How technology can end construction’s productivity slump

Ibrahim Imam, co-founder and managing director of PlanRadar, looks at how construction technology megatrends could help the industry beat its 20 year-long productivity slump

The construction industry plays a vital role in the UK’s economy. It accounts for 6% of GDP, employs 3.1 million people (nearly 10% of the UK’s workforce) and influences other key economic indicators like inflation. Yet, over the last two decades, the industry has been enduring a significant productivity slump, which the UK government estimates could be costing as much as £15bn a year.

This isn’t just a problem in the UK, in developed nations all over the world construction’s productivity performance drags down the wider economy. Worldwide, the average large construction project takes 20% longer to complete than planned and runs a staggering 80 % over budget.

Why is this? Well despite being worth 6% of global GDP, construction still hasn’t undergone any significant digitalisation. From our experience, at least 60-70% of construction companies are still not dealing with any digitalisation at all, and it’s stopping them from succeeding in a competitive market.

If you look at how other sectors have compared in the last few decades, productivity in the aerospace and automobile industries has roughly doubled. In the UK’s aerospace industry, it has risen by more than 50% since 2009 alone. The difference is both these sectors have embraced digital solutions in their development, allowing them to improve on the efficiency and maintenance of their delivery.

Overcoming its traditional problems and embracing new technologies is the key to ending construction’s 20 year-long productivity slump. The government data shows that even growing productivity by 0.25% a year for 10 years, would add £56bn to UK GDP. It’s why the government announced a £600bn productivity programme called Transforming Infrastructure Performance (TIP) at the end of 2017, which itself underlined the necessity of embracing digital solutions.

Determining the type of digital adoption is the next step. There is a lot of focus right now given to headline technologies like IoT, 3D printing, augmented & virtual reality and commercialisation products such as online brokering. However, very little focus is given to the actual optimisation of processes inside construction projects, that don’t involve B2C aspects. These are often overlooked, despite the fact they have so much more potential.

This is because on-the-ground technology can directly tackle areas such as inadequate organisation, communication and performance management, three areas highlighted as amongst the most harmful to productivity by the recent McKinsey & Company research.

How technology in construction can improve productivity

Construction project management software is one of the best tools that a construction company can invest in to improve productivity. Projects can only run smoothly when all teams understand their tasks and roles. These platforms keep all the appointments, documents, plans and tasks for a project on a fast and efficient platform. They offer complete real estate life cycle that helps developers, planners, architects and construction contractors seamlessly communicate with each other, as well as giving contractors direct communication with their clients.

The platform gives a complete overview of the construction site, offering interactive blueprints with easy ticketing. Ticket creation allows attributes such as pictures, voice memos, text and status, with a priority rating and a required completion date to be added. A drawing function also allows you to add annotations to plans and images. Then, simply press a button and defects or orders are forwarded directly to the responsible contractor, along with resolution deadlines and priorities.

Mark Farmer, head of Cast Consultancy, who had recently been advising the governments construction strategy recently said that; “While we are all using smartphones, construction is still pretty much the same as it was during Roman times.” That fact is why it makes sense to adopt mobile technology and integrate it at the centre of new innovations. The platforms are readily available, on iOS, Android and Windows devices, as well as through internet browsers. As it’s cloud-based technology, no installation is required, and it can be accessed offline. Training isn’t required because the user interface is already so familiar and straightforward. On average, PlanRadar customers need less than an hour of support a year, if you can use a tablet, then you can use PlanRadar.

What difference does it make? Well, these project management platforms can increase project efficiency by up to 70%. With our system, users are already realising time savings of seven working hours per week on average. That’s roughly around 18% of their working time. A survey we conducted among our users and average personnel costs found an average ROI of 900%. It’s figures such as these that demonstrate the difference that on the ground digitalisation can make, and how digital technologies can significantly impact on the productivity gap by maximising the ROI of infrastructure investment. Continued modernisation will improve long-term margins, lower delivery costs, and create greater predictability by de-risking on site delivery. That’s how technology can end construction’s productivity slump.


