Figure 4: The data from AI about hoist utilization
Figure 2: The loss of workforce by hoist waiting time
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been paid great attention from all the industry as a key technology to improve productivity. Regarding the construction industry, the application and the research are still limited. Columbia University researchers, led by Dr. Ibrahim Odeh evaluated the AI technology as a method to understand the construction project site and how the AI technology support effectively the decision making in the construction project. The project was a collaboration with indus. ai, which is a start-up applying AI solution to the construction industry, to solve the actual construction site problem in a high-rise construction project in New York Manhattan area.
In this project, as well as the other high-rise construction, the vertical transportation using the hoist is one of the bottlenecks to transport materials, equipment, and labors, which prevent the productivity improvement. The preliminary manual survey illustrates the huge waiting time in the morning commuting time at the ground floor; the optimization of hoist operation and understanding the hoist demand in each working floor have potential to reduce the loss of workforce.
Figure 3: Image recognition by AI
Figure 1: Congestion on the ground floor
Based on the preliminary survey, our research team started from the monitoring of one hoist utilization by installing a camera inside the hoist. The dome-type camera was installed at the ceiling of the hoist and counted each hoist operation including the time of arrival and departure at each floor, floor number, and the number of workers in and out at each floor. AI technology achieved to quantify the hoist utilization data after solving some challenges about stable data collection and image recognition. Our team calculated the potential reduction of loss of workforce by hoist waiting in the morning, which shows about 47% of the total loss of the workforce.
The management of the construction site is so complex because of the huge number of working units; each working unit has an impact on each other. To improve the productivity in the construction site, close communication between stakeholders such as technology provider and the general contractor is important. Based on the AI application to the hoist utilization, our research team moved on to the next step to quantify all the hoist utilization and the waiting time. The quantification of the construction site by AI technology definitely will be the key tool to change the construction management and improve productivity.