Ecobuild latest: Digital construction survey says smartphones have had biggest impact on industry

On-site technologies such as robots and drones are not having the expected impact on the way the industry works, research launched at Ecobuild which began today has revealed.

Just 6.7% said these technologies would be the most likely to change the way they did business in the upcoming two years.

Instead, BIM and mobile communication devices such as smartphones were listed as the initiatives which would have the most effect.

Nearly 70% of those polled said mobile communication devices had had the biggest impact on the way firms did business in the past two years with 49% saying BIM was the second most game-changing technology. Just 6.6% said on-site technologies.

The use of BIM is expected to have the biggest impact on the sector by 2020, the survey revealed.

David Philp, the chair of the CIOB Digital Working Group, said investment in BIM was being driven by clients which he said “gets the sector on the technology ramp”.

He added that automation would follow next. “These scalable initiatives provide a solid foundation and confidence to move towards a paradigm shift. The reality is, if it can be automated ultimately it will.”

The single biggest reason for barriers to adoption of digital technologies was listed as varying levels of take-up within the supply chain. Costs and availability of skills were also named.

Building, in association with Ecobuild, polled just under 250 people across a range of sectors including main contractor, architects and consultants with a third of the firms taking part having a turnover of £100m or more and the remainder below this figure.

Download the full report here.