Ibrahim Imam

Co-founder and managing director




The Australian construction industry needs to radically shake up its approach to construction to help save the environment, experts say.

A more timber-heavy and mostly off-site construction process could be the way forward, Adjunct Professor at the Centre for Smart Modern Construction at Western Sydney University David Chandler said.

He will appeal to the timber and construction industries to adopt off-site construction manufacturing, or OSCM, already popular in Europe, by 2030 at the Timber Offsite Construction conference on June 17.

“The big difference between the [Australia and Europe] are the European businesses are very large businesses, in large markets and very close to each other,” he said.

“In Australia we have the opposite, small businesses in moderately sized markets far apart from each other.”

By building off-site, the construction process becomes more streamlined, materials and energy efficient, and faster, Adjunct Professor Chandler said.

“The moment you begin to transform the process of manufacturing building, you have to make less waste. And the less waste, the better for the environment,” he said.

To ease the likely advent of smart homes, Adjunct Professor Chandler said taking an OSCM approach was needed.

“[Buildings are] becoming filled with all sorts of sensors. They will record data about if they’re leaking [heat], cracking, all sorts of things,” he said.

“It’s very hard to put smart in buildings after they’re made, you need to put it in as you’re building them and if we don’t go down an OSCM pathway it will be very hard to put the smart in buildings.”

25 King in Brisbane is mostly made of timber, with some conventional material like concrete used sparingly. Photo: Aurecon

The resurgence of enthusiasm within the industry for the age-old building material timber was helping to enable this pathway, Aurecon major projects director Ralph Belpario said.

Aurecon has shown an interest in using timber in its construction projects, including in its new Brisbane headquarters, 25 King. The 10-storey building is mostly made from cross-laminated timber and glued-laminated timber.

“Timber is an enabler,” he said. “It’s lighter, easier to handle, less cranage, the material is easier to work.”

Mr Belpario said at present, building a tower with mostly timber attracted a price premium but it was worth it.

“That will alleviate as it becomes more popular,” he said. “At the moment there is a limited supply chain.

“What we need is a groundswell so more people invest in the technology.”

Just one company is locally producing cross-laminated timber in Australia.

Wood is better for the environment than conventional materials concrete and steel, the production of which results in significant carbon emissions. The cement, concrete and steel industries were working towards reducing their impact but Mr Belpario said it still didn’t measure up.

“Sustainable timber is the only true sustainable building material,” he said. “Everything else we use to build at some point comes out of the ground. It’s the only material that you can plant, grow, harvest and grow again.”

Timber is lighter and easier to handle, creating efficiencies in the building process. Photo: Supplied

The third change the industry needed to take on was a set of national building standards aimed at minimising energy use within homes and reducing the impact a changing climate would have on them, Timberlink Australia executive general manager of innovation Duncan Mayes said.

He was championing a change to national building codes to outlaw aluminium window and door frames in favour of aluminium-coated timber frames.

It was a small change, Mr Mayes said, but it would patch a key thermal weakness in homes, therefore reducing the energy needed for heating and cooling.

“Double-glazed glass can reduce the temperature, but the weakness is now the frames,” he said. “I only need to see it from my own energy bill. They provide me with a monthly consumption of how much I use and also the greenhouse gas emissions.

“You can see the direct impact of badly performing buildings. If we want to drive towards a significant reduction in our carbon footprint, we need to dramatically reduce the amount of thermal movement in our homes.”

A buried senate committee report last year called for national building standards to homogenise hodgepodge rules around Australia, and lead a top-down effort to deal with the climate crisis.


SOURCE: Domain

Places for People has unveiled a pioneering joint venture to deliver hundreds of modular homes, as confidence in offsite manufacturing (OSM) grows.

Backed by England’s housing minister Kit Malthouse MP and Homes England, the deal is the largest yet for Britain’s modular housing sector.

Under the £100 million partnership, Places for People will purchase 750 units from ilke Homes, including 500 for sites it already owns and 250 for new schemes it will partner on to develop affordable and market-priced housing.

