BAM Nuttall London City Airport project

BAM Nuttall develops AI system to predict concrete strength

BAM Nuttall has used what the firm claims to be the world’s first Artificial Intelligence concrete strength prediction engine, on its project to expand London City Airport.

The engine was developed with sensor firm Converge, which builds wireless and cloud-based technologies to help construction companies strike earlier and plan their projects more efficiently, by monitoring concrete.

The strength prediction engine was a collaboration using funding from a grant awarded by government initiative Innovate UK in 2018. The system takes advantage of Converge’s existing concrete performance data set.

Colin Evison, head of innovation at BAM Nuttall, said the development of the engine and advancement in construction technology is a “game changer.”

He expressed excitement about bringing the tool to market with Converge: “The prediction engine gives us insight into material performance we didn’t think possible.”

The tech is being used on BAM Nuttall’s expansion of the land surrounding London City Airport, which is making way for a new taxiway, new aircraft stands and new terminal buildings.

Within hours of concrete being poured, Converge claims it can predict the time a critical strength will be reached with an accuracy of plus or minus 5%, several days in advance, by applying machine learning techniques.

Converge Concrete Analytics

An example of Converge’s concrete analytics. Click to expand

The prediction 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.

Sam Ellenby, Converge product lead, 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.”

Converge and BAM Nuttall said the system led to improved productivity and can help keeps projects on track, with the potential to save millions of pounds.

Converge and BAM Nuttall have been excited by the results at London City Airport and are securing other opportunities to use this technology on live projects.

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