Winvic trials AI tech to boost on-site safety
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been around for a number of years now, and numerous companies are adopting the technology in various industries for many reasons. AI has been proven to provide many benefits, from efficiency to safety.
The construction industry has traditionally been one of the world’s most dangerous lines of work, and countless injuries happen on a daily basis at many sites around the world, big and small. Technology is set to change this.
Leading contractor Winvic Construction has been working on an AI-based project which is expected to slash the number of safety hazards found on the construction site, whilst taking action upon ones that are present on site.
The company is making use of smart cameras and powerful software which combine to create real-time images which allow workers and site managers to be altered of any detected dangers in the surrounding area. Global positioning system (GPS) devices are used in order to track the location of hazards and workers.
Some hazards the on site cameras are able to detect include moving heavy machinery, hazards surrounding working at height, in addition to the detection of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Machine learning technologies are incorporated into the clever software which enhances accuracy and usability.
The AI solution has been dubbed as Computer-Vision-SMART, the ‘Computer Vision and IoT for Personalised Site Monitoring Analytics in Real Time’. The project is set to run for two years from now which was funded by Innovate UK.
The technology has also been designed to adapt to the construction site, and will learn to become even smarter over time, according to the developers of the project. Two sites will use the AI solution over the next 24 months.
Any hazards which are found will be alerted to any nearby workers as an alert on their mobile phone or wearable device, such as a smartwatch.
Winvic’s Technical Director, leader of the project, said: “Utilising intelligent digital technologies in construction to deliver projects more rapidly, cost-effectively and safely is a passion of Winvic’s and this forward-thinking health and safety initiative is truly ground-breaking.”
He went on to say: “It’s a privilege to be working with UWE Bristol on a second AI-enabled project, and with One Big Circle also on-board, we have a very dedicated and eager consortium team. There is a clear gap in this area of construction safety, where social and technical efforts can successfully converge, and with the solution that has been conceived will come better opportunities than ever before to reach our zero-harm aim. It’s a very exciting time in the world of digital transformation, and our achievements over the next two years will generate a significant leap forward for safety across the whole of the construction industry.”
In addition, Associate Professor at UWE Bristol, a company working with Winvic on both this and another AI innovation, Olugbenga Akinade, said: “This Computer-Vision-SMART project will enable us at the Big Data Enterprise & Artificial Intelligence Lab to employ our expertise in computer vision and sensor fusion technologies to improve safety on construction sites. The project is pivotal to our strategy to push the frontiers of construction research and to address industrial needs using innovative digital technologies.”
“The Innovate UK Smart grant provides us with a unique partnership opportunity with Winvic and One Big Circle to address a unique gap in the construction industry. We are convinced that Computer-Vision-SMART will deliver a step-change which will enable us to explore the socio-technical overlap of behaviour-based safety on construction sites. The project will further mature our capabilities in delivering high impact research and to establish UWE Bristol as a business-facing university.”
Which countries are leading the adoption of BIM?
Building Information Modelling (BIM) was first used by UK construction firms in the 1980s. Since then an increasing number of countries such as Germany, Austria, and Russia have also started to use it, but which country is leading the way?
According to research by PlanRadar, the UK, as of 2021, remains the leader in BIM implementation in construction when compared with other European nations. However, the company’s research shows that there is clear evidence other countries in close pursuit.
As part of the research into the adoption of BIM, PlanRadar examined government policy documents and conducted interviews to find out why BIM is being deployed in each country. The study also allowed the company to gauge construction professionals’ attitudes to digital technology tools in their industry, as well as explore where fast growth rates in BIM are most likely in the coming years. In addition, it looked at which governments have progressed furthest in making construction BIM mandatory.
PlanRadar says the findings are “a useful follow-up to the recently published Construction Manager BIM annual survey”, which pinpoints distinct barriers to adoption in the UK market.
While Britain has long been considered a pioneer in BIM technology, with projects such as the Heathrow Airport reconstruction, it seems that Russia is catching up. Even though its first BIM projects only appeared in 2014, PlanRadar says that the country “is on a steep upward trajectory”. According to the research, no other European country has adopted so many laws on standardisation and the mandatory implementation of BIM in the construction industry.
“Russia is arguably the most eagle-eyed nation for compliance and harnessing advanced BIM tech to drive efficiencies”, the company said.
Germany’s BIM adoption is also rapidly increasing as its government invests in BIM standardisation, skills training, and support for BIM projects, in line with its vision for the future digitalisation of the German construction sector.
PlanRadar research summary
As part of its research into the adoption of Building Information Modelling, PlanRadar has summarised each country. According to the company, here are the summaries for the UK, Germany, Russia, and France.
- The UK has the highest number of construction companies using BIM at level 2 and beyond.
- It remains the leader in the earliest use and implementation of BIM in construction projects.
- Since 2016 all state-funded projects must use at least BIM level 2, and this has led to a surge in awareness and use of BIM in the last decade. For private projects, BIM usage is advised but not mandatory.
- Currently, only 62% of small businesses in the UK actively use BIM, compared to 80% of large businesses.
- Approximately 70% of German construction companies use BIM at different levels. However, the majority are architects and design companies, making use of BIM in the design phase rather than construction and operation.
- Since 2017, BIM has been mandatory for projects worth over €100 million. And from 31st December 2020, BIM became mandatory for all public contracts relating to the building of federal infrastructure.
- BIM technology is used by very large property developers and construction companies that operate in the largest cities such as Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Ufa, Yekaterinburg.
- When it comes to legislation standardising and mandating BIM, Russia is the clear leader, and today there are 15 national standards (GOSTs) and eight sets of rules for information modelling in the country.
- From March 2022, all government projects are required to use BIM technology, and further legislation is in the pipeline.
- France does not yet have a single BIM standard enshrined in law or regulation, yet 35% of developers in France use BIM for their real estate projects.
- In addition, 50 to 60% of the leaders in the French construction market have switched to BIM, with level 2 as the most common maturity level.
- At the end of 2018, BIM Plan 2022 was launched to encourage construction participants to integrate it into their workflows. Still, construction companies have struggled to agree since there is no single approved BIM standard.
The research report concluded that the adoption of BIM is yet to reach its full potential in Europe. While the UK is currently the leader, countries such as Russia and Germany are evidently forging a clear path and have goals surrounding skills and legal frameworks. PlanRadar says that next year’s European BIM ranking “could paint a very different picture”.