Based in Yorkshire, ilke Homes has won a number of industry awards and accreditations, including a Sunday Times Best Home award. It was originally established by Keepmoat Homes and has been able to draw upon the expertise of modular technology firm Algeco Group.

David Cowans, chief executive of Places for People, added: “We are a market disruptor becoming more active in the adoption of MMC; partnering with a proven modular business such as ilke allows us to create more affordable, well-designed homes across the country – speeding up delivery, cutting cost and giving our customers unrivalled choice and quality.

“This is just the start for offsite manufacturing and as placemakers, we are going to invest even more in modular. We will implement efficient processes and new design techniques which not only raise the bar for the industry – but crucially, give people across the country affordable homes to live in. Our partnership is about pioneering a new way of delivering homes and disrupting the market through making socially-responsible decisions and working with best-in-class partners to improve quality, speed up housing delivery and minimise environmental impact.”

Dave Sheridan, executive chairman at ilke Homes, said: “Ride-hailing apps have replaced standing in the rain to flag taxis, so it makes sense that we embrace the benefits of manufacturing homes in dry factories. A mature OSM market could create an ‘Uber moment’ for construction, speeding up delivery, cutting cost and giving our customers unrivalled choice and quality. Our deal with Places for People will help continue to grow our capacity and is a huge vote of confidence in modular housing and Homes England deserves huge praise for its entrepreneurial approach to accelerating delivery.”

Kit Malthouse MP added: “This is excellent news as the UK blazes a trail in the modern methods of construction that are transforming home building.

“Today’s announcement supports our urgent mission to deliver more, better and faster home construction to ensure a new generation can realise the dream of home ownership.”


SOURCE: Scottish Housing News

Funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), under the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund ‘Transforming Construction’, the three-year project – Automating Concrete Construction (ACORN) – will develop a holistic approach to the manufacture, assembly, reuse, and deconstruction of concrete buildings, leading to a healthier, safer, built environment.

The research involves Dr John Orr, Lecturer in Concrete Structures, who is working alongside colleagues at the University of Bath and the University of Dundee. ACORN will capitalise on the computational and robotics expertise of the research team, to create an end-to-end digital process to automate the manufacture of concrete buildings, capitalising on the recent proliferation of affordable robotics and bringing them into an industry ripe for a step-change in sustainability and productivity.

The construction sector is responsible for nearly half of the UK’s carbon emissions and concrete alone for 5% of global CO2 emissions. The widespread use of flat panel formwork for concrete leads to materially inefficient prismatic shapes for the beams, columns, and floor slabs in our buildings. This practice, which has been around since Roman times, is a key driver behind the high embodied carbon emissions associated with concrete structures. As much as half of the concrete in a building could be saved, if only we approached our use of the material in a different way.

The ACORN team are working towards creating a culture that is built on the concept of using enough material, and no more. The team believe that by using innovative digital tools and techniques to optimise the shape and reinforcement at the design phase, as well as using robotics to create bespoke formwork and reinforcement during construction, a new generation of buildings will begin to dominate – buildings that use material only where it is needed, and that are manufactured in safe, quality-controlled and highly productive off-site facilities.

“Something as simple as allowing beams, columns and floor slabs to have the shape they need to take load, rather than the shape they need to be easily formed, allows a complete rethink of the way material is used in our buildings,” said Dr Orr. “We can begin to ask exciting questions about their shape, what material they should be made from, how we can take into account whole-life value and how we should organise our design processes to take advantage. ACORN will answer all of these questions.”

Dr Paul Shepherd, Principal Investigator and Senior Lecturer in the University of Bath’s Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, said: “ACORN is tackling the UK government’s construction 2025 targets head-on. By automating construction, moving it off-site, and developing a culture of using just enough material, and no more, the project will lower costs, reduce delivery times and dramatically reduce carbon emissions.”

ACORN is supported by 12 project partners: AECOM Ltd (UK); AKT II; Arup Group Ltd; Building Research Establishment Ltd; Buro Happold; Byrne Bros; Cambridge CSIC; Foster and Partners; Laing O’Rourke Ltd; McKinsey and Company UK; OPS Structural Engineering and Tonkin Liu.

