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Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Civil Engineering

What is AI:
It is the art and science of creating intelligent machines, particularly intelligent computer programmes. It resembles the task of using computers to understand human intelligence. Basically, Artificial Intelligence refers to the intelligence displayed by machines. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has grown extremely prevalent in today’s world. It is the simulation of human intelligence in computers that have been programmed to learn and mimic human actions. These machines can learn from their mistakes and do activities that are similar to those performed by humans.

AI in Civil Engineering:
Deep learning technologies have been effectively employed in a variety of industries for many years, including civil engineering. Indeed, with the emergence of complex constructions such as skyscrapers, machine learning techniques grabbed centre stage in the sector a long time ago. We are seeing the application and growth of AI in the construction industry more than ever before, with intelligent algorithms, big data, and deep learning machines transforming productivity performance.

AI has been used by practising civil engineers, contractors, and service providers to tackle a wide range of challenges. Artificial Intelligence in civil engineering, for example, has advanced to the point where efficiencies are fed directly into construction processes. AI is also used in the early stages of many projects to improve design, risk management, and productivity. It is critical to understand that construction organizations who have already begun to apply AI processes are 50% more profitable. More importantly, Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a whole offers a wide range of applications in civil engineering. Engineers can make better decisions and deliver their services more effectively in an age where robots can think rather than just do.

Uses of AI in Civil Engineering:
1) For better designs of buildings:
With iconic structures of all shapes and sizes dotting the skylines of major cities throughout the world, we can all agree that the boundaries and standards of design and engineering have been pushed to their limits. All of this is possible because to the industry’s biggest game-changer: Artificial Intelligence in 3D Building Information Modelling (BIM).

Civil engineers can use BIM tools to make it easier to create and design more accurate 3D models before starting construction. Engineers may now improve design utilising data acquired from simulations, models, and previous projects thanks to the integration of AI-based design exploration.

Civil engineers can produce building blueprints, floor plan drawings, and more by incorporating machine intelligence into the BIM process. They can also make the necessary changes across all design areas with pinpoint accuracy.

2) To overcome costs/schedule overrun:
Most mega construction projects go over budget and are prone to mistakes because they are frequently created in a short timeframe and with limited information about the scope of the entire project.

Although cost overruns are unavoidable, using AI in construction allows an engineer to have a clear picture of cost estimates and outcomes from past projects, allowing for improved planning and budgeting. Civil engineers can foresee cost overruns and envision realistic timetables for existing projects using learning algorithms that use features of completed projects.

Furthermore, AI allows engineers to access remote sites and assists them in implementing real-time training resources in order to increase abilities and team leadership.

3) On-site smart construction to expedite project completion:
Some companies are offering self-driving construction machinery to perform repetitive tasks more efficiently than humans, such as pouring concrete, bricklaying, welding, and demolition. Excavation and preparation work is done by autonomous or semi-autonomous bulldozers, which may prepare a task site to exact specifications with the help of a human programmer. This frees up human labour for the actual construction job and cuts the project’s overall completion time in half. Project managers can also monitor work on the job site in real time. They monitor worker productivity and process compliance using facial recognition, onsite cameras, and other similar technology.

4) Risk Identification and Mitigation:
The construction process entails a number of potential safety hazards, some of which can result in actual accidents. AI allows for more precise data collection from real-world context models, which can aid civil engineers in identifying possible hazards throughout the construction process.

As AI can understand a collection of building site data to make meaningful conclusions, enabling the invention and usage of appropriate technology in construction aids an engineer in implementing helpful risk control measures.

Additionally, AI-enabled cameras and networks can continually monitor all areas of construction, allowing engineers to assess equipment use, measure progress, and analyse operations in real-time, allowing for the early discovery of potential risk issues.

5) Facility Management with Artificial Intelligence:
Based on pre-existing information on blueprints and design from past projects, AI-powered database systems can advise engineers on the optimal techniques of on-site building. AI can also be utilised in administrative roles, such as allowing staff to book vacations and sick days, tracking construction material deliveries, and alerting workers about delays.

Because of the massive amount of data collected, AI can be used to change the construction project in question and automatically spot understaffed construction regions that may require additional personnel.

6) Adopting AI for Construction Solutions:
Artificial Intelligence’s applications in building may become nearly endless as time goes on. With one of the largest consumer bases and a market worth billions of dollars, the addition of artificial intelligence to the civil engineering field helps solve many problems in design optimization, parameter estimation and identification, and damage detection in a sector that is still severely under-digitized. We are convinced that the continued use of artificial intelligence in civil engineering will result in a significant transformation in the construction industry.

7) Artificial intelligence helps to alleviate labour shortages:
Construction companies are investing in AI and data science due to labour constraints and a drive to improve the industry’s low productivity. Construction firms are beginning to employ artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to better arrange the distribution of manpower and equipment across jobs.

Project managers can instantly know which job sites have enough people and equipment to complete the project on time, and which are falling behind and might use additional personnel, thanks to a robot that is continually analysing job progress and the placement of workers and equipment.

8) AI in Off-site construction:
Off-site workshops staffed by autonomous robots are increasingly being used by construction businesses to piece together building components, which are subsequently patched together on-site by human workers. Walls, for example, can be built more effectively on an assembly line by autonomous machinery than by humans, leaving human workers to handle the specific work such as plumbing, HVAC, and electrical systems once the building is put together.

9) AI for post construction:
Building managers can employ AI even after the project is finished. Advanced analytics and AI-powered algorithms offer useful insights into the operation and performance of a building, bridge, roads, and nearly anything in the built environment by gathering information about a structure using sensors, drones, and other wireless technologies. As a result, AI can be used to track developing issues, identify when preventative maintenance is required, and even direct human behaviour for maximum security and safety.

Shortcomings of AI:
Technology advancements have unquestionably made living easier. The construction industry, which had hitherto been immune to software intrusion, is suddenly changing. More advancement in artificial intelligence and machine learning concepts are expected in the following years! Technological breakthroughs are accompanied by an increase in cost. In the realm of building, artificial intelligence application necessitates periodic software upgrades.

A lack of job prospects for people is also a consequence of technology invasion. Artificial intelligence allows for the better replacement of manpower with robotic functions. Construction jobs are on the decline, and the present workforce will continue to be impacted.

Even though artificial intelligence has proven to be effective in reducing potential risks on the job, it has one major drawback: it can only execute the activities that it has been trained to accomplish. Trained manual employees, on the other hand, can use their brains to complete jobs by thinking outside the box. Complex algorithms relevant to the construction industry demand highly skilled employees and a significant amount of time to implement.

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Kanwarjot Singh

Kanwarjot Singh is the founder of Civil Engineering Portal, a leading civil engineering website which has been awarded as the best online publication by CIDC. He did his BE civil from Thapar University, Patiala and has been working on this website with his team of Civil Engineers.

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