Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the most significant technological advancements of the 21st century and has made a powerful impact on a number of industries including healthcare, finance, and transportation.
One industry that has been slower to adopt AI is construction. Known for being traditional and relying on disparate systems and paper-based processes, it’s perhaps natural that our industry is slower to adapt to the rise of AI.
Using AI-powered project management tools, capital owners can efficiently analyze and optimize vast amounts of real-time data collected from a multitude of sources such as hardware including sensors, drones, and cameras — to software solutions such as Program Management Information Systems (PMIS) and digital twins. By leveraging this data, we can enhance every aspect of a capital project such as performance, safety, and collaboration to unlock its fullest potential.
AI has transformed performance reporting for capital owners by providing a holistic view of activity and valuable insights that may not be immediately apparent. In large-scale capital programs there are numerous risks and uncertainties such as delays in procurement, labor shortages, and schedule and cost overruns. Traditional risk management approaches typically identify potential risks and then develop mitigation strategies to address them.
This can be a time-consuming and resource-intensive process, and it may not be possible to anticipate all potential risks. By implementing AI to analyze large volumes of data from similar past projects, capital owners can pinpoint high-risk areas that require additional monitoring and mitigation measures or identify low-risk areas where resources can be allocated more efficiently. Additionally, it can generate predictive analytics that enable stakeholders to forecast project outcomes based on different scenarios, empowering them to make decisions backed by data.
Using AI, we can also analyze historical data to identify patterns and trends to develop strategies that select the best resources, methods, and technologies for future projects. This advantage has been realized in a significant aviation project in which Parsons experts created the Construction Operations Management Support System (COMMS), an AI platform that extracts insights from past projects to produce quick and accurate cost estimates for current and future construction projects.
Utilizing natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML), this system skillfully examines scopes of work and other pertinent details, analyzing factors that influence project costs. It accelerates cost estimation for various scenarios, facilitating data-driven decision making for stakeholders.
One of the most compelling benefits of AI in construction is its ability to improve safety. By predicting potential hazards, it can provide real-time alerts and notifications to workers and supervisors when unsafe conditions are detected, such as potential falls, collisions, and electrocution. It can also monitor equipment and machinery for possible malfunctions or maintenance needs, reducing the risk of equipment-related accidents.
By analyzing field worker behavior, AI provides feedback to workers and supervisors on safety practices, helping to reinforce safe habits. If a worker is not wearing the correct personal protective equipment (PPE), AI can send an automated alert to the worker's device reminding them to put on the necessary gear. When using these AI capabilities, capital project owners create a safer work environment, promote worker productivity and morale, and ultimately reduce costs associated with accidents and injuries.
Data silos and ineffective collaboration are significant challenges for construction, as stakeholders work in isolation while using disparate software systems. AI-enabled collaboration tools, like a PMIS or “single pane of glass” solution such as Parsons’ asset data information management platform, Paradim®, improve communication, reduce the risk of errors, help project teams manage progress more effectively and automate routine tasks like data entry and reporting, freeing teams to focus on more critical items, saving time and resources.
The Gordie Howe International Bridge project team revolutionized their project collaboration by incorporating AI-enabled tools into their PMIS, simplifying the management of the project’s four distinct components: the Michigan Interchanges, the U.S. and Canadian Ports of Entry, and the bridge itself. Each component is managed as a project-within-project with their own set of construction drawings. These drawings are released in packages in which different sheets and revisions can be combined into single PDF files.
To optimize the management of the drawing package revisions, Parsons X PMIS experts developed two AI tools, the PDF Splitter and Re-Assembler. The PDF splitter is an automated script that reads and processes all available drawing packages, splits each page of the PDF into individual files, uses extraction logic to identify the sheet number and revisions, and saves the file with a unique identifier. The Re-Assembler tool enables the end user to easily export the latest versions or manually select desired revisions for each sheet to merge them into a single PDF file or display the revisions in a matrix form. With AI, the project team can effectively manage construction plan revisions and streamline the construction process, saving time and reducing errors.
As the construction industry continues to adopt AI, we are committed to staying at the forefront of these advancements, helping clients to stay ahead of the curve and achieve their goals. Our team of experts work with project owners to identify areas where AI can be most effective and develop customized solutions that meet their specific needs to deliver smarter, safer, and more resilient infrastructure.
Rob McCarthy is vice president and program manager of large capital projects at Parsons, Corp.