Whether that role is one that jeopardises jobs or catalyses innovation, however, is up for discussion. What is for certain though is that change is looming.
One could write tens or even hundreds of thousands of words on the forces predicted to impact the sector in the future. So, for the purpose of conciseness, this piece will draw on a select few emerging themes which we at Sancroft believe could have the most significant impact on this industry. This reflects a serious gap that needs to be filled: prepare for the tech or suffer the consequences. To gain or retain competitive advantage, businesses must start long-term planning and mapping where their risks and opportunities lie. They must develop strategies for addressing this step change and identify which key stakeholders are to be engaged throughout this process.
The industry has been cited by several global, development-focused organisations — such as the World Economic Forum  — as having a key role to play in solving global challenges, including climate change, resource scarcity and rapid urbanisation.
Not only does the sector provide jobs, it drives economic growth and is a key factor for governments in both developed and developing economies. Construction has intricate linkages with numerous other sectors and can be linked indirectly with other types of economic growth.
Therefore, the importance of developing a robust, but also agile, construction industry of the future where players all along the value chain collaborate cannot be understated. As highlighted by PwC, automation has the potential to severely disrupt the sector.
It found that, initially, women are more likely to be impacted, due to the types of tasks that are more susceptible to automation and current gender profiles of employment. The development of AI will disrupt in parallel; as technologies are able to better analyse and make decisions based on an array of data sources, the need for human input will diminish. One solution here is retraining, which will require collaboration between a range of stakeholders, including governments, businesses, trade unions and educational establishments.
Retraining an entire workforce is no easy feat and will necessitate planning that should, really, have already started.
Arguably, upskilling workforces of the future across a range of industries should be a government priority and already being addressed. However, as is often the case, business will likely have to pick up the slack.
A second PwC study  has shown that emerging drone technology has the potential to boost the productivity of the UK construction industry by 3. Drones can reportedly survey sites times faster than humans and can drive huge efficiencies in data collection and analysis, especially when integrated with building information modelling systems, which together create highly-accurate visual representations of construction sites .
Regulation concerning the commercial use of drones is currently under development. A key development which is predicted to significantly impact construction is partial-prefabrication of homes, better known today as modular housing. The nearly-finished products are shipped to site, with only final assembly and bolting left to complete.
Technology, Design and Process Innovation in the Built Environment - CRC Press Book. Newton, Peter, Hampson, Keith D., & Drogemuller, Robin (Eds.) () Technology, design and process innovation in the built environment.
A host of major construction firms are already on board with the idea. A handful of organisations, both public and private, have gone beyond this. In the last several months, Birmingham City Council announced a pilot modular house plan which, if successful, will provide the basis for a larger rollout in .
An initial wave of modular homes are planned as part of 10, overall individual residences . The Mass Timber Institute aspires to be an ambitious and unique public-private collaboration focused on ground-breaking research and development as well as specialized teaching and training regarding mass timber tall wood buildings and the use of advanced wood products.
The Product Development Exchange PDx is used to rapidly develop new products for many sectors, including: advanced building technology and energy management; healthcare technologies; and food innovation, among many others. Welcome to the Green Building Centre.
Read the FedDev Article. Building Information Modeling BIM Lab The Building Information Modeling BIM Lab works with the industry to introduce improve sustainable design processes and apply this technology to the life cycle of buildings, through the creation and management of unified 3-dimensional 3D digital representations of buildings.
The Smart Connected Buildings Lab The Smart Connected Buildings lab is actively collaborating with leading industries in the area of smart connected buildings, a five-year research program lead by Dr. Building Sciences and Building Envelope Labs The Building Sciences and Building Envelope Labs provide a test site and demonstration lab for technology companies who want to refine prototypes and test innovative green building systems, materials and technologies in a realistic setting, as well as support testing to increase energy efficiency in a variety of buildings.