What can AI do for a construction or energy company?

How can generative artificial intelligence be useful for a large company with business areas as diverse and different as water, construction or energy? In the case of Acciona, its engineering departments have been asking themselves this question for two years. And finding answers.

Saving time and improving processes are the first two, and obvious, answers. The usefulness and applications of the implementation of tools based on classical artificial intelligence have already been proven: preventing breakdowns, improving the maintenance of facilities and, therefore, optimizing their operation.

AI for everything?

Identifying how generative artificial intelligence can become a real advantage in a company with business areas as diverse as construction, energy, water or even culture, is one of the functions of Acciona’s Digital Innovation Hub. Something they do in contact with those who work directly in these areas. Miguel Ángel Rodríguez, Data & AI manager at Acciona, says: “Over the last two years we have integrated generative AI into Acciona Culture projects, and we are also using it to manage large volumes of documentation and information, such as those needed to handle project tenders.”

Certainly, preparing a project to be eligible for the execution of an infrastructure requires working with a large number of “documents, plans, procedures, references, etc. That is why intelligent bots have been implemented that are capable of responding to queries and searches in natural language, which significantly reduces the time and effort dedicated to manually reviewing all this documentation and quickly accessing the necessary information. All of this facilitates the work of employees in these areas, improves their decision-making and increases productivity.”

For its part, Acciona Energía applies “production optimization models that use artificial intelligence to maximize performance and predict the optimal hours for generation in wind farms, photovoltaic plants and hydroelectric plants.” In this area, AI is also a tool that “monitors the correct use of personal protective equipment and promotes safe and healthy work environments, thereby guaranteeing the safety of workers.”

As for Acciona Cultura, we are working on developing experiences with the help of generative AI, creating totally innovative and immersive scenarios that involve visitors in the exhibition itself.

One issue that often comes up as a concern when talking about artificial intelligence is the possibility that it will help replace people. However, on this subject, Rodríguez is clear: “We understand generative AI as a tool that improves the capacity and efficiency of employees’ work, that complements and empowers them. Not as a replacement.”

Long-term vision

What is clear is that the adoption of these technologies is not something that will happen today or tomorrow, but rather “a progressive and evolutionary process. At ACCIONA we are gradually integrating AI into our operations, ensuring that each new implementation is validated and adjusted according to the specific needs of our various departments and projects.”

In any case, Rodríguez stresses, “the transformation that comes with implementing generative artificial intelligence allows companies to be more competitive and adapt quickly to changes in the market and even detect new business opportunities.”


Human intelligence behind artificial intelligence

The department that drives this innovation is the Digital Hub. It is characterised by the multidisciplinary profile of its members: engineers, mathematicians, physicists, graduates in Fine Arts, automation and industrial robotics, app developers, video game experts, etc. Working together, they monitor the most promising technologies that appear in the world and seek applications for Acciona’s businesses.

Carmen Camuñas, its director, makes it clear: “The objective of technology is to improve operations, the sustainability of processes, the safety of workers and greater efficiency. And technology is only one of the means that the company uses to achieve this goal.”