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How companies are achieving advanced BIM with AI

Screen (4)25 October 2018

How combining the power of BIM with artificial intelligence will help you win more projects and reduce your company's risk of being left behind

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are slowly infiltrating the architecture, engineering and construction sectors. Kreo Software, a London-based start-up offering AI-powered BIM software, sees Building Information Modelling in pre-construction planning and design as the next big opportunity for disruption in the industry.

BIM is no longer an option for architecture, engineering & construction (AEC). Companies that do not currently use BIM will slowly disappear. Correctly using BIM will save companies time, money and frustration in the long run – especially in the pre-construction planning stages. For example, an incredible nine out of ten megaprojects currently go over budget, according to Bent Flyvbjerg. Implementing BIM helps companies predict the budget they will need more accurately, even at the tendering stage, allowing them to reach the goals they set themselves.

What does advanced BIM mean?

BIM level 2 is now mandated in the UK for any government work; the standard will likely increase to level 3 next year. This has forced the construction industry to improve its standards across the board, as it recognises the potential of BIM to finally increase its low profit margins. BIM levels, however, do not tell the full story. In practice, AEC professionals often lack the time or resources needed to exercise their extensive training on BIM projects. 

Companies working with Kreo's AI are finally able to achieve advanced BIM because it automates their routine work. Currently, human experts take so long to make basic estimations, they can only take on one or two scenarios at a time. Architects struggle to design more than one model at a time under tight deadlines. AI can run multiple calculations simultaneously, allowing experts to spend time on optimisation and feasibility studies.

Advantages of AI

In a Kreo survey of over 200 AEC professionals, 70% said it took longer than four weeks to prepare a bid. By speeding up the entire process, AI will solve this challenge, enabling companies to participate in more tenders and select projects more carefully. 

By freeing up experts’ time and relieving them of repetitive tasks, everyone will benefit. It takes weeks if not months to calculate multiple “what-if” scenarios. AI allows companies to gather reams of data impossible for humans to get in the same amount of time. It gives AEC professionals the chance to work at scale. 

Human error

As machine learning is trained by human experts, we cannot say AI eliminates human error. However, when faced with multiple repetitive tasks to complete in a short time frame, AI at least reduces the risk of human error. AI does not get tired or make typos. It will not make a different judgement on an optimised schedule based on its personal experience.

Learning from many more projects than a human could ever work on, and having the additional training of multiple human experts over time, creates a huge advantage. AI can make predictions and generate basic models more accurately than ever before. 

Limitations of AI

Although we can rely on AI to make good assumptions based on the knowledge of hundreds of projects, there are always exceptions on every project. This means that AEC professionals must continue to understand and experience BIM.

Another aspect that AI cannot take on is true innovation – only humans can imagine a completely new design or scenario. AI will always enhance BIM models but only human experts can do anything useful with the information. Only humans can make the final judgement on a project's quality. Machines are also unable to make decisions based on the specific needs of that particular project.

Companies currently working with AI in BIM are only able to do so because they have already embraced the advantages that BIM can offer them and the entire construction industry. As Kreo outlines in several blogs on the topic, AEC professionals who take full advantage of this now will get far ahead of their competitors in rapid times of change.