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Construction industry not taking advantage of technology, says KPMG survey

The construction industry is struggling to reap the full benefits of advanced technologies, according to KPMG research.

The global survey of 200-plus senior construction executives found that just 8 per cent fall into the “cutting-edge technology visionaries” category, while 64 per cent of contractors and 73 per cent of project owners rank as “industry followers” or “behind the curve” when it comes to using technology.

On projects, 51 per cent of respondents felt that contractor risk was “somewhat increasing”, while 27 per cent felt it was “significantly increasing” – yet only 24 per cent of contractors claimed to be aggressively disrupting their business models.

However, another 38 per cent said they were innovating “in a few areas with positive results”.

The survey also revealed that almost two-thirds of those surveyed do not use advanced data analytics for project-related estimation and performance monitoring.

Only 27 per cent of contractors said they can “push one button” to obtain fully integrated, real-time project data, with only 21 per cent saying they use a single, fully integrated project management information system.

The use of mobile technology is more prevalent, with 46 per cent of contractors employing it on select projects, though only 31 per cent use mobile platforms on all projects.

Just 61 per cent use building information modelling on a majority of projects.

Looking at just Europe and the Middle East, only 7 per cent of respondents said they fell into the “cutting-edge visionary” category, with 53 per cent either “industry following” or “behind the curve”.

Other findings include:

  • 42 per cent use drones to monitor construction status
  • 30 per cent use robotics or automated technology
  • 65 per cent use remote monitoring on sites
  • 30 per cent use radio-frequency identification to track equipment and materials on site
  • 17 per cent use smart sensors to track people on site

KPMG UK head of infrastructure, building and construction Richard Threlfall said: “The survey responses reflect the industry’s innate conservatism towards technologies, with most businesses content to follow, rather than lead.

“Many lack a clear technology strategy, and either adopt it in a piecemeal fashion, or not at all.”

He added: “Harnessing the true potential of technology requires construction companies and project owners to get clearer about their technology vision and strategy.

“The rapidly evolving infrastructure challenges of the next decade demand both owners and engineering and construction firms embrace technology more strategically and at a far more rapid pace than in the past.”

The 218 senior executives that responded to the survey came from around the world working in a mixture of organisations carrying out significant capital construction projects.

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