Too good to be true? Or the shape of things to come?
‘Only in America’, the saying goes… But lately Artificial Intelligence seems to be everywhere – usually in the form of artworks, music and ‘literature’ created by the ubiquitous Chat GPT. The construction industry is not usually very concerned about the impact of revolutionary technology – probably because building is a very physical, mechanical, hands-on business. That said, when a US building contractor announces a new tool that can save construction firms around 10,000 hours’ work per year you really do have to pay attention. Even if you cost that out based on the hourly wage of your lowest-paid people, you’re looking at a massive saving – of time, money and effort.
So, what is it? Well, Miami-based firm Coastal Construction has developed AI software capable of ‘reading’ and analysing construction drawings and, using ‘deep machine learning’, formulating quantity reports as the basis for working estimates. It’s called Togal.AI and its creators say that, by using it, their own estimators are saving about 10,000 work hours a year.
The financial saving, therefore, must be impressive. But perhaps more important is the time it gives them in which to use their talents and expertise to greater effect. The company says they have much more time and energy to put into subcontractor relationships, value engineering, reviewing clients’ plans and pricing and identifying new project opportunities.
In recognition of this potentially game-changing innovation, Coastal Construction have won the Grand Prize in the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) Innovation Awards at their Las Vegas convention in March.
At $7000, the prize money pales into insignificance compared to the value of the invention, which must be inestimable even by Togal.AI – but, given the setting, it’s safe to say Coastal Construction could be among the biggest winners in Vegas this year.