Welcome to the construction control centre

Buildots builds a comprehensive construction management tool from site surveys using helmet mounted cameras, supported by advanced AI techniques for detailed data analysis

Israel has been the home to many tech advancements over the years including the USB flash drive, autonomous driving aid Mobileye and GPS navigation software app Waze. The country is also home to construction tech start-up Buildots, which was launched in Tel Aviv in 2018, opening its UK Headquarters the following year. The company recently celebrated reaching the milestone of hiring it's 50th employee and more recruitment is expected this year. They are clearly a company on the rise and worthy winners of the One to Watch category at the Construction Computing Awards in November 2020.

The digitisation of the construction industry is bringing tremendous opportunities for companies developing transformative technologies that can handle the exponential growth of information that accompanies it. If you are in the industry, you can either be transfixed by the sheer wealth of data available, or utilise it intelligently to increase productivity and growth. The two enablers currently in vogue are the establishment of Digital Twins that replicate physical construction projects with digital models, and the use of Artificial Intelligence to analyse and improve construction processes.

This is the premise behind Buildots, which starts from a seemingly simple operation and uses the visual information captured to provide a 'mission control room' that can facilitate more effective management of a project's daily operation across multiple stakeholders.

It works by using lightweight hard hat-mounted 360° cameras that unobtrusively capture data while staff go about their normal work, providing information about every aspect of the construction site. It can be rapidly utilized by anybody on site without the need for intrusive training sessions or down time. Once the data has been collected it is automatically analysed to build a complete and up-to-the moment snapshot of every aspect of progress and construction.

The cameras are worn by members of staff who passively capture the images during their normal site walks. They are automatically uploaded and compared with the expected progress of the site by a sophisticated AI system, working with BIM, which uses the 3D images captured to create an up-to-date digital twin of the project. This gives the management team live information on everything that is happening on site, without the need to be constantly inspecting progress.

Besides providing an update on the exact stage that construction has reached, flagging partially completed activities (loose ends), or highlighting where additional labour is required, the data can be used for numerous other purposes.

The most obvious is the automatic spotting and logging of snags, enabling them to be recorded in real time and dealt with before they cost serious money. Subcontractors' work can also be logged and monitored enabling the accounts office to approve invoices and pay on time without having to verify work done with site inspections. Errors are also spotted instantly, with the visual logging creating a culture of transparency that is likely to lead to a reduction in their incidence in the future.

Site planning is dramatically improved, as managers are provided with more accurate and up-to-date information to manage materials deliveries, enabling them to be more precise in terms of quantity or timescales, and cutting out wait times. Specialised tradespeople can be managed better thanks to the ability to match appropriate labour requirements to locations on-site. Removing a time-consuming reliance on paperwork, which is frequently inaccurate or delayed en-route to the site office or time-wasting site visits, site managers will also become aware of non-documented site issues, such as excess or waste material building up on site, and can specify its removal.

The use of artificial intelligence to link the images collected - which can build up to two million for a mid-sized project - facilitates the use of individual images to highlight construction issues, or to resolve disputes, during or after construction has been completed.

Buildots believes that the increased transparency of their solution will help to reduce errors, waste and rework, and enable better communication with the workforce. No longer will senior staff have to spend hours completing routine paperwork and inspections, leaving them free to focus on management issues that require the human touch, ultimately making the job more satisfying.

The solution handles the management of tasks and processes that are currently impossible or highly impractical for site staff to complete and provides detailed, accurate and objective data that can be acted upon. Using advanced AI capabilities to provide a consolidated project view, Buildots provides a 'percent complete' overview of tasks and highlights urgent issues which puts control firmly in the hands of the contractor.

Buildots' game changing solution mixes a profoundly simple and easy to use hardware technology with highly sophisticated artificial intelligence which, according to Buildots, represents a radical leap forward towards the aim of the connected jobsite. This offers companies the ability to transform their construction projects almost overnight into fully digitally managed environments without disruption or delays. Moreover, Buildots wanted their solution to be so straightforward to operate that it could be integrated seamlessly into existing work practices without the need for time-consuming training.

One of the huge advantages of Buildots is how straightforward it is to introduce. It even comes with all necessary equipment - 360 Degree cameras, hard hat mounts and docking stations, and for setup you just need to provide design and scheduling information.

It can also be integrated with existing digital construction management tools or be adapted to existing project workflows through customisable user interfaces. The Buildots Control Centre app provides a comprehensive view of the construction project thereafter.

Buildots is also sensitive to issues of privacy on site, and the AI software contains algorithms that automatically blur facial features and devices such as phone screens. It captures images rather than sound, so staff can be reassured that their privacy is not being infringed.

The ease with which the system can be introduced, combined with the cost and time savings it brings, mean it will have a wide appeal throughout the construction industry, and the introduction of artificial intelligence into the day-to-day working environment of the building site offers long term benefits for the sector.

The value created by the system is undeniable, changing the lives of the people who work on site and helping to increase construction operator's unbelievably small margins. Buildots gives contractors visual, measurable and archivable oversight of every aspect of the construction site. The construction 'mission control rooml' has most definitely arrived.