Investigating Major Challenges for Industry 4.0 Adoption Among U.S. Construction Companies

Sevilay Demirkesen, Algan Tezel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to explore the challenges hindering the adoption of Industry 4.0 among construction companies.

Design/methodology/approach: The construction industry is in need of innovative technologies due to its complex and dynamic nature. The fragmented structure of the industry requires the adoption of new tools and techniques in order to record better performance in the execution of projects. In this respect, latest trends such as digitalisation, BIM, IoT are of utmost importance in terms of fostering the change in managing projects and encouraging industry practitioners adopt the change for better performance. This paper focuses on Industry 4.0 (I4.0) adoption among construction companies, which is expected to take technology to the next evolution. In this respect, a questionnaire was designed and administered to construction professionals to reveal challenges I4.0 adoption among construction firms. Among the 89 questionnaires returned, 35 of them were provided by project managers, 27 were provided by senior project executives, 18 were gathered from senior engineers, and 9 are from senior project executives. The respondents were requested to fill in the questionnaire on the Industry 4.0 efforts of their companies. The questionnaire was intended to collect the perceptions of industry practitioners working at large construction companies. The questionnaire was designed as a two-part study. In the first part, the questions were aimed at collecting general information about the respondent and company characteristics. The second part was designed to measure the relative importance of the major I4.0 challenges and the companies’ level of success in tackling those challenges. Based on these, the challenges listed were ranked based on their relative importance and success indices. Finally, the Mann Whitney U test was conducted to test whether statistically significant responses exist among groups of respondents (i.e. young and old companies, large and small, high and low revenue, and main area of expertise). Significant responses were discussed accordingly.

Findings: The results of the study indicated that resistance to change, unclear benefits and gains, and cost of implementation are the major important challenges in terms of I4.0 adoption in construction projects. On the other hand, the data analysis implied that the majority of construction organizations successfully deal with the problems arising from lack of standardization, legal and contractual issues, and cost of implementing in terms of promoting I4.0 adoption.

Research limitations/implications: The study is expected to guide construction practitioners in terms of benefitting from I4.0 applications and deliver projects with better outcomes. The study is also expected to help researchers in terms developing a deeper understanding of major
challenges for the industry and conduct similar research with enablers or drivers for I4.0. This study might be used as a guide for the companies aiming to start their I4.0 transformation knowing the challenges and develop strategies how to handle them. A concrete plan would help them achieve greater performance and benefit from the I4.0 implementation at maximum level. The study might also provide basis for a comparative study with different data sets from different regions. Finally, the study implies that construction firms shall prepare action plans for handling each challenge listed and monitor their performance based on the planned and actual data of their projects.

Originality/value: This study investigates the major challenges of Industry 4.0 among construction companies. This is one of the important studies, which puts Industry 4.0 focus forefront of the construction industry with a clear identification of challenges that construction organizations have to address in order to transform their organizations into construction 4.0. The study has potential to guide both industry practitioners and researchers to develop awareness for the benefits of using latest technology and fostering innovation. This is expected to create value for construction clients in terms of achieving the product with serious gains such as time and cost
Original languageEnglish
JournalEngineering, Construction and Architectural Management
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 28 Mar 2021

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