Technology is everywhere in the modern world, and it even exists in hands-on and human-driven professions like construction. Here are three ways in which technology has made a positive impact in the construction industry.
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
What is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial intelligence allows machines to do tasks that are normally done by humans. A robot, computer, or other types of machine is controlled by another computer with special codes that allow it to perform a certain task. There are actually four different types of AI, but not all four are used in construction. The four types of AI are:
- Reactive AI: A specific command is put in and the correct response comes out.
- Limited Memory AI: Learns from past interactions and builds new knowledge on it.
- Theory of Mind AI: Machines understand the emotions of humans.
- Self-Aware AI: A machine understands its own emotions.
Construction uses reactive AI and limited memory AI, while the theory of mind AI can be associated with humanoid robots, and self-aware AI does not exist at the moment.
How AI Benefits Construction
One of the most well-known technologies in construction and related industries is 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM). This technique takes a computer design and creates a real-life version of it by layering materials (usually concrete). 3D printing can even be used to build buildings, but is more often used to lay concrete when designing parking lots and sidewalks.
Another well-known example of technology in construction is the use of drones. Drones are typically used to survey a piece of land and to monitor a site once construction work has begun. They are also used to gather information from a height, such as a tall bridge, so construction workers won’t have to put their lives at risk.
2. Machine Learning
What is Machine Learning?
Machine learning is actually a component of AI (specifically, limited memory AI), which eliminates the need for programming because the machine learns and makes adjustments accordingly. There’s also a subset of machine learning called deep learning, which is much more complex.
Examples of Machine Learning in Construction
Machine learning has made the biggest impact in construction in the area of safety. In addition to the normal PPE (personal protective equipment) worn by construction workers (e.g., hard hats, safety glasses, etc.), AI and machine learning have made it possible for construction workers to have something called wearables as a part of their PPE.
These wearables can identify potential safety hazards that a worker may be exposed to, as well as monitor a worker’s vitals to prevent exhaustion and dehydration.
This specific form of AI has also made it possible to determine the risks that lurk on and around construction sites more easily. Everyday risks and risks specific to a particular project are mitigated, thus making construction sites safer than they once were.
This same technology also makes construction sites more productive by allowing machines to drive, build, demolish, and weld with little to no human interaction.
3. The Internet of Things (IoT)
What is IoT?
IoT refers to devices that are equipped with sensors and software that can connect with other devices and exchange information over the internet. It truly takes AI and machine learning to the next level by allowing machines to interact with other machines. Many of us already use IoT devices in our everyday lives in the form of voice-controlled devices.
IoT in Construction
Drones and wearables are also examples of IoT devices. Drones are able to reach remote and hard-to-reach locations and send collected information back to the site. Wearables can also alert emergency services to the exact location of an injured worker. IoT consulting services are also used by companies to help prevent machine downtime, improve on-site security, report machine performance data, and generate real-time reports.
With technology rapidly changing and evolving in the construction industry, it’s now more important than ever for workers in the industry to keep up with current trends by continuing their education in their chosen field. Also, with these technologies making construction much safer, there may be an increase in the number of construction workers in the near future.
Each of these three types of technologies build upon each other to create new machines and devices that have helped the construction industry in many ways. Because of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the internet of things, the construction industry is now a safer, more productive field of work.