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Leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for Capital Improvement Program Performance

by Chris Bell   |   October 29, 2021

Collecting construction data into a central repository has many potential uses—and two of the most exciting are artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). AI is defined as any technique that allows a computer to mimic human intelligence, while ML allows a computer to perform a task without being explicitly programmed to do so (in essence, it teaches itself).

These emerging technologies have the potential to provide valuable predictive insights and recommendations for capital program owners, and Trimble e-Builder is actively developing new and useful tools that incorporate AI and ML.

Within e-Builder Enterprise, North America’s most trusted construction management solution for owners, there’s already a wealth of data—400 TB of detailed construction information including $1 trillion of capital improvement program (CIP) cost data, 530,000 individual projects ranging in size from $10K to $4B, 160 million drawings, specifications and contracts, 225 million workflow step approvals, and 61,000 construction processes.

“The more data you have, the more accurate your models will be. Owners have a lot to gain from applying AI and ML tools, including optimized operations, faster decision-making, and new capabilities and services.”

- Chris Bell, VP of construction data and analytics at Trimble e-Builder.

Data Collection

Collecting and organizing data can yield insights about how your project performed, whether you are meeting budget goals, and how quickly your teams accomplished tasks. But AI adds another level of value because it can look at that data not just retrospectively but predictively. “An AI tool looks at current trends and notices things that are going to happen in the future based on the project’s current course and speed,” Bell explains. “Then, it can begin to make recommendations on actions you should take now before it’s too late.”

Trimble is also actively developing AI tools using computer vision (object recognition using video feeds), data science, and natural language processing. Let’s take a closer look at a few tools we’re currently working on for CIP owners.


Trimble Cerebra allows you to see the cost index for construction projects across North America, incorporating detailed cost information from a multitude of systems held within Trimble. The tool aggregates this data and applies AI models to predict cost indices in the construction economy—a full six months ahead of what Dodge Data & Analytics and other services can provide. Best of all, Trimble Cerebra is free to use.

e-Builder Contingency AI Tool

Contingency, or budget set aside to fund unforeseen cost on a construction project, is difficult to calculate with accuracy. Owners often overestimate contingency needs and tie up funds that could be used elsewhere if predictions were more accurate.

e-Builder is working on a contingency AI tool that makes historical comparisons of projects of similar parameters and predicts the contingency budget needed for a new project—with up to 60 percent more accuracy than humans, when measured against Actuals. The savings opportunity per customer is significant—$18 million in potential annual savings per year*, funds that can be reclaimed and applied to other projects in your portfolio.

*Depending upon the size and complexity of your capital improvement program.

e-Builder Artificial Intelligence

e-Builder Environmental Impact Tool

As sustainability goals and requirements become more central to construction projects, e-Builder has created a model that can extract project parameters from a written description and make predictions about its C02 impact based on information from sources such as the EPA, Green Project Initiative, and others. “Owners can use the environmental impact estimator to get an early indicator and make decisions based on the expected carbon impact,” says John Maliani, VP of engineering at Trimble e-Builder. “This allows you to clearly demonstrate your organization’s environmental efforts.”

AI and ML will continue to pave the way for new tools and greater efficiencies in the construction industry. For more on how Trimble is harnessing these technologies, check out the full webinar.

Key Topics Covered: Artificial Intelligence, Data

About the Author

Chris Bell
Vice President, Marketing

Chris Bell serves as the Vice President of Marketing leading all aspects of marketing including market strategy, product marketing, demand generation, CRM, brand strategy, public relations, and social media.

Throughout his 20+ year career, Chris has leveraged a unique blend of backgrounds from the engineering & construction industry, project & program management, and software industry to position tech companies for growth. He most recently served as Chief Marketing Officer at ARES Project Management and Active Risk. He also served as VP of Product Strategy & Management at Deltek and key marketing roles at Oracle | Primavera and AECOM.

Chris holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Mansfield University, a PMP from Boston University, and PM Leadership from Construction Industry Institute.

Connect with Chris on LinkedIn.