03 December 2019

Construction technology business Converge has
launched what is claimed to be the world’s first artificial intelligence (AI)
system for predicting concrete strength.

It is said to have the potential
to save the industry countless hours and millions of pounds a year.

The strength prediction engine
was developed in collaboration with BAM Nuttall, using funding from an Innovate
UK grant awarded last year. The system is already being used on BAM Nuttall’s
London City Airport expansion project.

Development of the system was
made possible by Converge’s access to a huge data set on concrete performance,
paving the way for the commercial application of machine learning to monitor
and predict material performance in a live project.

BAM Nuttall head of innovation
Colin Evison said: “This advancement in construction technology is a game
changer. The Converge prediction engine gives us insight into material
performance we didn’t think possible. We are delighted to be Converge’s
industry partner in bringing this exciting new tool to market.”

Since its inception in 2014,
Converge has focused on bringing efficiencies to site and shortening concrete
cycles with real-time strength data. The company found that, while the alerts
and live data generated bring significant project management benefits,
resultant actions often weren’t happening until many hours after critical
strengths were reached.

Converge product lead Sam Ellenby
said: “Our users were waiting for concrete to
hit a critical strength before scheduling the next activity, but this often
meant that the site teams needed to strike formwork or
tension the slab were deployed in other areas when the time came to act. Thus,
critical actions were frequently delayed.”

While such delays are small, when
accumulated across hundreds of cycles they result in weeks of lost potential
progress, said the development team. When concrete sits
on the critical path, costs associated with these time lags cost the industry
millions of pounds every year.

The predictions engine combines
local weather data, a database of historical concrete curing data, and the
Converge concrete monitoring platform’s real-time measurements from the pour.
This gives Converge the ability to predict the time the concrete will
reach strength with an accuracy of +/- 5%, several days in advance.

“The result of this immense predictive power is that teams can plan to act precisely when needed,” said the developers. “This improved productivity keeps projects on track and, ultimately, can save millions of pounds.”

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