delays.  

AI also eliminates project reworks by paper, which is difficult to update and where an estimated 35% of design teams are thought to be in conflict over flaws and edits.  

“BIM may increase efficiency and reduce costs during a building project’s planning, design, and construction phases. Users can create 3D internal structures and building components […] and link schedule-related data to specific 3D model elements,” said technology research firm, Vantage Market Research.  

Health & Safety 

Injuries and fatalities from falls, falling equipment and materials, safety flaws, strain and other mishaps on site are not uncommon, and as projects become more complex, Health & Safety (H&S) challenges will also increase. 

On site worker harms can be countered and even prevented by predictive maintenance and enhanced visibility from AI. 

Project managers can observe and analyse activities in real time via AI-enabled cameras and robotics, to reduce unanticipated accidents and incidents. 

AI can also help workers carry out duties more safely – for example, teaching bricklayers advanced techniques to prevent joint burdens.  

The UK sector needs 225,000 extra workers by 2027. Further, wage costs are soaring in mature economies due to the skills shortage, alongside building expenses which are expected to rise this year, according to Atradius 

Estimating, programme creation, resourcing, and risk management, are areas where automation can counter the skills shortage. 

In extreme cases, inefficiencies could lead to fines for contractual noncompliance. 

Overrun costs  

Realistic schedules for projects can be better calculated and less costly, by AI using predictive models of historical data from previous schemes. Variables like contract type, project size, and project administrator competency help to predict cost overruns. 

In turn, project managers can more accurately plot timelines and estimate original cost and budget constraints. 

AI can also improve worker knowledge and skills via access to real-time training materials and data. 

“Increasing demand to reduce production costs is driving the market. Equipment and machinery costs may be among the highest for any construction endeavour,” said Vantage Market Research. 

AI integration 

Real-time data synthesis, analysis, conversion, and dissemination bridges the IT-business divide in construction.  

Construction firms need AI platforms to integrate corporate systems with web and cloud-based solutions on site. 

Various data categories, like site surveys and sales data, can be better investigated and analysed by AI, leading to more informed decisions by managers. 

“These factors are anticipated to increase the demand for AI in the construction industry in the coming years,” added Vantage Market Research. 

Cloud-based solutions are considered a “more affordable deployment method” for firms, owing to its scalability and adaptability advantages on major projects. There are also no setup fees for cloud-based solutions, and they can be adjusted to each project. 

Wider market value 

In 2022, the AI in construction market was valued at USD$594.6 million. By 2030, it is projected to reach USD$4,909.7 million, with a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 35.2%. However, the Asia Pacific region is expected to have the largest CAGR in the coming years. 

Around 37% of companies from various sectors were shown to be using AI for a variety of purposes in 2019, however a recent investment boom means this figure is certain to rise in the future, according to proptech investor and construction expert, Angelica Krystle Donati 

AI subfields include machine learning, natural language processing, robotics, computer vision, optimisation, automated planning, and scheduling. 

“AI can contribute to this change by improving the design process,” wrote Donati. “It can be used to generate optimal designs that are both efficient and cost-effective; it can analyse data from previous projects and create a design that is tailored to the specific needs of a project. This improved design process can result in buildings and infrastructure that use less energy and materials, thus with a lower cost base.” 

Adding: “AI can become a powerful tool in helping the construction sector work towards a greener future. By improving the design process, monitoring energy consumption, and reducing waste, construction companies can reduce costs and improve their environmental footprint.” 

Article sources: Vantage Market Research; Digital Journal: Artificial Intelligence in Construction Market 2023. 

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