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Machine Control Key to Attracting New Talent in Construction, Report Finds

Machine control – the automation of construction equipment – is key to attracting new talent and addressing the skills shortage in the sector, according to construction professionals surveyed in a new report by Topcon Positioning Systems.

Three-quarters (77 percent) of those surveyed in the report – which polled 1,000 decision makers in construction companies across Europe – agree that machine control is a top solution to attracting the best talent to the industry.

With many experienced machinery operators approaching retirement and the construction sector failing to attract the next generation, there is a growing skills gap in the industry. In fact, 30 percent of respondents to the survey agree that skills shortages are one of the biggest challenges they face on earthworks projects alone. 

As well as addressing the battle for talent, respondents in Topcon’s report believe machine control may be the answer to making the sector more sustainable – a pressure felt by 30 percent of those surveyed. When asked which factors they thought would be most important in helping to meet sustainability targets, machine control was the most selected option, alongside improving supply chains. Sustainability was also chosen as one of the top three perceived benefits of machine control together with improving accuracy and efficiency.

Despite overwhelming agreement that automation is a significant tool for closing the skills gap and creating a greener future, its use on construction projects across Europe remains limited. According to the report, machine control is currently used on just a third (34 percent) of construction projects on average, with most respondents (72 percent) using the technology on less than half of their projects and just 1 percent using it without exception.

When asked what they thought was holding back machine control adoption in the sector, respondents most frequently pointed to a lack of government initiatives or support for technology adoption, followed by a lack of buy-in from senior decision makers. And 70 percent agreed that legislators could be doing more to mandate and incentivize digital adoption.

Topcon’s Luc Le Maire, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Positioning Solutions Business Unit in EMEA, said, “With our new report, The Future of Machine Control, we set out to build a picture of machine control from the point of view of those in the position to implement it. We surveyed 1,000 managers, directors and business owners from construction companies across Europe to find out how they’re currently using machine control, their understanding of the benefits, what they believe to be the barriers to adoption, and their predictions for its future.

“What the research has revealed is an industry that is waking up to the power of automation in driving the sector forward, but which appears to be held back by a lot of red tape. What’s evident is that if we want to make positive change – attract the next generation of talent, meet net zero targets, be more profitable – we cannot do so in isolation. If we’re to realize the full potential of machine control and do what’s right for the industry, a commitment is required across the board.” 

To view The Future of Machine Control report in full, visit https://www.topconpositioning.com/future-machine-control-2023-report
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