The construction industry plays a decisive role in the world economy. Despite its importance (1,502,500 workers in France for 148 billion euros (excluding VAT) of work per year), it is still described as less productive and innovative than other sectors. A 2020 study even reveals that the added value of a worker on a building site in France has fallen by about 20% over the last 20 years. In response, many actors recognize the need to innovate to reverse this trend. New forms of work are emerging thanks to the introduction of technologies or principles such as Building Information Modeling (BIM), virtual and augmented reality, prefabrication, the Internet of Things (IoT), additive manufacturing, robotization, etc. All over the world, large companies are already experimenting with some of these technologies, but their implementation is still in its infancy, especially in small companies. This is indeed the major difficulty of this sector of activity. In 2020, small companies (with less than 20 employees) represent about 99% of French construction companies and 59% of the sector’s salaried employees. On a European scale, the situation is the same, with 92% of companies having less than 10 employees. It is also an extremely diversified and fragmented sector that includes, for example, 24% of companies specializing in general masonry, 11% in electricity or painting, etc. The 650,000 companies (+45% in 10 years) in the sector are finally spread over more than 20 different trades in France.
A study aimed at providing a comprehensive classification of the 4.0 technologies currently studied and applied in the construction industry reveals, indeed, that these technologies are finally managing to spread within this sector, and complete the various functionalities of an industrial cyber-physical system. It turns out that 7 technological “bricks” are under consideration and very regularly cited and applied by different authors, namely: digital manufacturing, prefabrication, BIM, artificial intelligence (AI), modeling (AR/VR, nD modeling), dimensional or geographic survey technologies (laser scanning, drones, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), photogrammetry, GPS), and material tracking (RFID tags, wireless sensor networks). Some of the most promising advances are presented in this chapter.