The Construction Industry and Digitalisation

The widespread adoption of modern methods of construction will be key to solving the housing crisis as well as meeting many of the other challenges facing the industry. The Irish industry has been slow to embrace these new technologies generally and digitalisation in particular. What is the current state of the industry and how is it adopting these new technologies?

Constructive criticism

The construction industry in Ireland has been resilient through what has been a challenging time for the industry with Covid-19 lockdowns and the ongoing war in Ukraine having a major impact on the sector over the last three years, says Wes Jesson, managing director of KPMG Construction Advisory. “In saying that, the industry has really shown its resilience over the period with construction output for 2023 predicted to be in the region of €33 — €34 billion.”

Current challenges

Resources and the availability of skilled resources are one of the major challenges in the construction industry at present, says Jesson. “The industry is trying to evolve with a major push to embrace offsite manufacturing in all sectors of the industry.”

Inflation and interest rates are also putting the market under pressure as they are affecting the viability of large-scale construction projects, especially in the residential space where we are living through a housing crisis that will only continue to get worse as we see these large-scale projects not getting to site, says Jesson. “This is not limited to the housing sector with construction and tender price inflation at an all-time high which has a knock-on effect on all project viability and brings into focus the need for the industry to embrace lean construction by embracing offsite manufacturing and the use of technology which can help ensure a level of cost certainty.

“Legislation and regulation in the planning process is also a major challenge in getting projects to site. These delays are really affecting not only project viability but also the industry’s reputation to deliver projects and how advantageous it is to FDI funds and companies to invest money here.”

Opportunities knock

There are as many opportunities as challenges in the sector, believes Sarah-Jane Pisciotti, innovation & design director, John Sisk & Son. “At a macro-scale, to decarbonise the built environment in the face of climate change we need clever design innovation that can scale using modern methods of construction. To address workforce shortages, we need to attract and train diverse people and build more off-site.