A report from PlanRadar indicates a significant slowdown in the digitalisation of the construction sector.
The survey, which encompassed the opinions of over 1,300 construction professionals across 15 countries – including the United Kingdom, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Spain – aimed to assess the current state of digitalisation in these industries and forecast its development over the coming three years.
One of the report’s most startling findings is the considerable challenge faced by 77% of participants in adopting new technologies. Surprisingly, only about 28% of the companies surveyed reported ease in implementing these digital solutions.
Stuck in the Analogue Age
A large segment of the construction industry still clings to its traditional roots. This resistance to change is starkly apparent in the industry’s tepid response to adopting cutting-edge technologies. The adoption rates paint a clear picture: 3D printing is embraced by only 20%, robotics by a mere 18%, and artificial intelligence by just 26% of the industry.
In contrast, there are areas where the industry shows a willingness to invest. Energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies have attracted investment from 26% of the industry, while Building Information Modelling (BIM) and construction management software are each a focus for 19% of companies. This juxtaposition highlights a sector at a crossroads, slowly pivoting towards the future while still anchored in its traditional past.
Digital Adoption in Construction: A Slow Uptake
Despite the technological advancements in recent years, the construction sector still has considerable ground to cover in terms of digitalisation. The data reveals a telling trend: almost two-thirds of construction professionals have not witnessed a recent uptick in hiring for digital roles within their organisations. This indicates a gradual, albeit slow, shift towards integrating digital technologies in the industry.
Investment Trends: Software Emerges as a Key Focus
The survey sheds light on the key areas of technological investment within the sector. A prominent 77% of respondents expect an increase in investment in construction and real estate management software over the next three years. This trend correlates strongly with the experiences of 95% of the respondents who have realised cost savings through property technology, with 35% estimating these savings to be between 10% and 30%.
Furthermore, a significant portion, over two-thirds, of the respondents anticipate growth in digital solutions that support environmental objectives, particularly in energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors. Additionally, Building Information Modelling (BIM) methodology stands out as a pivotal area for future investment, as acknowledged by two-thirds of those surveyed. This highlights BIM’s extensive applicability across various construction scenarios.
Challenges implementing new tech
PlanRadar’s global survey underscores a significant challenge within the construction industry: overcoming traditional mindsets to embrace new technologies. Notably, the majority of the countries surveyed—8 out of 15—identify entrenched stakeholder perspectives as the primary hurdle to technological advancement.
Moreover, the survey brings to light widespread concerns about the return on investment (ROI) when adopting new technology. This concern is most pronounced in Australia, where 17% of companies cite ROI worries. Similar apprehensions are evident in over 20% of UK companies, 28% in France, and nearly a quarter of companies in both Austria and Germany. Additionally, for 21% of Australian companies, the cost of implementation coupled with traditional stakeholder views stands as a substantial impediment.
A key takeaway from the recent survey is a notably optimistic outlook towards digital investment in the construction sector. Over half of the respondents anticipate their companies increasing their digitalization budget by at least 11%, signalling a strong commitment to digital transformation across the industry.
However, there is a notable variation in this trend. The United Kingdom adopts a more conservative stance, with only 46% of businesses expecting a similar level of investment increase. In contrast, nearly a quarter of respondents across the survey anticipate a boost in digital spending of over 31%. This enthusiastic approach is particularly evident in specific countries, with Australia at the forefront with 39%, followed by Hungary at 27% and Romania at 30%.
Leon Ward Reflects on Digital Transformation
Leon Ward, the Australian and New Zealand Digital Construction Specialist at Plane Radar shares his thoughts on the survey findings, “Embracing digital construction technologies isn’t just about staying current; it’s about paving the way for a future where construction projects are smarter, safer, and more sustainable. We’re excited to continue seeing increasing digitisation and widespread technology adoption for Australia in the coming years.”
You can read the full report here.