AI and Plan Review – Outlook

AI is already having an impact but there is far more to come. The following considers various ways, and opportunities, for AI to impact plan review.

People review plans with different objectives, before, during and after construction. For example:

  • Functionality, usability & feasibility
  • Compliance and permit approval
  • Cost estimation
  • Risk assessment
  • Quality assurance 
  • Construction efficiency
  • Sustainability & environmental review
  • Guidance for construction
  • Resource allocation & scheduling
  • Safety
  • Troubleshooting

I expect that initially, people will look at ways of implementing AI to assist with plan review tasks as they currently exist. However, the real opportunity will come with adapting plans and the whole process to benefit from the way AI works. As an analogy, roads are designed for cars driven by people, but we could modify roads to make them easier for automated driving systems; similarly, construction plans could be enhanced to get more from AI systems. 

Here are some ways that AI might assist plan review in the near future based on existing systems:

  1. Automated compliance checking: Suitably trained AI could cross reference plans with regulations to ensure compliance.
  2. Cost estimation: At the time of writing it is estimated that only 30~40% of companies in the construction industry use BIM for take-offs and estimating (source, Statista). It means the rest use PDF or paper plans for the process. AI could scan and automate the task.
  3. Risk assessment: AI can use extensive data sets including not only materials and structural information but also historical data. 
  4. Efficiency optimization: AI could analyze a construction plan to find inefficiencies and suggest improvements. This could include everything from resource allocation, to sequencing of construction tasks, as well as the optimal use of machinery and labor.
  5. 3D modeling and analysis: AI can enhance 3D modeling, provide virtual mockups, and enable improved review together with highlighting potential issues for consideration. 
  6. Sustainability assessment: AI could improve assessments of the environmental impact of a construction project, including estimates of energy use, waste production, and carbon footprint. A natural follow on would be to make recommendations. 
  7. Integration with smart technologies: There are now a considerable number of sensor types available allowing for the integration of real-time monitoring and plan matching. 
  8. Accessibility and usability analysis

However, to further enhance the benefits of using AI based systems plans could incorporate considerably more data:

  1. Enhanced BIM (Building Information Modelling): BIM can be improved to include even more granular detail. This could involve adding more information about materials, precise structural measurements, more detailed cost information, timelines, and other key project details. AI can then analyze this detailed data more effectively.
  2. Inclusion of Life-cycle Data: Construction plans could include detailed information about the expected life-cycle of the building, including maintenance schedules, expected wear and tear, and potential future renovations or changes together with visual simulations. AI could use this data to predict long-term costs and potential future issues.
  3. Environmental Data: Adding detailed environmental data, such as local weather patterns, geological data, and information about local flora and fauna, can help AI better predict the environmental impact of the construction and suggest modifications to improve sustainability. 
  4. Inclusion of Societal Impact Information: This could include details on how the building would affect local communities, transportation systems, and economic activity based on the latest information harvested from external sources. AI could use this data to evaluate the societal impact of the construction project.
  5. Regulatory Information: Including detailed regulatory information within the construction plans could improve the accuracy of AI’s code compliance checks.
  6. Data from Similar Projects: Including data from similar past projects could help AI make more accurate predictions about potential issues and risks.
  7. Sensor Data: Incorporating sensor data (from IoT devices, for example) could allow for real-time updates to plans, letting AI make more timely recommendations and adjustments.

Visualization is key to all of the above… Volanti provides large touchscreen digital plan review displays systems, ideal for PDF plan review as well as advanced AI driven visualizations.

Volanti plan review table family