Innovative processes have been used in the co-design of Finland’s new Hospital Nova, using BIM models and involving over 350 staff

As the first completely new hospital to be built in the Central Finland Healthcare District since the 1970s, Hospital Nova aims to be the one of the most modern and efficient hospitals in Europe. With a planned opening in late 2020, the project is an entirely new building type and concept compared to traditional hospitals, with a target to cut traditional operating costs by 10%.

Virtual visits
Due to the ambitious nature of the project, the project team wanted to involve staff in the design of the hospital to ensure it would meet everyone’s needs. “Our objective was to engage hospital staff in the project before construction had even started, by allowing them to visit the building virtually,” explained Mikko Jylhä, Project Director, Hospital Nova, Central Finland Healthcare District. “Right from the early stages we wanted to share the new designs, collaborate with the building’s future users and gather vital feedback for the design process.”

Streamlined BIM workflows
Hospital Nova decided to use Tridify to convert their BIMs into virtual models, as it was quick and easy to update the models with ongoing changes. Tridify’s automated service processed the architect BIM files into 3D interactive models, saving the hospital a lot of time and effort.

The VR solution involved building a hospital demonstration space next to the construction site, for both the staff and the public to visit. Facilities included a virtual space where staff could use VR goggles to explore the future hospital and an auditorium where others could follow the virtual experience on a large screen.

The response from staff was impressive, with over 350 registering to be involved in the design process with many using the virtual model. At the height of its use there were several visitor groups per day, including members of the public interested in seeing what the hospital would look like. In 2019 alone there were over 3000 visitors to the showroom.

Due to its ease of use, Nova’s own project team were able to operate the demonstration space without the help of any external specialists. They were also able Nova Hospital VRto use the Tridify virtual model to create their own videos and images for use in other promotional and educational activities.

Design feedback
Staff have been able to explore the future building using the virtual model and provide feedback in the early design stages. Various different clinical and operational teams were able to make plans for new facilities based on their virtual visits, the model helping people to understand the design and if space was adequate for the planned functions.

“Many different staff groups were involved, ranging from clinical staff, consultants, doctors, nurses and laboratory staff,” explained Jylhä. “Gathering feedback from so many different groups who would be using the building was invaluable in helping shape its design. Changes were made to the architect plans based on feedback. The result being an improved hospital which avoids any expensive alterations once the hospital is complete.”

With construction now in its final stages and a planned opening in late 2020, the virtual model is currently being used by staff to test the hospital signage and ensure the smooth flow of different users around the site. This will allow further cost savings to be made as any changes can easily be done in the design phase. Staff are also becoming familiar with the new premises even before entering the building.

BIM to web publishing
Hospital Nova is now starting to use Tridify to publish the 3D model to mobile devices via the web, to help communicate the design to additional stakeholders. The hospital is also planning on using the virtual model throughout the hospital’s lifecycle in facilities management.

“Using virtual reality for hospital co-design on this scale is rare so we are proud to be at the forefront of such developments, seeing how it can help shape the hospital so it functions as efficiently as possible, for both staff and patients. An efficient design is critical as it helps guarantee the delivery of the best quality and economically efficient healthcare in years to come,” concluded Jylhä.

Tridify has over 30 years’ experience working in VR, focused on developing solutions to automate the delivery of 3D architectural models and improve workflows. Customers include WSP, Skanska, DPA Architects and City of Helsinki. The company has users in over 50 countries.
www.tridify.com

How to deliver an AI transformation strategy in a Covid-19 construction world. By John Spooner

As the Covid-19 situation unravels, its impact on the global construction industry appears formidable. The industry is predicted to experience difficulties with material supply chain disruption, labor shortages and the city-wide shutdown of construction sites.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are key technology pillars to enable the industry to address future uncertainty, as the re-emergence of AI led transformation projects promises to reduce cost and drive productivity, post Covid, but challenges remain.

The uptake of Artificial Intelligence
AI has evolved from being the latest technology buzzword, to a commercial reality. Whilst many global organizations are already building AI-led applications, only the most progressive construction firms are grabbing the AI mantle. Whilst adopting the latest technology can be daunting, AI and ML have short- and long-term business value for the construction industry.

Amidst the AI hype, progressive business leaders are looking to embrace innovation, even now, and develop a AI transformation strategy, but challenges remain.

Talent comes first, as firms need to hire, train, and bring on board the right team skills. Time is second, as it’s important to assess how fast you can achieve js1business results with the AI strategy. The final challenge is Trust, as in an increasingly uncertain and data-cynical world, keeping regulators and broader stakeholders on-side is key. So, what’s next?

Building a data driven culture
To effectively use the volume of business data generated to support workstreams, companies need to encourage a data-driven culture to evolve, with these considerations.

