Accelerating AI to transform construction |
Thinking big

Accelerating AI to transform construction

Contact image written by John Ambrose, Corporate Narrative Manager, Skanska Group written by John Ambrose, Corporate Narrative Manager, Skanska Group
In this episode of our Shaping Sustainable Places podcast, experts Emma Viklund and Mehdi Nourbakhsh discuss how AI is being used within the construction industry.

Emma is Innovation Lead at Skanska and helps to ensure our different business units share knowledge on new, more efficient techniques. Mehdi is CEO at tech consultancy YegaTech and the author of the book Augment It, How Architecture, Engineering And Construction Leaders Leverage Data And Artificial Intelligence To Build A Sustainable Future.


A slow start but a big future

Emma says the construction sector hasn’t been as fast as some industries in embracing AI for a number of reasons. It’s decentralized and project oriented, the margins tend to be low which can disincentivize investment, and lessons learned on one project are often forgotten by the next.


But things are changing. At Skanska, we have trialed a system where images taken from helmet cams on sites are analyzed by AI to identify unsafe behavior. We also use AI as part of our recruitment processes, and our team members have access to an internal ChatGPT-like tool called Sidekick.


One major challenge that Emma identifies is the need to capture and manage data for AI to analyze. Skanska and other companies are looking for ways of bringing together data collected from a range of sources so that it can be interpreted and its insights put to use. At Skanska we’re looking at areas including analyzing data from smart buildings to design better, more efficient structures. And we’re looking at data from construction machines so we can use them more efficiently and reduce emissions.


AI for bidding and material selection

Mehdi from YegaTech says that, in order to accelerate the use of AI, construction companies need first to learn what the possibilities are and what tools are at their disposal. He points to the example of steel-building-system company ConXtech, which was spending four to six weeks preparing for bids. After implementing an AI solution, it was able to cut bid preparation time to two or three days, greatly boosting efficiency.


Mehdi says AI can also be used to help with material selection for projects. With the right AI solution, architects and engineers can factor in variables such as sustainability, cost, strength, finish and transportability, and more rapidly determine which combinations of steel, concrete and other materials to use. This can help not only lower costs but reduce embedded carbon.


Mehdi says future-focused businesses who want to survive need to be looking at AI now in order to stay ahead of the competition.


You can tune in, listen and subscribe to the podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.