Automation in the Construction Industry
April 23, 2018
While the construction industry continues to grow, so does its appetite for technology. As one of the last adopters of using artificial intelligence technology, we have nowhere to go but up, which has led to considerable investments in startups and technology firms in our industry. Many of these tech companies have focused on the ability to automate traditionally paper and labor-intensive tasks to reduce the amount of processing and handling that is a priority at the job site.
Using Computing Power to Our Benefit
If there is one thing we know about computers is that they love repetitive tasks. While continually crunching through numbers to perform design calculations or pouring over binders of project specifications to extract key project submittals is tedious work for a project engineer it is just the type of work where computers thrive. Why have we not taken advantage of this sooner? We weren’t ready to teach the systems what they needed to learn because we didn’t have enough data.
With more construction firms digitizing their workflows this provided the industry enough information to teach machines how to perform the task necessary. Now computers can learn to think like project managers do and perform repetitive tasks that are time-consuming for the project team. With less and less youth going into the construction industry we need to be able to support the existing industry professionals and keep up with the growing amount of work.
Time Savings with Machine Learning
Why should automation be so essential to project teams? Teams often spend painstaking ours collecting, organizing and analyzing data on the job site, let’s look at a few examples.
At Pype we address the creation of submittal registers from project specifications. This task traditionally took a project engineer between 2-4 days depending on the size of the project and that is if that was the only thing they had to do. We think that time could be better spent elsewhere like reviewing drawings and writing subcontracts, so we created a program how to do this task for you in less than five minutes. It isn’t just for tech geeks either. Ask some of the project engineers at McCarthy, mentioned in the Tech Report 5.0: AI Arrives article on BD+C. One was converted from a “technology hater” once he saw how much time technology such as Pype could save him. There are likely much better uses of your time than reviewing specifications, even if you’re the most efficient PE in history.
Other firms have addressed automation in a different way such as design coordination. ClashMEP has addressed an already technical process of running clash detection on design models and automated that process to provide feedback in real time. Instead of having to run interference checks in a separate platform manually, ClashMEP provides real-time feedback as the design is in process. Eliminating the need to go back and do rework.
Automating Processes for Streamlined Workflow
While automation will not be the solution to all of our problems, eliminating repetitive tasks on the design, in construction, or on the fabrication side will be critical to keep up with the growing construction demand. There are tremendous opportunities to leverage both machine learning and artificial intelligence in these automation processes as well allowing for more efficient and effective solutions to be identified. With more and more investment coming into the construction technology space we believe that there are a lot of great things to come. Letting us get back to what we all came to this industry to be, builders.