Effective Questioning: Asking the right questions is key to building the right company-wide data culture. This may include how we go about project planning, predictive maintenance or demand forecasting. Assessing the business problem is key, so companies need creative people that have an analytical mindset and understand the business constraints.

Data Capture & Access: Firms need to proactively collect data from a variety of sources, and to make it accessible to the right teams. The data should be presented in a way that enables the relevant people to glean actionable insights.

Expertise Search: Data is a team sport, so while companies need experts to build machine learning models, they also need people with commercial abilities, who will uncover useful data insights. Instead of jumping to re-build a team from scratch, companies should secure data scientists from the expanding labor market or the existing employee talent pool.

Ensure a competitive AI strategy
The construction sector is on the verge of digitalization, which is both disrupting traditional processes, and presenting valuable business opportunities. AI and ML are set to increase efficiency throughout the value chain, including demand forecasting, predictive maintenance, the production of building materials to the design, planning and construction phase. Using AI will save time and money, and give you a competitive edge, however, set-up issues remain.

Determine outcomes: Asking pertinent questions will shape what outcomes can be generated from specific applications. The priority is to capture the high-level goals, translate them to a business process automation challenge and determine the ideal results.

Measure Success: Companies must identify success metrics. The definition of success may vary, but the goal remains the same; cutting costs, delivering value and improving profits.

Connect with the IT Ecosystem: Community plays a vital role in driving change. There are many ways to connect with the ML community, which will enable IT specialists to exchange knowledge and learn from each other.

Establish trust in AI
ML models should not be seen as ‘black boxes’. We should be able to explain them coherently, and identify the logic behind business predictions. Eliminating bias from the results will help establish trust in AI.

Open Source or not: When companies start on their AI journey, they will need to decide between open source or proprietary software, or both. Using open-source provides a good starting point, but mission-critical construction led applications will need to evolve to commercial platforms, with the associated support.

Cloud or on-premise: If you are starting from ‘ground-zero’ and have no existing infrastructure, going the Cloud route makes sense, given the security and maintenance issues. However, if you have an IT foundation, the on-premise option can reduce costs. Many companies embarking on an AI initiative may opt for a hybrid model of cloud and on-premise.

Construct your AI journey
We predict that AI will continue to drive significant change across the entire construction value chain. Progressive firms will embrace innovation, especially where the disruption potential is highest, in the areas that are characterized by repetitive tasks with limited uncertainty. However, even when construction companies have identified the AI potential, the three key challenges of Talent, Time and Trust, will help underpin the strategy, and kick-start your staged AI transformation journey.

John Spooner is Head of Artificial Intelligence, EMEA, at H2O.ai, an open-source leader in AI and automatic machine learning with Driverless AI, and its mission is to democratize AI for all. H2O.ai is transforming the use of AI with software, with its category-creating visionary open-source machine learning platform, H2O. More than 18,000 companies use open-source H2O in mission-critical use cases for Construction, Finance, Insurance, Healthcare, Retail, Telco, Sales, and Marketing. H2O.ai currently partners with leading technology companies such as NVIDIA, IBM, Intel, AWS, Azure, Google and more.

www.h2o.ai

Why construction teams should embrace rather than fear AI and automation. By Yaz Shqara

When the topic of robots in the workforce gets brought up, it’s easy to feel a little uncomfortable. After all, we commonly hear comments like, “one day when robots are doing our jobs…” or “a machine can do that, quicker and cheaper.”

However, the truth is far less scary than these conversations and sensationalism. Indeed, construction is rapidly moving towards its next phase of digital advancement – artificial intelligence and automation. While it may seem inevitable that certain roles will likely be replaced by machines in the future, the benefits Technology Center Toronto 2797of embracing AI and automation outweigh the potential negatives – especially when you take into account that AI is more likely to help create new jobs while enhancing industry efficiency.

When considered more closely, automation in construction provides way more good than bad for the industry’s workforce and the end-users who benefit from building projects.

Here are three of the most compelling reasons for the industry to embrace automation:

1.Safer Jobsites
Construction is most dangerous due to the physical demands of the work. “as of March 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 7,605,000 people were employed in the construction industry. Roughly 4% of total employment in the United States is found in the construction industry,” summarizes MCR Safety. Yet, the Bureau “also reports that the number of fatal work injuries in 2015, the latest available data, was 937 in the construction industry, which amounted to just over 21% of all worker deaths.”

Clearly, the jobsite poses hazards that other industries rarely match, which means construction stakeholders have a responsibility to take every available precaution to make the job safer.

