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After taking a heavy hit from a pandemic-ravaged economy, the global construction industry has come back strong. On the commercial side, while demand for new office space remains sluggish, retailers are investing significant capital in logistics infrastructure, such as warehouses. On the residential side, the segment continues to create jobs thanks to the real estate boom – recovering more than 80% of the jobs lost during the pandemic in March 2021.
The industry, however, faces a new set of challenges, including the rising cost of raw materials. Project management remains one of the most difficult aspects of construction, with recent studies finding that construction projects go over budget by at least 16% (and often much more). Beyond budget, project managers struggle with ill-defined goals, poor time management, labor shortages, and unrealistic stakeholder expectations. A study of the construction industry in Saudi Arabia found that 70% of projects took longer than expected to be completed.
Longstanding problems in managing construction projects have spawned a cottage industry of vendors promising to ease the strain with software. One is StructionSite, an Oakland, Calif.-based platform that leverages AI to provide insight into the status of work being done on construction sites. Drawing on algorithms and applications, StructionSite can automatically create and map 360-degree videos to project drawings, translating the videos into regular updates of installed work.
“The idea behind StructionSite came from trying to solve our own problems while working in construction, so we designed and built our products to stand out from anyone currently in the industry,” said CEO and co-founder Matt Daly to VentureBeat via email. “We are opening the door to the opportunity for standardization on a single platform that others in the industry are not yet able to provide.”
AI for construction
With the market for AI in construction expected to reach $2.12 billion by 2023, a number of companies are developing products that apply computer vision, natural language processing and other algorithmic techniques to various aspects of the construction process. Avvir’s AI system monitors construction project errors, while Swapp provides AI-powered software to automate construction planning. Gryps offers robotic process automation software focused on paperwork inefficiencies in construction. Meanwhile, SiteAware tracks construction zones using “digital twins.”
StructionSite’s product is similar to OnSiteIQ, Indus.ai, Disperse, and OnSpace, all of which track construction site progress using a combination of photos, project plans, and machine learning algorithms. But StructionSite – whose software automatically organizes photos and videos by location and date, comparing amounts of work in place to estimates and labor expended – claims to be the most “open” platform in the world. space with integration partners like Procore, Lazio Autodesk, NewMetrix, Dropbox and Box.
“We had to create a custom 3D computer vision engine for the types of 360-degree images taken by the cameras we support,” Daly explained. “In addition to the raw 360 degree videos, we also incorporate data from on-board sensors in the camera and phone to get a more accurate view of a user’s path on the jobsite. Recently, we’ve also added machine learning pipelines to overlay predictive modeling and pattern matching against previous walks and similar images for even faster and more accurate rendering. [data]. Because this system learns data over time, it continues to improve for customers the longer they use StructionSite. Our image processing pipeline also allows us to create a dense map of the scene, which is useful for customers in various contexts, such as comparing against BOM models or tracking construction project progress. over time.
ConstructionSite was founded in 2016 by Daly, Dan Zito and Philip Lorenzo. The two met in 2012, when Lorenzo worked as a project engineer at a large general contractor and Daly was an account manager at imaging device company Faro Technologies. To date, Daly says more than 400 contractors have used StructionSite’s technology to capture more than $190 billion in “construction volume” and tripled the number of active projects on the platform year-on-year. the other.
Despite the growth of software like StructionSite, however, analysts say the construction industry hasn’t embraced AI with the same enthusiasm as other industries. A 2018 report from McKinsey noted that few construction companies or owners currently have the capabilities – including people, processes, and tools – to implement AI solutions. Of the 12 industries mentioned in the report, nine rank above construction in the percentage of companies integrating AI into their operations.
But Daly thinks that will change once the benefits of the technology are clear.
“Our technology enables an entirely new type of remote work that allows construction professionals to ‘work on a project’ from their home or central location using StructionSite’s image and video capture to ‘virtually walk through construction site “of their computer”, Daly continued. “The pandemic has forced the construction industry, which has generally been slow to adopt technology, to really rethink its project management strategy and how it can be done with fewer people on site to reduce exposure. to COVID-19. What many of our customers realized when their workforce had to be mostly remote is that they were much more productive than expected, remote working can work for certain roles in construction and can in fact be incredibly productive for a large subset of unnecessary tasks. t require a physical presence on the site.
In a vote of confidence, approximately 75 StructionSite employees raised $10 million from Global 500 backers, a strategic investment from PCL Construction, GS Futures and existing investors, the startup announced today. The infusion brings StructionSite’s total capital raised to $20 million to date.
“In 2021, we nearly doubled the size of our business, adding all-new teams like the data team, which has already uncovered incredible insights into travel savings and lower carbon emissions,” said Dally. “The funds will be used to expand StructionSite’s platform capabilities and expand our market-leading position.”
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