Transforming construction management through artificial intelligence | Wates

Wates Residential is transforming construction management through artificial intelligence and machine learning to bring the office and site closer than ever before.

Since 2018, Wates Residential has been supporting a start-up business called Buildots – an Anglo-Israeli company focused on turning construction sites into fully digitised environments.

Buildots has pioneered  hard hat technology using a 360-degree camera on an operative’s hard hat, allowing site progress to be captured, and then analysed, using Artificial Intelligence (AI).

After meeting the founders at an Open Doors event at Wates Residential’s Abbey Road site in Camden, Wates Residential could see the potential of the technology and offered to to trial the software and support the team with testing and adapting their model for the UK construction industry.

Since this first meeting, Wates Residential has continued to champion Buildots by providing further pilot sites at Stag House and at West Street, to help develop and improve the software until its launch earlier this year.

Buildots - the technical bit

All videos captured by the camera are uploaded to a shared client portal and AI then analyses each frame captured, learns what each component of a process is, works out the metrics of the room and triangulates this through multiple landmarks (windows, doors, walls etc.).

This allows the technology to place a person at an accurate point on the BIM model and work out which floor and room he or she is in, simply by triangulating with the camera and the BIM model.

How it works on site

The equipment allows us to track production, put more accurate weekly plans in place, review quality, increase capacity for remote planning, avoid delays and make more accurate predictions about when materials need to be delivered to site.

A site manager will typically walk the site twice a week, with the camera attached. The data captured is then automatically marked up on a fit-out matrix and a report generated for the project manager or director to review.

This helps to free up time for site management to focus on more complex decision making, using the data collected, such as programme changes or managing quality or design issues.

An industry first

As the first UK contractor to test and use Buildots on a live construction site, Wates Residential has led the way in supporting efforts to digitise construction processes for the future.

The ability to virtually explore sites and keep track of delivery has never been more critical. But the tool is no replacement for staff. It is designed to make work more efficient, supplying more detailed and efficient planning information so that site management can make more efficient and effective decisions.

Wates Residential has been building up live site footage and review data using Buildots since 2018. In the initial testing phase, site teams manually identified construction processes that were not initially recognised by computer algorithms to help the AI become more intelligent each time.

Programme benefits

Now Buildots can be used to map progress in accordance with the construction programme and highlight potential problems that may impact it, ultimately saving costly delays.

For example, if the hard hat camera picks up that a specific trade hasn’t completed their works to programme, site management can more accurately plan for further trades to be delayed and how long this is likely to be. There is also video evidence of the status and quality of all works which can be used both as a bank of information long after works have been completed, but also in collaborative planning meetings during the construction programme to help resolve issues and highlight forthcoming problems.

By bringing together wearable technology, AI and big data, Buildots is revolutionising construction processes across Wates Residential sites, resulting in fewer defects, delays and unplanned costs and preventing issues from being passed on to the customer.

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"Buildots is a system that has revolutionised both the programming and monitoring of the fit-out phase at Stag House. The system helped to drive efficiencies with both our internal team and our supply chain, by providing up to date 360-degree photos of each room. I cannot stress how highly I regard the Buildots system - it has provided huge benefits to our efficiency, build quality and commercial resilience."
Tom Hooper-Smith
Project Manager, Stag House
"Throughout this process the team at Wates Residential have been providing invaluable insights and feedback and are proving to be among the most open minded and innovative people in the industry.”
Aviv Leibovici
Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder at Buildots

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