To ensure the ideas of ACORN are taken up by industry, the partners will share their practical knowledge of the latest industry trends and will provide case studies on which to benchmark the research.

SOURCE: Cambridge Network


Places for People, one of Britain’s leading placemaking organisations, has announced a pioneering joint venture with ilke Homes to deliver hundreds of modular homes, as confidence in offsite manufacturing (OSM) grows.In the largest deal yet for Britain’s modular housing sector, Places for People will purchase 750 units from ilke Homes, including 500 for sites it already owns and 250 for new schemes they will partner on to develop affordable and market-priced housing.With 198,640 homes across the UK and some of the country’s most significant regeneration projects, Places for People’s backing of OSM will be welcomed as property chiefs respond to calls to speed up delivery, improve quality and fend off a construction skills crisis.The benefits of volumetric modular construction – where precision-engineered, factory-finished modules are assembled on-site – include:

  • The light gauge steel construction can be clad in traditional brick making it look like a normal house
  • Development time on site is halved, meaning income can be generated far quicker as factories engineer homes while foundations are dug
  • Significant reduction in snagging, thanks to dry and warm factory production
  • Around 90 per cent less on site waste and 80 percent improvement in man-hour productivity
  • ilke is the first modular manufacturer to be fully covered by NHBC warranty

Last July, Places for People was one of the first organisations to be awarded a grant from Homes England to deliver an additional 2,603 homes, as part of the agency’s strategic partnerships with eight ambitious housing associations.

Based in Yorkshire, ilke Homes has won a number of industry awards and accreditations, including a Sunday Times Best Home award. It was originally established by Keepmoat Homes, one of the UK’s leading housebuilders and has been able to draw upon the expertise of Algeco Group, a world leader in modular technology.


Minister of State for Housing, Kit Malthouse MP said:

“This is excellent news as the UK blazes a trail in the modern methods of construction that are transforming home building.

“Today’s announcement supports our urgent mission to deliver more, better and faster home construction to ensure a new generation can realise the dream of home ownership.”


David Cowans, Chief Executive of Places for People, added:

“We are a market disruptor becoming more active in the adoption of MMC; partnering with a proven modular business such as ilke allows us to create more affordable, well-designed homes across the country – speeding up delivery, cutting cost and giving our customers unrivalled choice and quality.

“This is just the start for offsite manufacturing and as placemakers, we are going to invest even more in modular. We will implement efficient processes and new design techniques which not only raise the bar for the industry – but crucially, give people across the country affordable homes to live in. Our partnership is about pioneering a new way of delivering homes and disrupting the market through making socially-responsible decisions and working with best-in-class partners to improve quality, speed up housing delivery and minimise environmental impact.”


Dave Sheridan, executive chairman at ilke Homes, said:

“Ride-hailing apps have replaced standing in the rain to flag taxis, so it makes sense that we embrace the benefits of manufacturing homes in dry factories. A mature OSM market could create an “Uber moment” for construction, speeding up delivery, cutting cost and giving our customers unrivalled choice and quality. Our deal with Places for People will help continue to grow our capacity and is a huge vote of confidence in modular housing and Homes England deserves huge praise for its entrepreneurial approach to accelerating delivery.”


Sir Edward Lister, Chair of Homes England, said:

“It’s no secret that the housing industry has been facing significant productivity and skills challenges in recent years, which is why, as the government’s housing accelerator, Homes England is committed to championing modern methods of construction – such as modular homes – to increase the pace of delivery across the country.

“It’s exciting to see two of our partners, Places for People and ilke Homes, joining forces to increase the capacity of the off-site manufacturing industry and deliver much-needed new homes. This kind of innovation in the private sector is exactly what we need to see more of to disrupt the housing market and meet the country’s housing demand.”


Kate Henderson, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said:

“It’s really positive to see housing providers like Places for People embracing offsite manufacturing. This is the single biggest modular housing deal yet, and the fact that it has been led by a housing providers speaks volumes about where we as a sector are at.

