3 trends in AI and technology impacting the building sector

by | Dec 8, 2020 | Building industry technology

The building industry is still an emerging market for artificial intelligence, yet potential is ripe to reduce inefficiencies and improve outcomes for all.

Code compliance at the click of a button

Code compliance is oftentimes a laborious process requiring a long list of items to check against a code language that is often intentionally ambiguous. Adding further complexity is the innumerable legislative amendments and differing local requirements.

But what if, instead of manually reviewing drawing sets, a BCA consultant, certifier or architect could click a button to generate a code compliance report automatically? Several software start-ups are aiming to do just this, leveraging the increasing amount of building data available through building information modeling (BIM) software to automate and streamline the code review process. Imagine – fast, accurate compliance reports.

This trend is not without its challenges:

  • Automation requires rigor by architects to consistently categorise elements within the digital building model so that the software recognises it correctly.
  • Building codes are often intentionally vague to allow for performance-based solutions that meet the code’s intent, but maybe not the letter of the code.
  • The constant evolution of building codes means that software companies will need to keep up to speed to stay relevant.

Augmented reality for construction sites

Augmented reality, unlike virtual reality which creates a totally unreal environment, includes virtual elements that interact with the existing environment.

Augmented reality can draw from virtual architectural designs and apply these to the physicality of a construction site, enabling greater accuracy and efficiency. This also reduces errors and wasted time, money and resources through rework.

Augmented reality applications give a more accurate view of what will be built, with 3D plans and virtual model holograms making it easier to understand layers of materials and installations that are often too complex to properly comprehend through drawings alone.

To use augmented reality properly, you need a device, typically glasses. Microsoft HoloLens has offered a cost-competitive product which is also certified as basic protection glasses, while the company DAQRI has developed a safety helmet integrated into the glasses, specifically for building professionals.

Planning and designing through 4D

New design and modeling technology is making it easier for users to design buildings and internal components in 3D. Not only that, but this BIM software (commonly termed 4D BIM) enables users to link time- or schedule-related information to individual components in the 3D model.

This technology targets the considerable stress and time of managing the work schedule and timing of respective teams in architecture, structural engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and plumbing. It also ensures that the different models from each team interlace without clashes that could bring additional costs and waste.

This technology identifies and reduces clashes between the different models by individual teams in the planning and design phase, rather than finding clashes during construction.

Generative design is when the 4D BIM software uses machine learning to examines all possible modifications of a solution, quickly generating design alternatives, which are then tested and learnt from with each iteration.

3D models of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems are made which simultaneously ensure that the entire routes for mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering systems do not clash with the building architecture.

Becoming future-focused

The Australian building industry has been rocked by innumerable legislative and procedural changes, particularly this last year. Developments in AI and technology give all of us a massive opportunity towards continuous improvement. The future awaits.

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