As the construction industry nears capacity, it is often not a question of if a project will be delayed, but when and for how long. 

Construction companies are increasingly expected to deliver more projects, often on a shorter timeline, while facing continued issues around labour shortages and material costs.

Five year demand for major public infrastructure has grown more than $15 billion in 2022, a year when spending on major public buildings topped $59 billion, according to Infrastructure Australia. Meanwhile, Australia is rocketing towards record high levels of road construction, with a planned peak spending of $29.2 billion in 2023-24.

In the next 12 months, the industry will face growing pressure to keep up amid difficult and unexpected market conditions. A likely result will be a dramatic slowing of progress, with projects stagnating, missing deadlines and taking much longer to complete than originally expected. Industry experts warn that we’re already seeing early signs of this, signalled by a drop in total overall industry investments.

All of these factors — steep rises in demand, labour shortages and material costs — have brought an air of trepidation to project outcomes, particularly when it comes to whether projects can be delivered on time. 

To combat this uncertainty, Infrastructure Australia identified productivity improvements as a key area of opportunity. Because it is difficult to attract and attain skilled labourers, and material costs are set to remain high, productivity gains will be a crucial factor in making sure projects are delivered on time. For all its challenges, the current market landscape offers a unique moment for civil construction operators to focus on implementing new methods, equipment and processes that streamline productivity and improve outcomes.

A major roadblock to productivity in civil construction is the expensive and often unsafe process of drilling and blasting away hard rock on a construction site. Hitting hard rock is a huge productivity disruptor, and for projects like developments, real estate, basements and underground car parks, it can mean massive schedule delays due to the time it takes to carefully drill, blast, and then remove the debris in a safe manner. This process is time-consuming, often requires multiple teams and safety experts to ensure minimal disruption to nearby traffic and infrastructure.

Many civil construction projects are responding by drawing on a solution used in mining — surface miners — to replace traditional drill and blast methods. Surface miners have the power to carve through hard rock, minimising risk to traffic and nearby infrastructure, while requiring less crew on-site. These machines allow for efficient and methodical preparation of a site, and can move through layer-by-layer to remove ground surface, creating a smooth area.

In addition to productivity gains, surface miners typically require just one operator, and can eliminate safety challenges associated with drilling and blasting. Vermeer’s range of surface miners further optimise site productivity by allowing for easy manoeuvrability and better precision when removing hard rock in confined spaces. 

These machines are also compatible with the On-board Dust Suppression System, which reduces the need for an external power source and operator, cutting costs on labour and equipment, while making sure the project is delivered on deadline.

This sponsored editorial is brought to you by Vermeer Australia. For further information, please visit

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