“Offsite manufacturing is an opportunity to build high quality homes, support communities and invest in skills through the jobs it creates. It clearly provides huge benefits for accelerating delivery and improving energy efficiency.

“Housing providers are well-placed to take a long-term, strategic view around the delivery of new homes and I am delighted to see the likes of Places for People and ilke Homes on the vanguard of change across the housing sector.”


Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation, said:

“The industry has delivered big increases in supply over recent years but we are still some way short of building enough homes to meet the country’s need. As we look to address our housing shortage, the industry is increasingly looking to innovate as a way of delivering ever more, high quality homes. We welcome such initiatives and will continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure new technologies come forward and be developed.”


Neil Jefferson, chief operating officer of the National House Building Council, said:

“We have worked extensively with ilke Homes and they were the first low-rise volumetric manufacturer to be accepted as meeting NHBC Standards, meaning homes built using this system can be covered by the 10-year Buildmark warranty.

“Modern methods of construction are helping to support the demand for new homes and, when manufactured in controlled conditions, can help drive improvements in quality. We do not take this for granted, however, which is why we have carried out a detailed review of the design, manufacture and construction of ilke Homes which will help give homeowners confidence in the quality of new homes.“


David Cowans added:

“We’ve been working with ilke Homes for a long time and this has enabled us to really road-test their technology and have complete confidence in what is a top-class product. The potential for this technology to allow us to start to make housing more customisable in the near-future is inevitable, and I am looking forward to be working with ilke as we look to develop and innovate designs so that residents at all price points have a better home.”


Mark Farmer, a government advisor who warned In his landmark report the construction sector must “modernise or die”, said:

“Places for People’s leadership in this space, driving forward this kind of strategic deal, is a template for how the wider housing providers sector should act. We were impressed that ilke Homes had a strong digital design thread, a clear path for business evolution and the technical and management skills to be a best in class modular business.”

“Game-changing disruption in the UK modular homes sector is now starting to gather pace. This revolution is long overdue and will enable us to deliver more homes to a better quality.

“The government’s pledge to get us building 300,000 homes a year will only be possible if offsite manufacturing capacity grows and other prominent developers follow the lead set down by the likes of Places for People, Berkeley Homes and Urban Splash.”


Nicholas Boys Smith, director of Create Streets

“This is very welcome news. Our society has an existential challenge to meet with collapsing generational fairness. This means not just that we need to build homes fast enough but also to high standards.

We need a rich diversity of supply and innovation. And we need it from developers and contractors who are genuinely interested in creating attractive, safe, communities with beautiful places to live and work, rest and shop. Modern methods of construction are an important part of this mission and I welcome today’s news.”

SOURCE: Ilke Homes

The International Energy Agency (IEA) says countries intending to retain nuclear power as an option in their clean-energy transitions should support innovative new reactor designs with lower capital costs and shorter lead times, such as small modular reactors (SMRs).
The recommendation is made in a newly released report, titled ‘Nuclear Power in a Clean Energy System’, released this week during the tenth Clean Energy Ministerial in Vancouver, Canada.
The report makes the case for sustaining nuclear, which currently accounts for 10% of global electricity generation, as an option to help meet global climate targets.
The report asserts that, while a clean-energy transition with less nuclear power is possible, a substantial rise in investment in other forms of power generation and electricity networks would be required.
The IEA calculates that the electricity sector in advanced economies would have to invest an additional $1.6-trillion between 2018 and 2040.
Securing investment in new nuclear plants would require a “more intrusive” policy intervention, however, particularly in light of the high cost of projects and unfavourable recent experiences.
The report highlights the long delays in completing advanced reactor projects in Finland, France and the US.
“They have turned out to cost far more than originally expected and dampened investor interest in new projects.”
The main obstacles to new nuclear investments are listed as including: the sheer scale of investment and long lead times; the risk of construction problems, delays and cost overruns; and the possibility of future changes in policy or the electricity system itself.
Interest is rising, therefore, in advanced nuclear technologies that suit private investment such as SMRs.
“There is a case for governments to promote it through funding for research and development, public-private partnerships for venture capital and early deployment grants.”
Standardisation of reactor designs will be crucial, however, to benefit from economies of scale in the manufacturing of SMRs.
South Africa’s Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) programme was officially closed in 2010, owing to funding constraints and an inability to attract an investment partner.
The intellectual property was retained by the PBMR Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Eskom, which subsequently developed a conceptual outline for converting the PBMR into an Advanced High Temperature Reactor.
Eskom is facing serious financial constraints and is unlikely to be in a position to invest in nuclear research and development.
South Africa’s yet-to-be-concluded Integrated Resource Plan includes an assumption that the life of the 1 800 MW Koeberg nuclear power station, in the Western Cape, will be extended by 20 years to 2044.
The draft IRP, currently the subject of consultation at the National Economic Development and Labour Council, does not preclude the development of new nuclear capacity, but states that such capacity would by added at a “scale and pace that will not have a negative impact on the economy”.
No new nuclear capacity is envisaged for the period to 2030, representing a marked deviation from the current outdated IRP, which controversially catered for the introduction of 9 600 MW of new nuclear capacity between 2023 and 2030.

