An extra pair of eyes

Hidden costs can put a huge dent in a construction project’s progress, causing delay and leading to contractors using contingency funds and eroding their profit margins, says Aviv Leibovici, chief product officer and co-founder of Buildots. The Israeli artificial intelligence construction technology firm arrived in the UK earlier this year, opening an office in London. 

Leibovici says that AI can be used to shrink this expenditure, providing contractors with accurate data to make better decisions, analyse project performance and save precious time and money. 

“There are so many ways to articulate what AI is, but here at Buildots we see it as a machine’s ability to perform an action or reach a conclusion similarly to how we do,” says Leibovici. “As humans, we look at an image and make a decision – it is after all, a learned behaviour – and AI performs this task in a like-for-like manner.”

This article was first published in the Dec/Jan 2021 issue of The Construction Index magazine. 

Buildots’ system – of which AI is a main feature – lets site managers know the status of a project via access to an online platform. The software harnesses the capacity of off-the-shelf 360o cameras to capture site data and compare it with the BIM information, creating an up-to-date view of a project. 

A dashboard system sitting on top of the live model creates the construction ‘control centre’, showing progress reports and monthly evaluations as well as flagging any divergences from the 3D model.

In particular, AI can help busy project managers and site managers by capturing and analysing huge amounts of data, reporting on a project’s progress to ensure all works are on schedule. “AI enables contractors to have a 360o view of their project to make better decisions regarding progress and productivity,” says Leibovici. “As project managers simply do not have the resource to manually inspect every component, AI is the extra pair of eyes, keeping a programme on time and to budget.”

AI and BIM work hand-in-hand to analyse whether the design is being followed on site, he says. “Unanticipated costs can be a real burden to contractors, bruising productivity and significantly affecting project margins.” 

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These costs often stem from the need to rectify issues on site that have long gone undetected, perhaps because a project manager hasn’t had the time to double-check whether something has or hasn’t been installed. AI can act as an early warning system, providing a high-level view of an entire project that can help inform actions and decision-making. 

Sometimes projects can be delayed for months as walls or access routes have been missed, says Leibovici. “This is where AI really comes into its own – with site managers able to reliably track project activity which is actionable immediately, instead of in three months’ time when work has moved on to the next stage.”

He adds that, as well as reducing the chances of unforeseen costs, Buildots’ system sustains a project’s momentum, tracking exactly what happens and when so that project teams hit their targets and milestones. 

“Whilst the Buildots platform starts with data capture, the real value is derived from enabling contractors to analyse the information to underpin decision-making,” says Leibovici. “This offers a multitude of benefits both in terms of a project’s success and for a construction business more widely. To put it succinctly, AI helps to futureproof businesses. This technology is a real game-changer for contractors, elevating the amount of data available to them and giving enhanced visibility on project performance.”

Contractors may use the information to know where best to invest their resources and improve as a business. For instance, they may find they are spending time and money rectifying mistakes and so turn to AI for help in resolving the issues. “AI achieves this as the data analysis it enables lets contractors highlight the problems at hand, so they can kickstart the behaviour change that is needed,” says Leibovici.

He concludes: “With multiple benefits on offer it is no wonder why AI is here to stay in the industry.”

This article was first published in the Dec/Jan 2021 issue of The Construction Index magazine. 

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