The construction sector has been investing more in software, yet industrialisation growth has been slow, a report from financial services firm ING has claimed.
According to ING’s latest economics report, after a long period of stagnated growth in the construction sector, the digitalisation of the industry is on the rise, boosting efficiency.
The report says that despite an increase in innovation through digitalisation, industrialisation of the construction process is still lagging behind in the Eurozone. For example, an employee in the sector has approximately €10,000 in machinery at their disposal – one fifth of the value available to employees in the manufacturing sector.
The reason for this is attributed to companies’ requirements for flexibility. Different construction projects have their own challenges. Contractors may have to build different structures and always in a different location. The report said that many construction companies chose not to invest in machinery which might only be able to perform one individual task and create additional pressure on fixed costs.
ING said that digitalisation could help a company in a more cost-effective way, providing many advantages in the design phase and enabling potential errors in the construction process to be spotted at this early period, before the physical aspects of the project have been constructed.
The report claims that innovation in the construction sector is needed to avoid “pricing itself out of the market”. Most industries are apparently producing more per labour hour, which often results in products becoming cheaper. However, in construction, costs are increasing, which translates into more expensive new developments that are likely to lead to fewer projects being undertaken.
Robotics and 3D printing offer solutions to some extent, according to ING, since these allow mass customisation. However, high investment costs in the volatile construction market and building at a different location each time are said to continue to pose difficult hurdles.