SOURCE: Engineering News


About 7 percent of the world’s labor force is employed in the construction industry, so it is a major sector of the world economy. Individuals and businesses spend $10 trillion per year on construction-related activities (McKinsey, 2017). Other sectors have used AI and other technologies to transform their productivity performance. Construction, in comparison, has progressed at a glacial pace.

The global construction industry has grown by only 1 percent per year over the past few decades. Compare this with a growth rate of 3.6 percent in manufacturing, and 2.8 percent for the whole world economy. Productivity, or the total economic output per worker, has remained flat in construction. In comparison, productivity has grown 1500 percent 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).

Check out the free guide Adapt or Die to see how the right cutting-edge technology helps construction firm to keep up.

Adopting the latest technology can be daunting for teams. But machine learning and artificial intelligence are helping make job sites more efficient and saving money in the process. AI solutions that have made an impact in other industries are beginning to emerge in the construction industry.


What is Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an aggregative term for describing when a machine mimics human cognitive functions, like problem-solving, pattern recognition, and learning. Machine learning is a subset of AI. Machine learning is a field of artificial intelligence that uses statistical techniques to give computer systems the ability to “learn” from data, without being explicitly programmed. A machine becomes better at understanding and providing insights as it is exposed to more data.

McKinsey expects the spread of AI in the construction sector to be modest in the immediate future (McKinsey, 2018). Nonetheless, a shift is coming. Stakeholders can no longer afford to see AI as pertinent only to other industries.  Engineering and construction will need to catch up with AI methods and applications. That is the only way to contend with incoming market competitors and to remain relevant.

AI and Machine Learning for Smart Construction

The potential applications of machine learning and AI in construction are vast. Requests for information, open issues, and change orders are standard in the industry. Machine learning is like a smart assistant that can scrutinize this mountain of data. It then alerts project managers about the critical things that need their attention. Several applications already use AI in this way. Its benefits range from mundane filtering of spam emails to advanced safety monitoring.

10 Examples of AI in Construction

  1. Prevent cost overruns

Most mega projects  go over budget despite employing the best project teams. Artificial Neural Networks are used on projects to predict cost overruns based on factors such as project size, contract type and the competence level of project managers. Historical data such as planned start and end dates are used by predictive models to envision realistic timelines for future projects. AI helps staff remotely access real-life training material which helps them enhance their skills and knowledge quickly. This reduces the time taken to onboard new resources onto projects. As a result, project delivery is expedited.

  1. AI for Better Design of Buildings Through Generative Design

Building Information Modeling is a 3D model-based process that gives architecture, engineering and construction professionals insights to efficiently plan, design, construct and manage buildings and infrastructure. In order to plan and design the construction of a building, the 3D models need to take into consideration the architecture, engineering, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) plans and the sequence of activities of the respective teams. The challenge is to ensure that the different models from the sub-teams do not clash with each other. The industry is trying to use machine learning in the form of generative design to identify and mitigate clashes between the different models generated by the different teams in the planning and design phase to prevent rework. There is software that uses machine learning algorithms to explore all the variations of a solution and generates design alternatives. It leverages machine learning to specifically create 3D models of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems while simultaneously making sure that the entire routes for MEP systems do not clash with the building architecture while it learns from each iteration to come up with an optimal solution.

