Words: CJ Miller, Content Marketing Strategist Specializing in Tech, Web3, and More
You might have noticed the AI language models from Google and OpenAI taking over your social media feeds in recent months. So it’s no surprise that people are considering how AI will shake down other industries.
From replacing fast food workers to building houses, AI, robots, or machine learning systems, are all beginning to take jobs from the common worker.
But what does that mean for the masonry industry, a field steeped in tradition and manual labor?
It may not be as gloom and doom as you’d think. AI has the potential to automate and plan construction projects.
Let’s take a closer look.
Understanding AI And Its Real-World Applications
To the average person, all AI is the same. But what differentiates robots from software like ChatGPT? Or the algorithms on social media from the software Tesla uses to create self-driving cars?
The truth is that there are a few different classifications of AI. And many of the use cases we see of AI encompass multiple types.
First, there’s machine learning (ML), which is a type of AI that allows computers to learn from data without being explicitly programmed. ML algorithms are adept at finding patterns in data, making predictions, or making decisions.
And, in masonry, ML could be used to predict material requirements or project timelines. But that’s just one example.
A subset of ML, deep learning (DL) is a type of AI that mimics the human brain’s neural networks. DL can process extraneous data and is much stronger than traditional ML at processing images and speech.
There are more subsets of AI — but the last one relevant to masonry is robotic process automation (RPA). RPA can automate repetitive tasks like scheduling or invoicing in addition to general robotics. This is what completes physical tasks, like bringing food to your table at a restaurant.
A deep learning algorithm might be able to draw accurate conclusions independently, but leveraging that decision-making for a robot learning about its surroundings makes AI promising and powerful.
AI’s Application In Masonry And Construction
Integrating AI into the masonry and construction industry is not a distant future concept — it’s happening as you read this article. From automating routine tasks to enhancing safety and efficiency, AI is making waves.
Here are some of the applications:
Automate Heavy Machinery
When moving heavy objects, human error is a factor that the masonry and construction industries have to grapple with. But an AI tool like AIM can be used to automate heavy machinery, thereby reducing the risk of accidents and boosting productivity.
Another capability of machine learning is assistance with project planning. ML algorithms can analyze enormous data sets of the materials used for past projects. Then, they can piece together accurate predictions for timelines and material requirements. Therefore, companies can benefit from almost zero wasted materials and hit expectations of due dates.
Think of a ChatGPT-esque AI language model that can churn data into fun, respectful advice for a future project.
Deep Learning And Image Identification
Additionally, deep learning’s ability to understand speech and images could be used in construction and masonry. For instance, a DL system could help analyze construction site images and help identify unsafe areas based on past data.
Protecting workers and preventing injuries is a top priority for construction companies, and AI can help improve it.
AI In Design
Another exciting prospect of AI is using generative imaging to create 3D models of sites with minimal effort. Not to mention, AI’s ability to analyze and learn from vast amounts of data makes it a powerful tool for creating detailed, accurate models of construction projects before they’re built.
AI-powered 3D modeling software can take input data — like architectural drawings, material specifications, site conditions, and even word prompts (like DALL-E2) — and generate a detailed 3D model of the proposed construction project.
Then, the created model can be manipulated and explored in a virtual environment where final refinements can take place, allowing contractors and clients to view the final project before construction begins.
By creating a 3D model, companies can address potential issues before construction begins, as long as the laws of physics govern the testing environment. The testing could find structural flaws or design abnormalities. Additionally, AI makes this process faster than traditional 3D modeling. It’s like getting a first draft within seconds that’s 90% complete.
When construction companies begin to implement AI 3D modeling, their backend for construction planning will be expedited. And, the same goes for administrative tasks.
While the physical construction process is critical to the success of the company, there’s tons of back-end work that needs to be done — and could be automated by AI. For example, project management is a task that could be streamlined with AI predictive modeling.
An AI system could analyze data from past projects to predict timelines and resource requirements. This could help keep projects on track by flagging potential delays and suggesting solutions in real-time.
Another instance of robotic process automation would be handling tasks like scheduling, invoicing, and record keeping. These day-to-day tasks are still problematic, and companies could save time and money by getting AI to do these tasks for them.
Lastly, AI could play a role in material procurement. For example, the software could monitor changes in regulations and standards, getting companies the best prices on materials. It could even automate the purchasing process and integrate it with other software like 3D modeling.
With all of the progress of AI in recent months, it’s important to ask yourself: How can you think ahead?
The world is changing. And AI integration will likely happen with or without you. It will be the people who thought one, two, or six steps ahead who get the most out of what some are calling the “AI revolution.”
In masonry and construction, there are already countless instances where AI can speed things up and help reduce the costs of labor. It might not replace the entire workforce overnight, but the effects of automation will be lasting.
How will you adapt?