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Buhl, H, Andersen, M and Harty, J (2020) Construction Industry 4.0: Entangling Colliding Practices. In: Scott, L and Neilson, C J (Eds.), Proceedings 36th Annual ARCOM Conference, 7-8 September 2020, UK, Association of Researchers in Construction Management, 386-395.

  • Type: Conference Proceedings
  • Keywords: industry 4.0, automation, construction practice, design practice, sociomateriality
  • ISBN/ISSN: 978-0-9955463-3-2
  • URL: http://www.arcom.ac.uk/-docs/proceedings/2ed1331e16569cdb2bf03c733b844077.pdf
  • Abstract:

    Industry 4.0 (I4.0) originated in a 2011 project about high-tech strategy for the German government, promoting the computerisation of manufacturing. The project addresses an industrial revolution within large manufacturing companies and related industries. The promises and premises of I4.0 should be understood in this context, as a different practice and technology compared to a construction project or even an industrialised construction process. Despite a focus on new technologies, the sector has so far not experienced a large-scale real-world implementation which has often been attributed to several commercial and technical challenges. The aim of our research is to understand why I4.0-technologies have problems being exploited in construction practices, and to examine approaches to implementation of technologies through exploring the basic nature of work, collaboration, organisation, technologies, and human agency. How such understandings, vocabularies and conceptualisation can create knowledge for an active intervention in the design and construction processes of technologies. The study is based on a sociomateriality approach, which refers to a particular epistemological and ontological understanding of technologies, people, and organisations. The data collection method includes interviews and revisiting earlier action research projects. The interviews include several different professionals in the sector and industry 4.0-technology-vendors specialised in technology for the construction industry. The research results show that there is a discrepancy between our understanding of technologies in action/practice and the technology-vendors’ understanding of technologies in use. However, the existing knowledge and experience from I4.0 is also an opening for experimentation with new approaches based on the interaction between the different practices (actors) and technology. The paper concludes with a call to academia to develop (co-create) and test new ways of implementing Industry 4.0 in this context.