  1. Risk Mitigation

Every construction project has some risk that comes in many forms such as Quality, Safety, Time, and Cost Risk. The larger the project, the more risk, as there are multiple sub-contractors working on different trades in parallel on job sites. There are AI and machine learning solutions today that general contractors use to monitor and prioritize risk on the job site, so the project team can focus their limited time and resources on the biggest risk factors. AI is used to automatically assign priority to issues. Subcontractors are rated based on a risk score so construction managers can work closely with high-risk teams to mitigate risk.

  1. Project Planning

An AI Startup launched in 2018 with the promise that its robots and artificial intelligence hold the key to solving late and over budget construction projects. The company uses robots to autonomously capture 3D scans of construction sites and then feeds that data into a deep neural network that classifies how far along different sub-projects are. If things seem off track, the management team can step in to deal with small problems before they become major issues. Algorithms of the future will use an AI technique known as “reinforcement learning.” This technique allows algorithms to learn based on trial and error. It can assess endless combinations and alternatives based on similar projects. It aids in project planning since it optimizes the best path and corrects itself over time.

  1. AI Will Make Job sites More Productive

There are companies that are starting to offer self-driving construction machinery to perform repetitive tasks more efficiently than their human counterparts, such as pouring concrete, bricklaying, welding, and demolition. Excavation and prep work is being performed by autonomous or semi-autonomous bulldozers, which can prepare a job site with the help of a human programmer to exact specifications. This frees up human workers for the construction work itself and reduces the overall time required to complete the project. Project managers can also track job site work in real time. They use facial recognition, onsite cameras, and similar technologies to assess worker productivity and conformance to procedures.

  1. AI for Construction Safety

Construction workers are killed on the job five times more often than other laborers. According to OSHA, the leading causes of private sector deaths (excluding highway collisions) in the construction industry were falls, followed by struck by an object, electrocution, and caught-in/between. A Boston-based General Contractor with annual sales of $3 Billion is developing an algorithm that analyzes photos from its job sites, scans them for safety hazards such as workers not wearing protective equipment and correlates the images with its accident records. The company says it can potentially compute risk ratings for projects so safety briefings can be held when an elevated threat is detected.

  1. AI Will Address Labor Shortages

Labor shortage and a desire to boost the industry’s low productivity are compelling construction firms to invest in AI and data science. A 2017 McKinsey report says that construction firms could boost productivity by as much as 50 percent through real-time analysis of data.  Construction companies are starting to use AI and machine learning to better plan for distribution of labor and machinery across jobs. A robot constantly evaluating job progress and the location of workers and equipment enables project managers to tell instantly which job sites have enough workers and equipment to complete the project on schedule, and which might be falling behind where additional labor could be deployed. Experts expect construction robots to become more intelligent and autonomous with AI techniques.

  1. Off-site Construction

Construction companies are increasingly relying on off-site factories staffed by autonomous robots that piece together components of a building, which are then pieced together by human workers on-site. Structures like walls can be completed assembly-line style by autonomous machinery more efficiently than their human counterparts, leaving human workers to finish the detail work like Plumbing, HVAC and Electrical systems when the structure is fitted together.

  1. AI and Big Data in Construction

At a time when a massive amount of data is being created every day, AI Systems are exposed to an endless amount of data to learn from and improve every day.  Every job site becomes a potential data source for AI. Data generated from images captured from mobile devices, drone videos, security sensors, building information modeling (BIM), and others have become a pool of information. This presents an opportunity for construction industry professionals and customers to analyze and benefit from the insights generated from the data with the help of AI and machine learning systems.

  1. AI for Post-Construction

Building managers can use AI long after the construction of a building is complete. Building information modelling, or BIM, stores information about the structure of the building. AI can be used to monitor developing problems and even offers solutions to prevent problems.

