As the world topples with the pandemic with a burgeoning economic cost, humanity will have an inevitable choice to strive for innovation and embrace technology. This presents an opportunity for businesses to introspect, reorient and reshape their structure and find balance in this new hybrid world. Every sector, including construction, is looking for a swift digital transformation, now that advanced technologies are expected to make major breakthroughs.
Tech Challenges and Opportunities in Construction
For the longest time, the world has been working from home in a hybrid workplace ecosystem. This was atypical for most Engineering, Construction & Infrastructure enterprises (EC&O), especially in developing countries, but has transitioned quite well in today’s times. This has resulted in top leadership to readjust their lens and reduce dependency on physical proximity where they can. It will also result in reshuffling of old job portfolios, digital automation of routine tasks and the addition of more telecommuting opportunities.
The work at home module brings its own set of limitations including behavioural science and infrastructure limitations. These challenges can be duly addressed by training and rewriting guidelines, functional connections require a policy framework and investments in sustainability. Other major challenges include external limitation of supply chains, lack of skilled labour and plummeting demands and more.
As businesses struggle to move forward, the digital-based economy is providing the necessary space to breathe. Technologies like automation, robotics and IoT are ensuring uninterrupted construction cycles and safety for people involved in the process. There is a strong sentiment that increasing the scope of digitization across all stages of infrastructure development – from design and planning to engineering and onsite work – will be instrumental in overcoming the slump most construction players are experiencing today.
Developers who have already jumped on the digitization bandwagon are having it easier and reaping the rewards of stability and continuity in this time of relatively low economic activity.
How AI is adding value to Construction
Construction enterprises have been finding immense value with AI and cognitive technologies to automate many routine yet essential tasks to running their operations. AI is empowering them to automate scheduling related tasks to prevent delays, active conflict resolution, and other issues. It is also helping in optimizing work schedules to enhance workplace safety and keep a secure watch on construction facilities.
Large scale, multi-year projects are benefiting more as they require seamless coordination of many complicated tasks and moving parts such as blueprints and designs, permits, and unexpected delays and changes that quickly get out of hand for humans to cope without the assistance of technology.
Employing advanced data intelligence and surveillance
Increasing adoption of modernized enterprise technologies and equipment are introducing various sensors to gather data and real-time insights. These sensors can monitor a diversity of aspects relevant to the construction machinery and human resources such as temperature monitoring, engine condition, work time and material application.
Combined with AI to intelligently monitor construction sites, these solutions can analyze data in real-time and predict with a high degree of certainty what anomalies, problems, delays, or malfunctions might occur. This predictive maintenance can help prevent costly delays and process downtime.
Effective AI-enabled surveillance systems are also paving the way for more transparency and security on construction sites. Accurate geo-sensing of construction equipment prompts effective analytics such as real-time movement and run-time alerts. It offers an additional layer of security for construction equipment against theft and misuse.
AI has widened the scope of capabilities, transparency and advanced analytics for the construction world. Hence, it’s no surprise that construction players are keen on adopting various AI-powered technologies for different aspects of development. The benefits that AI can unleash are still relatively nascent, however, in the coming years, it is positive that AI will continue to drive cost savings, time savings, and overall improvements and efficiencies to the construction world.
(The author Ashok Wani, Head – Technology & Innovation Highbar Technocrat Limited and the views expressed in this article are his own)