Industry 4.0 deployment in the construction industry: a bibliometric literature review and UK-based case study

Chris Newman, David Edwards, Igor Martek, Joseph Lai, Wellington Didibhuku Thwala, Iain Rillie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

170 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Industry 4.0 is predicted to be a game-changer, revolutionizing commercial and manufacturing practices through improved knowledge utilization and efficiencies. The barriers however, are significant, and the construction industry remains notoriously slow to take up innovations. This study reviews the research work in Industry 4.0 as it relates to construction, and examines a leading UK-based construction firm to ascertain the prognosis for Industry 4.0 roll-out in terms of the impediments and opportunities. Design/methodology/approach: A multistage mixed philosophies and methods approach was adopted for this study. First, an interpretivist epistemological lens was used to synthesise extant literature as a means of contextualizing the present study. Second, an empirical case study using a post-positivist stance and inductive reasoning was conducted to explore practitioner acceptance of Industry 4.0 in the UK construction context. Findings: Findings from the literature review indicate studies in Industry 4.0 to be a relatively new phenomenon, with developed countries and Germany in particular leading in the field. The range of opportunities are many, but so too are the barriers to enablement. Findings from the case study provide real-world corroboration of the review; practitioners are sanguine about Industry 4.0's potential to reinvigorate the construction industry, but also note that implementation remains curtailed by residual managerial practices dependent on ‘human interaction’. At present, much of the focus of industry practitioners is on the implementation of building information modelling (BIM), often at the expense of other more advanced technologies within Industry 4.0. Originality/value: Research in Industry 4.0 is limited, with the emphasis being on technology application. This paper, by contrast, maps the totality of work carried out so far and presents an assessment of Industry 4.0's progression, potential and degree of uptake within the UK construction industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-580
Number of pages24
JournalSmart and Sustainable Built Environment
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2021


  • Advanced technologies
  • Bibliometric analysis
  • Case study
  • Construction industry
  • Content analysis
  • Industry 4.0

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Building and Construction
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Urban Studies
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture


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