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Automation and sector impacts research 2016: construction sector outlook


The objective of this report is to provide an overview of the current level of adoption of automation in the Scottish construction sector and identify how this might change over the period to 2025. It provides examples of current and emerging automation technology relevant to the construction sector in Scotland and uses stakeholder feedback to develop a vision for 2025.


The research was carried out during August and September 2016. The methodology consisted of a combination of secondary research and primary research, which included feedback from eight industry and academic stakeholders.


The research found that the pace of technological change in automation and reducing costs of practical solutions are increasing the rate of adoption by the construction sector. However, feedback suggests that Scotland currently has a low level of adoption of automation and robotics in the construction sector relative to the rest of the UK and other leading countries such as Japan, Germany, France, Sweden and Denmark. There are opportunities to develop a Scottish based automation supply chain with innovative solutions aimed at the construction (and other) sectors. Stakeholders identified automated inspection of buildings and infrastructure and automated onsite material tracking solutions as two examples of this. There is already a co-ordinated effort to increase the uptake of digital construction amongst the Scottish construction sector supply chain. However, the size of the market in Scotland, and the lack of certainty about future market demand, places constraints on the degree of large scale investment that is perceived to be financially viable. The report notes that adoption of automation technology has potential to improve productivity, reduce waste and improve the attractiveness of the sector to new labour market entrants through a reduction in repetitive tasks, transfer of activities from site to factory and improved health and safety performance. It also highlights that increased levels of automation will result in different skills required from the construction sector labour force, such as operation, maintenance and repair of physical automation equipment and programming and operation of digital solutions, which will require relevant skills development.


To increase levels of adoption of automation in the Scottish construction sector, a number of recommendations were made for construction sector companies and the automation supply chain, industry bodies and the public sector. These include the identification of opportunities to increase the uptake of automation, raising awareness of the benefits of automation and providing support to facilitate automation.

Author Optimat
Published Year 2017
Report Type Research
  • Sectors
    Construction, Digital markets and enabling technologies