Behind the curve: Construction and AI
Despite being worth $10 trillion annually, the construction and engineering industry is falling behind in terms of digitization, a recent report has found. In the Artificial intelligence: Construction technology’s next frontier from McKinsey, an analysis of the data from the construction sector reveals only a modest shift towards technical solutions, compared with other leading industries.
Although construction has seen numerous increases in software and tech solutions, especially since the global pandemic, the sector has doggedly hung on to far more traditional styles and systems of project management and execution. But, the report suggests, a change is coming, and construction will be forced to enter a new, digital age.
Recent data suggests that because so many business partners of the construction industry have entered a new, digitized era, by association, the construction sector will be forced to play catch-up.
Areas where construction can apply a technical solution are numerous. The study points to start-ups that are already applying AI tech to improve performance and efficiency. The areas of greatest success are:
- Project planning, assisted by project schedule optimizer
- Site management surveillance using image recognition to identify unsafe worker behaviour and site practices, to improve training and employee education
- Data analytics systems that collect and analyze information which forecasts maintenance issues, cost-cutting opportunities and downtime prevention
However, adoption of AI systems remains low, despite the positive uptake of new businesses using the technology. Another challenge is that AI relies on experience and past learning to forecast helpful outcomes. And because it is new to the construction industry, there is a lack of ‘critical mass data’, which will only improve as the industry develops and turns increasingly towards AI solutions.
Five apps transferable from other industries
There are applications that are used in other industries that could assist the construction industry in its transition to AI solutions. These are;
- Transportation route optimization currently used by transport companies
- Outcome prediction applications that are used in the pharmacy industry
- Retail supply tech which assists in inventory management
- Image recognition used in healthcare to carry out risk assessments
- Machine-learning algorithms
But ultimately, before swifter progress can be made, the report points out that construction companies will need to reverse their current trend for under-investing in AI. They will also need to focus on hiring experts with technical backgrounds and implementing and integrating new software platforms to bring them up to date with other, leading industries.
Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone to invest RMB30 billion in five years
Chengdu is upping the hi-tech stakes after unveiling six projects and pledging to invest RMB30 billion in building 50 R&D institutions in the next five years.
The six projects comprise Chengdu Minshan Hydrogen Energy and Carbon Neutralization Technology Research Institute; Chengdu Minshan Integrated Positioning and Navigation Timing Technology Research Institute; Chengdu Minshan Power Semiconductor Technology Research Institute; Chengdu Minshan Microelectronics Advanced Enclosure Technology Research Institute; Chengdu Minshan Cell Engineering Technology Research Institute; and Chengdu Minshan West China Medical Surgery Robotics Research Institute. They will be backed by RMB450 million in funding.
The number of enterprises on the science and technology innovation board is also regarded as one of the important indicators of regional science and technology innovation strength. Since this year, enterprises in Chengdu Hi-tech Zone, such as Olymvax Biopharmaceuticals Inc., GIMI and Zongheng Stock, have successively landed on the science and technology innovation board. So far, there are 45 enterprises listed and passing reviews in Chengdu Hi-tech Zone, including 5 listed companies on the science and technology innovation board.
Centering on the three leading industries of electronic information, biomedicine and new economy, Chengdu High-tech Zone has attracted 128 Fortune 500 companies such as Intel and BOE, and introduced 11 ten-billion-yuan projects last year, involving companies such as Tencent, Baidu, and ByteDance.
In recent years, the zone has introduced six Nobel Prize winners, 20 academicians, and 328 national high-level talents, and nearly 150,000 enterprises from different industries have set up a presence, including more than 56,000 tech companies.
Chengdu High-tech Industrial Development Zone was set up in 1988, and in 1991, was approved as one of the first national high-tech zones. In 2006, it was listed as a pilot zone by the Ministry of Science and Technology and in 2015, approved by the State Council as the first national independent innovation demonstration zone in West China, according to China Briefing.
In February, Chris van Duijn was selected, alongside GMP, as the winner of the Chengdu Future Science and Technology City Launch Area Masterplan and Architecture Design Competition (click here). The 4.6sq km masterplan, designed for the innovation industry in collaboration with CAUPD and Swooding, has been conceived as a pilot project to drive the development of the city around the new airport east of Chengdu.
OMA and GMP will develop the first phase of the overall masterplan, which will include an International Educational Park in the west led by OMA, and a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) in the southeast led by GMP.
NYSE-listed Xinyuan Real Estate Co. recently announced completion of five newly constructed properties, including Chengdu Xinyuan City.
Located in Shu Du New Town in the Pi Du District, Xinyuan City is surrounded by natural resources and offers various commercial facilities and leisure amenities, and is near the Medi River, Municipal Park, Knowledge Park, Cuckoo Park, and Chuangzhi Park.
A massive replica of the sunken ocean liner is now under construction in Daying County in Sichuan province, around 130kms from Chengdu, according to CNN Travel. Dubbed 'The Unsinkable Titanic', the ship is the exact same size as the original, 269.06 meters (882 feet) in length and 28.19 meters (92 feet) wide.
Chengdu, located in south-west China with a population of 20 million, is the seventh wealthiest city in China.