The Future of AI in Construction

Robotics, AI, and the Internet of Things can reduce building costs by up to 20 percent. Engineers can don virtual reality goggles and send mini-robots into buildings under construction. These robots use cameras to track the work as it progresses. AI is being used to plan the routing of electrical and plumbing systems in modern buildings. Companies are using AI to develop safety systems for worksites. AI is being used to track the real-time interactions of workers, machinery, and objects on the site and alert supervisors of potential safety issues, construction errors, and productivity issues.

Despite the predictions of massive job losses, AI is unlikely to replace the human workforce. Instead, it will alter business models in the construction industry, reduce expensive errors, reduce worksite injuries, and make building operations more efficient.

Leaders at construction companies should prioritize investment based on areas where AI can have the most impact on their company’s unique needs. Early movers will set the direction of the industry and benefit in the short and long term.

Article by Sumana Rao



Some £55 million grant funding has been agreed with Homes England to deliver 4,000 new homes with the first developments getting underway later this year, it has been announced.

The deal will support 12 local authorities to accelerate housing across England on sites in their ownership and the programme prioritises the use of modern methods of construction will contribute to an increase the build time by an average of 40%.

The funding totalling £55million has been awarded through the Government’s £450 million Local Authority Accelerated Construction (LAAC) Programme and will support local authorities with a range of work required to prepare their sites for the development of new homes such as infrastructure enabling works, planning and technical expertise and site remediation.

The funding will be used to kick start the development of 4,000 new homes across England, including 1,400 at a 400 acre site at Horton Heath, Eastleigh. Eastleigh Borough Council purchased the site in 2018 and the development will benefit from £20.8million of LAAC funding to accelerate the delivery of a mix of one, two, three and four bedroom homes, including a minimum of 30 percent affordable housing.

Today’s announcement includes deals with local authorities from across England. They are the City of York Council, Gateshead Council, Newcastle City Council, Pendle Borough Council, Eastleigh Borough Council, Medway Council, Dorset Council, Leicestershire County Council, High Peak Borough Council, City of Lincoln Council, Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, and South Norfolk Council.

‘We haven’t built enough homes in this country for far too long and our accelerated construction programme is here to change that, and fast,’ said Housing Minister Kit Malthouse.

This £55 million funding boost will help councils get 4,000 new homes built across the country using the latest modern methods that cut down on construction time. We must keep building more, better, faster to meet our ambition to building 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s,’ he added.

According to Stephen Kinsella, executive director for Land at Homes England, the funding will enable local authorities to accelerate housing delivery by enabling them to prepare sites for development and bring forward the construction of new homes incorporating modern methods of construction.

It’s amazing what you can do with 3D printing. From food and furniture to prosthetics and artificial organs, the technology is very versatile and will undoubtedly change the way industries work in future. Now, researchers …

Business leaders from within the industry met at Spencer House in London for a stategic discussion around the state of the industry and how the sector was reacting to market and political conditions, in particular the fact that BREXIT had been hanging over us for nearly 3 years and was creating an unstable platform for growth.

Discussions around the economy were led by Charles Grant, Director; Centre for European Reform and Rupert Robinson, Managing Director; RSBGi who both spoke about their career development and factors that had led them to their current positions. Under ‘chatham house rule’ Charles shared his views on the current European market conditions and the effect that the decision to leave or remain would have on our economy relating it specifically to the property sector.

The consensus seemed to be that all economists agree that any Brexit scenario is negative, confidence is down, growth has slowed, investment has been reduced and the lack of optimism is a big issue.

When the discussions were concluded Charles staged a ‘Brexit referendum’ to gauge industry opinion based upon 2 key questions;

Leave or remain?

The vote was

  • Leave 13%
  • Remain 87%

And If leave was the option; May’s deal or a hard BREXIT?

The vote was

  • Take Mays deal 0%
  • Hard Brexit 100%

The results were quite clear; and from a group that was representing all the disciplines within the industry it is clear that the property sector wants to remain in the EU, but above all wants action to be taken swiftly so that the current ‘speed bump’ in the road can be navigated accordingly.