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ARCOM Conferences

36th Annual Conference – Glasgow, UK
7-9 September 2020

Track 4: The Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) And The Future Of Construction: Promises, Premises, Practices And Problems

Lead: Paul W Chan, Delft University of Technology; Niraj Thurairajah, Northumbria University; John Spillane, University of Limerick

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0, is a high-tech strategy that originated in Germany, to describe a new wave of technological advancements and applications that follows previous industrial revolutions of mechanisation, electrification and computerisation (see e.g. Kagermann et al., 2013; Dallasega et al., 2018). Such a strategy promises efficiency gains, by integrating the value chain, through a combination of technologies and techniques, ranging from automation and robotics, additive manufacturing, sensing, cloud computing, machine learning, big data analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), augmented and virtual reality, and so forth (see World Economic Forum, 2018). Despite the aspiration of these advancements, adoption of these technologies is slow and less than promising. Consulting reports by both the McKinsey Global Institute and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, have indicated that while construction is likely to see an increase in the use of automation and robotics, there is at best a 50% likelihood of robots replacing human labour in the sector. These reports also add that construction work which deals with a great deal of on-site and physical uncertainties, serve to stymie adoption of new technologies (see Maniya et al., 2017; Hawksworth et al., 2018).

In a recent systematic review of the literature, Oesterreich and Teuteberg (2016) also found that scholars have not fully grasped the potential of Industry 4.0 in the context of construction, with many simply re-appropriating (or even misappropriating) building information modelling (BIM) as a revolutionary step. In this track, we therefore invite concept, method and/or empirical papers, to examine the promises, premises, practices and problems of Industry 4.0 in reshaping what we do in the production of the built environment. In particular, we welcome papers that address one or more of the following questions:


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