Technology

Vinci Construction UK: 5,200 hours saving via AI

8 March 2021

Vinci Construction UK’s building division is hoping to save 5,200 hours of work across its 25 live sites by adopting an AI-based tool that allows construction progress to be monitored remotely. The new tool, OpenSpace - named after its Californian start-up designer - will also help fulfil requirements for a golden thread of information on projects.

Marco Bonelli, lead digital engineer at Vinci Construction UK, said his company has signed a three-year deal with OpenSpace to use its system across all of its building projects. The agreement has been signed in partnership with construction technology integrator Sektor.build. Bonelli says that that time savings will be made because staff will no longer have to take pictures, then sort, organise, and label them once they are uploaded.

The system uses a standard 360-degree camera attached to a hardhat that passively records images as a builder walks the site carrying out their duties.

The image data is uploaded to the cloud, where algorithms automatically map the photos to project plans and “stitch” them together to create an accurate visual representation of the site without any human intervention.

The data accumulates to give construction professionals the ability to review all aspects of a site over previous days, weeks or months. This can be harnessed to improve co-ordination between project stakeholders, resolve disputes, clarify requests for information and change orders, as well as creating a historical record of construction for future renovation projects.

Vinci is making the tool available from the middle of March onwards across all its Building sites, as part of its newly launched digital engineering strategy, which will see BIM rolled out routinely across the company (https://www.bimplus.co.uk/news/vinci-uks-building-division-unveils-new-digital-en/).

We can save 5,200 hours across all our projects, because we don’t need to go around sites taking pictures, which is what happens currently to chart progress.– Marco Bonelli, Vinci Construction UK

“We can save 5,200 hours across all our projects, because we don’t need to go around sites taking pictures, which is what happens currently to chart progress,” said Bonelli. “We record the video and use AI and computer vision to identify where we are in the process and then it compares the info against the BIM model.”

Vinci intends to use the tool to provide remote site visits to everyone that will require it, reducing the number of visitors on site, which has been valuable throughout the pandemic.

Bonelli said that OpenSpace will also be a useful tool in ensuring quality and safety of construction. “Even when walls have been installed, we can go back in time and see what has been put in place, without breaking the wall or the ceiling.

“This is all central to the golden thread, the big topic of the moment. It gives us a digital record of our construction. And all the information is on one platform.”

Bonelli said it would probably be expanded across Vinci Construction UK. The benefits will be “huge”.

OpenSpace has been trialled on six projects, including student accommodation for UCL in London and restoration work on an old municipal building in York.

“We expect to expand to all our live projects by mid-March and new sites will be automatically enrolled.”

Advanced and easy to use

Bonelli said that four other solutions were trialled before OpenSpace was selected. “This was the most advanced and also the easiest to use – it offered the most benefit, from the least action by the user.

“The trials have shown it’s easy to use and doesn’t create extra work. All operatives will have to do is walk round site holding the camera. The tool then provides the information 15 minutes after it’s been uploaded. So, once you’re back from walking round the site, the info is already loaded and waiting. It’s very fast!

“It also provides object recognition, so I can select, for example, a fire extinguisher and the tool will identify all the fire extinguishers round site at that moment.

“And it gives us the opportunity to track on site our working percentage, so it’s using machine learning to track the status of walls, ceiling, flooring, etc. in terms of percentage of completion, which is great support for the planning team.”

OpenSpace does not identify if a part of the building has been constructed incorrectly. But it can identify if only 50% of a work package is complete.

In the future, it will be used to carry out a progress check for ceiling, MEP, flooring, walls, as well as photogrammetry and measurements.