Emerging trends and research directions
The so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterized by the paradigm-shifting changes in manufacturing since the introduction of programmable logic controllers, underlining the concepts of increased digitization and automation, modularization of production, mass customization and self-organization. The AEC (architecture, engineering, construction) industry has been less perceptive of 4.0 developments than others (e.g. aerospace and automotive industries) due to numerous factors stemming from the complexity of building design and delivery as well as the fragmented nature of the construction industry combined with a technological risk aversion, all of which are factors that do not underpin innovation. In this chapter, the authors present a background on diffusion of innovation in the AEC industry and an expanded discussion on factors hindering and motivating innovation highlighting the clash between fragmentation and integration. Moreover, to capture emerging trends in the industry, a revised categorization of Construction 4.0 concepts and technologies set the stage for a discussion regarding the corresponding stages of diffusion each concept or technology is currently demonstrating. This discussion distinguishes between various project phases (i.e. design and engineering, construction, operation). Some of these concepts and technologies are highlighted to open doors for conceptual discussions on integral versus modular innovations, proximity, etc. The authors also touch on revealed opportunities for novel and more collaborative project delivery methods such as IPD (Integrated Project Delivery), and how this may speed up integral 4.0 innovations in a reciprocal feedback manner. Further, a broad vision on revising the design and construction curricula is put forward towards allowing for more cross-disciplinary information flow from disciplines that are traditionally left out from AEC training and practice. Lastly, the authors suggest future directions both for industry and academia for introducing interdisciplinary research methods which will allow engineers to take the leadership back in developing their own design and engineering tools (from software engineers) that will allow them to lead the AEC in the information age. This diverse preparation is regarded necessary for architects and engineers to lead the evolution of the construction industry and adapt to the challenges of this century.