In spite of recovering major ground after the Great Recession, the construction industry is still facing troubling skilled labor shortages, with a lack of qualified candidates stepping up to take over the positions once held by industry veterans nearing retirement age. The construction industry lost 2.3 million jobs between 2006-2011, and today there are a million fewer residential construction jobs than before 2006, according to Tradesmen International. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey shows nearly 200,000 unfilled construction industry jobs nationwide. This gap between available positions and skilled workers ready to fill them puts added pressure on developers, contractors and owners. Even in the face of a worker shortage, construction is booming.
The global construction industry has grown by only one per cent per year over the past few decades. Compare this with a growth rate of 3.6% in manufacturing, and 2.8% for the whole world economy. Productivity, or the total economic output per worker, has remained flat in construction. In comparison, productivity has grown 1,500% in retail, manufacturing, and agriculture since 1945. One of the reasons for this is that construction is one of the most under-digitized industries in the world and is slow to adopt new technologies (McKinsey, 2017).
AI can help contractors track progress, spot dangerous behaviors and prevent accidents. AI will one day completely transform the jobsite -- construction equipment will leverage machine learning to become more and more adept at performing complex tasks autonomously. In the meantime, though, here are three ways AI is changing construction now, at least for large contractors with deep pockets. Nothing throws off a schedule like a construction deficiency that's discovered when the work is almost completed. AI systems can help contractors keep a closer eye on all parts of a project throughout the construction process so they can make any necessary corrections right away.
The field of construction is well placed to benefit from the advent of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). As part of the BIM 360 Project IQ Team at Autodesk, I've had the privilege to participate in Autodesk's foray into machine learning for construction. This article summarizes developments in this space, and covers some ways in which one can prepare to maximize value from this technology, including a broad survey of some of the applications of AI and machine learning in construction, and the potential impact. These processes are making changes across various areas, including risk management, schedule management, subcontractor management, construction site environment monitoring, and safety, to name a few. The public perception of artificial intelligence usually ranges between the two extremes of having it rule the world to it being dismissed as fantasy with no place in a serious conversation.
Imagine a jobsite tool that only improves with time. Imagine a tool that records each and every change order, every bit of rework and every safety incident. Not only does that tool record it, but it also files it away for future projects. Imagine a tool that learns from the past to improve your company's future.