Thankfully, automation and artificial intelligence open serious opportunities for improving construction safety. Automation and AI has the potential to:

  • Reduce intensive manual labor: AI reduces intensive manual labor and thereby the risk of human mistakes and injury. While robot workers are currently slower than humans at many tasks, they’re learning quickly.
  • Replace high-risk jobs: In addition to replacing routine tasks, it can replace dangerous ones as well. Increasingly, machines are replacing the need for human workers in mines, on underwater jobsites or even in remote locations.
  • Work with existing safety gear: Technology can be integrated with existing personal protective equipment (PPE), for example, by helping alert supervisors to the presence of personnel who lack PPE. Or robots can work to reduce the weight of heavy objects for human workers, enabling them to precisely install without the risk of crushing accidents.

Furthermore, machine learning is also being used to identify safety concerns faster. Some smart companies are developing technology that can see construction accidents before they happen.

Technologies such as BIM 360 Construction IQ work to predict falls on the job, helping mitigate the event that causes nearly 40% of deaths in construction. How is this technology working so far? According to BAM Ireland, a Construction IQ user, the company has “achieved a 20% reduction in quality and safety issues on site.” Construction IQ algorithms don’t just look at the number of QC items, the technology also surfaces keywords such as “waterproofing details” or “TPO damage” to help identify high risk issues, act as redflags and can help to mitigate risk.

2.Closing the Gap on the Labor Shortage
While some are busy railing about machines taking over their jobs, construction is facing a massive labor shortage, with 80% of companies reporting an inability to find needed workers.

If implemented correctly, automation and robotics can help improve the efficiency of the current workforce with machines filling in for specific jobs where there is a shortage.

For example, human-intensive activities such as excavation and prep work can be reduced with the use of robotics. Such technologies can take on tasks like operating heavy equipment and vehicles, which can keep the industry trucking (no pun intended) while the market catches up, helping to ensure that labor shortfalls don’t impact the bottom lines of human stakeholders and those workers who do have jobs.Construction Topcon 012

AI can also be used for better labor planning, with automation in construction used to reduce large amounts of necessary but repetitive manual work. For instance, compiling a process like creating submittals logs has historically been tasked to a project team member, and it could take days and even weeks of their time to create, track and manage. But with automation software such as Pype, a log can be created instantly and tracked seamlessly throughout the process.

3.Smarter businesses and smarter projects
As IBM’s Watson has proven, machines can indeed be more intelligent than us in a wide range of tasks. In many industries, this type of machine intelligence is working side-by-side with humans to improve decision making and productivity.

In construction, we’re not yet there. “Engineering and construction is behind the curve in implementing artificial intelligence solutions,” says research firm McKinsey, adding that “while its customers are increasingly sophisticated, it remains severely underdigitized.” So as owners demand intelligent operations and cutting-edge results, firms that can’t keep up will become irrelevant.

Stanford University’s ALICE perfectly exemplifies how companies can get faster, smarter and more productive: “Starting from an initial construction plan where the early schedule and size of the project are defined by a human scheduler, ALICE uses the inputs to calculate millions of different scenarios that would require decades of work for a person to complete.” ALICE’s AI leads to better designs with more options, fewer errors, better collaboration, less rework and more.

How to Prepare for the Future of Construction

So, how can construction firms prepare for a new way of working, with automation and AI at our fingertips? It means taking an eyes-wide-open approach:

  • Be open to change: McKinsey research finds that “companies with a strong track record of digitization are 50% more likely to generate profit from using AI,” says the stats firm. If that’s not where your company is at this moment, make an effort to start now, even small steps.
  • Nurture employees’ development and hire right: Look to train internal employees on skills that will be needed with coming automation. For AI to be successful, we’ll need to equip our workers for success. Note that the future of construction work will demand a higher level of skill as well as more frequent upgrades, so choose people who can handle the pace.
  • Double down on data collection: Data is the driving ingredient for making artificial intelligence and automation a success in any business. Whether you adopt AI in the next year or a decade, it’s wise to be data-driven to improve AI’s future at your company.

AI is coming, whether you like it or not. The truth is, tomorrow becomes today shockingly quick. Don’t assume you can adopt AI and automation when it’s already here and too late to get up to speed. Plenty of leading companies are starting to embrace automation and AI, and if you want to remain competitive–whether as a massive firm or a boutique startup–you need the right tools to do so. Make sure leadership understands this, even if you’re the one who has to bring it to their attention. So start pursuing questions about tomorrow today, before it’s too late–and you get left behind.

Yaz Shqara is a construction solutions executive at Autodesk. Autodesk makes software for people who make things. Autodesk Construction Cloud is the company’s portfolio of software and services that brings together Assemble, BIM 360, BuildingConnected and PlanGrid, and with Autodesk’s established design authoring tools, connects headquarters, office and field teams to increase collaboration and productivity. Autodesk Construction Cloud combines advanced technology, a unique builders network and predictive insights to connect people and data across the entire building lifecycle.
https://construction.autodesk.com/

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