How the Construction Industry Needs to Adapt to Survive the COVID-19 Pandemic

As thousands of health professionals heroically battle COVID-19, construction leaders are being forced to chart a path towards keeping employees, contractors and end users safe. The answer to staying afloat and ahead during and, in the hopeful near future, post-pandemic can be solved by adapting to new technology and artificial intelligent solutions. Pre-pandemic, the engineering and construction (E &C) sector, although worth billions of dollars, was already behind in adopting artificial intelligent solutions.

Adopting to the latest technology can seem intimidating for companies, but machine learning and artificial intelligence are leading the way to higher efficiency, lower costs and safer job sites globally.

Artificial intelligence can be defined as a combined term describing when a machine mimics human cognitive functions, like problem-solving, pattern recognition and learning. According to McKinsey’s 2018 research, there was a growing focus from key construction players on technological solutions in the E & C sector that incorporated AI-powered algorithms. Fast forward to 2020 and beyond, the E & C sector is now being forced to adapt or shutdown.

Advancements include using autonomous machinery, using Artificial Neural Networks to predict cost overruns on projects, utilizing algorithms that scan construction site photos to highlight potential safety hazards for workers and a lot more opportunities of using AI throughout the construction value chain. However, how does a company successfully prepare and take advantage of AI today?

GAST has been at the forefront of technology and innovative solutions in the E & C sector for 60 years and has provided insights on how to take advantage of AI in order to adapt to the new digital-driven landscape.

1. Welcome Change

The first step is to welcome change and new solutions to old problems. The mindset of the whole company needs to adapt to new technologies in order to stay ahead. This includes a detailed internal communication strategy to instill the vision and reason for the new approach of the company in every employee going forward.

2. Identify your AI Strategy

Pin down the key use cases where your company can adopt new technologies and rank them in priority, effectiveness and timeline. Simultaneously, build the base of your AI with data science knowledge and the correct expertise you will need to execute the AI tools. Here you need to make sure you have a comprehensive data and IT strategy that falls within your AI strategy, which enables the correct capabilities and support for your chosen AI tools.

3. Jump onto the Quick Wins

In order to create positive momentum, implement the AI projects identified in Step 2 that can be quickly and easily executed that still fits into your overall AI strategy. The aim is to make sure all your AI applications work together, so make sure you carefully select your supplier and AI tools to ensure a seamless integration.

4. Get ready to Accelerate

In this step it’s time to accelerate your AI strategy and be ambitious in your approach. This requires moving towards developing in house algorithms specific to your company and industry in order to really gain a competitive advantage. This requires having a more people-centered approach which includes change management, training and strong communications within the company. In this step, it will be beneficial to investigate allocating a department of various talents dedicated to AI solutions and accelerated implementation.

5. See the Bigger Picture

In this step it’s time to scale up and role out your AI activities across the entire company. With every new roll-out, start with the quick wins then scale up. This is also the time to release more control of operations to your AI as it develops into its full potential.

Amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic, many construction players are being forced to digitalize and use technology to ensure they can operate dynamically in the landscape the pandemic has created. Not only is AI the way of the future, there is a sense of urgency to it.

By using the above 5-steps to incorporate artificial intelligent solutions, the construction industry will be able to adapt, survive and propel themselves for a sustained future.

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