Is AI digging a grave or the new foundations for your job?

At Kreo, when we demonstrate what artificial intelligence (AI) can do for pre-construction planning, we sometimes get nervous reactions. “If Kreo can automate building design, bills of quantities, cost estimating and Gantt charts – what’s left for me to do? Am I at risk of losing my job?”

The short answer is – no, you will not lose your job! AI will improve construction jobs and increase room for creativity. Executives in companies around the world are increasingly looking to AI to create new sources of business value. This is especially true for the leading adopters — those that have invested in AI initiatives and already seen impressive results. 

Technology means opportunity

Finger pointing at tablet making building designs appearThroughout history, people have tried to make their work easier and improve output. In ancient times, the most critical problem was to deal with physical work. People toiled day and night to invent tools to make their work more feasible. Simple tools were invented at first, then over time they became more and more sophisticated. New technologies and machines came into our lives over time. And with every new technology came new opportunities. 

The industrial revolution transformed the way we do engineering and construction. Did this mean that groundsmen were shown the door by excavators and starved to death? It didn’t. Former groundsmen gained the opportunity to reduce their physical efforts. They could instead spend more time developing their skills as highly qualified excavator operators. Ask any of these operators if they’d like to go back to manual digging! There are now thousands of jobs more than there were before, thanks to progress in technology.

Your job in construction

Closeup of young man in glasses with beard making blueprints on computerToday, many of us sit in comfortable offices and work on sophisticated digital projects. But is your job as interesting and creative as it could be? Calculating quantities for a construction project is of course an important and valuable job. But do you ever ask about the significance of some aspects of your work? 

Some of our team here at Kreo have worked as cost estimators and quantity surveyors for many years. They recall two key aspects to those jobs:

  1. Working out quantities and assigning prices from price books
  2. Analysing data, considering different ways to cut costs, comparing to previous project data, predicting changes according to market information

The first step: tedious, time-consuming and repetitive. The second: challenging, mind-consuming and original. It might not to be so bad if we were able to combine these activities at least 50:50. In reality, as we are always pressed for time, we curtail the second step, as we can’t skip the first. This means we miss out on opportunities for creative insight on our projects.

Improve construction planning

Every construction project involves numerous blueprints, bills of quantities and cost estimates. But still, most projects finish over budget and run beyond schedule. Why so? Are quantity surveyors, cost estimators and planners not doing their jobs properly? Are they inexperienced or under-skilled? Not at all — the average cost engineer is hard-working and skilled, with several years of experience behind them. They simply lack the time to analyse all the data conscientiously, patiently and thoughtfully. Not to mention that when we have been doing the same thing for years. It can be difficult to stop using templates and attempt instead to solve hidden issues. 

In short, construction professionals continue to dig trenches manually - only they are at the computer. 

The Intellectual Revolution

image depicting half machine brain half human brain

Thanks to machine learning we are on the verge of another revolution — the Intellectual Revolution. Over time there will be more and more improvements that are not just about replacing physical work with machinery. These improvements are dedicated to reducing monotonous work and highlighting or preventing mistakes made by humans.

Take, for example, when you write an email. You are the master of the content, while grammar checkers help you to avoid mistakes, and smart suggestions help you to write quickly.

Kreo works in the same way. You are still expected to be the Master of Design, Cost or Schedule, while Kreo does all the donkey work. Kreo helps you to avoid mistakes in calculations and measurements, provides smooth and transparent reports, allows effective collaboration for your team, makes suggestions, and calculates. Meanwhile you analyse, make decisions, improve and approve. 

Currently, you can calculate your project outcomes, but you would rarely be able to spend much time on the best solution. Kreo lets you start thinking about improvements you can make throughout pre-construction planning, as you can simulate different scenarios in seconds. Find out how swapping steel structures to concrete affects the cost and duration in a few minutes. Engineers can make changes in the project — you don’t need to recalculate all the measurements from scratch. Make amendments in your previous bill of quantities and immediately see what effect the changes would have on the cost.  If you are a planner, you can process what-if analyses instantly, instead of manually sequencing activities and estimating their duration.  

Kreo helps you to come to the right conclusions faster in your job. It provides multiple scenarios for you to analyse and choose the most appropriate. If the building was just a little higher, does this mean it would be just a little more expensive? If the skill rate of the subcontractor was a little lower than expected, how much would it increase the project duration? 

To make designs, quantity takeoffs, cost estimates and Gantt charts with Kreo is a rewarding job. You have the power to answer Management’s requests quickly and accurately. You will never again be worried about omissions and mistakes. You will even have enough time to review the results, discuss them with your colleagues and make changes if necessary.

So, to reiterate - you aren’t losing your job, you’re able to do it better! 

What AI can do for productivity

three rocketsAnother point is increasing your productivity. If you can process five projects a year with current tools, it’s likely you can process 20 projects with Kreo, and do so better. Maybe you worry you will run out of projects if you work too fast? That's unlikely — there is plenty of work for construction companies. In the city centre of London alone, huge areas are waiting to be built up and thousands of buildings need to be renovated. 

According to current business models in the construction industry, it is too costly to make a 3D model with all calculations and cost estimates. A lot of projects only start when the owners are 100% sure of the necessity and feasibility of the project. If you could create a 3D model in a day, including all information needed for decision-making, you would find yourself highly in-demand. 

The artificial intelligence era is not a Kreo invention - Kreo is just one of its manifestations. More and more AI tools are about to appear and the earlier you embrace it, the more valued as a professional you will be.      

Embrace full automation. Stop digging. Start thinking. 

The Kreo Software Blog.