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Breaking Ground: The Slow Adoption of New Technology in the Construction Industry

The construction industry has long been regarded as one of the pillars of the UK economy. However, despite its undeniable significance, it has often lagged behind in adopting new technologies compared to other sectors. At Invise we’re always looking at ways new technology can assist, improve and offer increases in efficiency. We therefore thought it might be interesting to delve into the issues that have hindered the construction industry’s uptake of new technology and explore the potential impact of this sluggishness on the industry as a whole.

Why is Construction Slow to Implement New Technologies?

  1. Tradition and Resistance to Change

One of the primary reasons for the construction industry’s reluctance to embrace new technology is its deeply ingrained traditions and resistance to change. Many construction companies have been operating for decades, adhering to tired and tested methods passed down through generations. This steadfast adherence to tradition can make it challenging to introduce and integrate new technologies.

  1. Risk Aversion

The construction industry is inherently risk-averse. Projects often involve huge investments, tight schedules, and strict quality requirements. Any disruption or failure during construction can lead to significant financial losses. Consequently, construction companies tend to avoid unproven technologies to minimise risks. This cautious approach  can impede the rapid adoption of innovative solutions.

  1. Fragmented Nature of the Industry

The construction industry is highly fragmented, with numerous small and medium sized enterprises (SME’s) operating alongside larger corporations. This fragmentation can make it difficult to coordinate the adoption of new technologies across the entire industry. SME’s, in particular, may lack the resources and expertise to invest and implement cutting-edge technology.

  1. Lack of Standardisation

The construction industry lacks standardised processes and interoperable systems. Each project often involves a unique set of requirements and stakeholders, leading to a lack of consistency in technology adoption. Without industry-wide standards, it becomes challenging to develop and deploy technologies that can seamlessly integrate with existing workflows.

  1. Cost Barriers

Many advanced construction technologies come with substantial upfront costs, making them inaccessible to smaller companies with limited budgets. The price of technology adoption, including hardware, software, training and maintenance, can be a significant barrier for construction firms, especially during economic downturns. Construction firms tend to operate on low cost margins, you only have to refer to the number of firms that find themselves in difficulty or go out of business during tougher economic climates.

  1. Increased Costs

Outdated technology and processes can result in higher construction costs. Inefficient resource allocation, material waste and labour inefficiencies all contribute to increased expenses. Meanwhile, competitors who embrace technology can offer more competitive pricing, potentially leading to market share loss for slow adopters.

  1. Missed Opportunities

The construction industry is not immune to market disruptions, it could be argued that during economic downturns it is hit harder that other industries. Companies that fail to adopt innovative technologies risk missing out on opportunities to differentiate themselves and capture emerging markets. For example, green building practices and sustainable technologies are gaining momentum, and companies that ignore these trends may lose relevance.

  1. Environmental Impact

In an era of increasing environmental consciousness, slow technology adoption in construction can also have adverse environmental effects. Outdated construction methods can be less sustainable and contribute to excessive resource consumption and pollution.

Conclusion

The construction industry’s reluctance to embrace new technology is rooted in tradition, risk aversion, fragmentation, lack of standardisation and cost barriers. However, the consequences of slow technology adoption are far-reaching, affecting productivity, costs, opportunities and the environment.

To remain competitive and relevant in an ever evolving world, construction companies must overcome these challenges and proactively seek opportunities to integrate innovative technologies into their operations. Embracing change and fostering a culture of innovation can help the construction industry build a brighter, more efficient and sustainable future.

There is clearly a need to implement technology in the construction industry ‘one step at a time’ due to the reasons noted above, notably the cost implications investing in its use. At Invise we are taking that approach with the use of common technologies in surveying such as tablets for data collection, cloud computing and drones for inspection. In addition, we are consistently looking for new technologies to utilise and ways of improving our efficiencies and offerings to our clients.

One thing is very clear, the construction industry must adapt and modernise otherwise greater efficiency will not be achieved and those who don’t adapt with new technologies, will get left behind.

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