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Smart Construction: How AI and Machine Learning Will Change the Construction Industry

These days, seemingly everyone is applying Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning. I have written about disruptions in the manufacturing industry, such as Industry 4.0, while illustrating the Hard Trends that indicate where improvements will be made in the future.

The construction industry, which makes up 7% of the global workforce, should already have applied these technologies to improve productivity and revolutionize the industry. However, it has actually progressed quite slowly.

Growth in the construction industry has only been 1% over a few decades while manufacturing is growing at a rate of 3.6%. With the total worker output in construction at a standstill, it is no surprise that the areas where machine learning and AI could improve such statistics were minimal. Yet, those technologies are finally starting to emerge in the industry.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is when a computer mimics specific attributes of human cognitive function, while machine learning gives the computer the ability to learn from data, as opposed to being specifically programmed by a human. Here are ten ways that AI and machine learning will transform the construction and engineering industries into what we’ll call “smart construction.”

  1. Cost Overrun Prevention and Improvement

Even efficient construction teams are plagued by cost overruns on larger-scale projects. AI can utilize machine learning to better schedule realistic timelines from the start, learning from data such as project or contract type, and implement elements of real-time training in order to enhance skills and improve team leadership.

  1. Generative Design for Better Design

When a building is constructed, the sequence of architectural, engineering, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing tasks must be accounted for in order to prevent these specific teams from stepping out of sequence or clashing. Generative design is accomplished through a process called “building information modeling.” Construction companies can utilize generative design to plot out alternative designs and processes, preventing rework.

  1. Risk Mitigation

The construction process involves risk, including quality and safety risks. AI machine learning programs process large amounts of data, including the size of the project, to identify the size of each risk and help the project team pay closer attention to bigger risk factors.

  1. More Productive Project Planning

A recent startup utilized 3D scanning, AI and neural networks to scan a project site and determine the progress of specific sub-projects in order to prevent late and over-budget work. This approach allowed management to jump in and solve problems before they got out of control. Similarly, “reinforcement learning” (machine learning based on trial and error) can help to collate small issues and improve the preparation phase of project planning.

  1. More Productive Job Sites

Professionals often fear machines will replace them. While intelligent machines will take over first repetitive and eventually more cognitively complex positions, this does not mean a lack of jobs for people. Instead, workers will transition to new, more fulfilling and highly productive roles to save time and stay on budget, and AI will monitor human productivity on job sites to provide real-time guidance on improving each operation.

  1. Safety First

Manual labor not only has the potential to be taxing on the body, but also to be incredibly dangerous. Presently, a general contractor is developing an algorithm that analyzes safety hazards seen in imagery taken from a job site, making it possible to hold safety briefings to eliminate elevated danger and improve overall safety on construction sites.

  1. Addressing Job Shortages

AI and machine learning have the capacity to plot out accurate distribution of labor and machinery across different job sites, again preventing budget overruns. One evaluation might reveal where a construction site has adequate coverage while another reveals where it is short staffed, thereby allowing for an efficient and cost-effective repositioning of workers.

  1. Remote Construction

When structures can be partially assembled off-site and then completed on-site, construction goes faster. The concept of using advanced robots and AI to accomplish this remote assembly is new. Assembly line production of something like a wall can be completed while the human workforce focuses on the finish work.

  1. Construction Sites as Data Sources

The data gathered from construction sites and the digital lessons learned by AI and advanced machines are all tools for improving the productivity of the next project. In this way, each construction site can contribute to a virtual textbook of information helpful to the entire industry.

  1. The Finishing Touches

Structures are always settling and shifting slightly. It would be beneficial to be able to dive back into data collated by a computer to track in real time the changes and potential problems faced by a structure — and AI and machine learning make this possible.

Given the inevitable changes on the horizon, and the potential for costs to drop up to 20% or more with increased productivity, professionals in the construction industry must pay attention to Hard Trends, become more anticipatory, and ultimately learn to turn disruption and change into opportunity and advantage.

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Negotiator – How To Be Smarter About Risk Assessment

“To abate risks better, deal with those that pose the greatest threat to your goals first.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert

What do you consider when thinking of risk assessment? Do you think about the impact that your past will have on it? Do you consider the same about the person you’ll be negotiating against? There is a multitude of things to consider. Doing so before the negotiation will make you a smarter negotiator. Before your next negotiation, mull over the following insights when pondering how to be smarter about risk assessment.

Gains versus Losses:

Sometimes, people become caught up in the moment. They forget to weigh their potential gains against their potential losses. Losing track of such mindfulness can leave you wondering why you engaged in such folly, once you’ve returned to a clear state of mind.

When assessing risk, know what you’re assessing as it relates to your larger goal. Don’t place yourself in a position where you make a tradeoff or offer, get it, and then discover that there’s an unintended cost for the acquisition. If a request is too costly, it may behoove you not to enter the bidding. A risk matrix can assist in that avoidance.

Risk Matrix:

You can use a risk matrix chart to assess the probability of an outcome in a negotiation. That will help you uncover any hidden risks that you may not have considered. Based on what you know of the other negotiator, you can assess the probability of how he’ll act/react to certain offers and counteroffers. Thus, you might have your offers and potential counteroffers plotted on one scale and markers denoting the probability that he’ll respond in a certain way on the other (e.g. strong possibility, likely, maybe, low probability, not likely). Then, weight each category (e.g. 85-100%, 65-85%, 45-65%, 25-45%, 0-25%, respectively). Of course, your risk matrix will only be valid to the degree your assessment of the other negotiator is accurate. If it’s not you’ll have garbage in, garbage out.


  • Lead/Led – Ask the other negotiator for his thoughts and inputs on matters that you’re unsure about his thoughts. By obtaining his thoughts you’ll gain insight into how he’s thinking. The bonus of that will be of him having the appearance that he’s leading the negotiation. That will also assist your efforts in decreasing the risk that the negotiation might go into unseen and unsuspected areas.


  • Offers – Don’t make offers that would demean or insight the other negotiator. You don’t have to tread so gently that he begins to press you on issues. instead, find the balance between the point of leading and following and know when to commit to either.


  • Anger – When thinking of the strategies you’ll employ in the negotiation be leery of using anger. There are potential hidden risks involved when you anger someone. They can become unpredictable, which means not only would you demean the validity of your risk matrix, you might do irrevocable harm to the negotiation.


Suffice it to say, the fewer variables you can account for when negotiating the stronger your negotiation position will be. That will lead you to be smarter about risk assessment … and everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d really like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com 

To receive Greg’s free “Negotiation Tip of the Week” and the “Sunday Negotiation Insight” click here http://www.TheMasterNegotiator.com/greg-williams/

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