Technology Survey (Archived)

RT-015 Topic Summary
RT 015


The development of a formalized mechanism to identify new technologies was initiated by conducting an extensive literature search. This search was necessary to establish a knowledge base associated with construction areas and the nature of research and development taking place. Establishing a formalized mechanism was necessary to facilitate a repeatable ongoing survey and identification of innovative technologies.

Over 300 technologies were identified by the Technology Survey Task Force. These technologies are housed in the Advanced Construction Technology Systems (ACTS), a computer software database developed by the task force. The ACTS database has been designed for classifying, documenting, and retrieving information about emerging construction technologies. Specifically, ACTS can help the industry improve its productivity through dissemination of information.

The long-range plan for ACTS is that it be an ongoing information service to the construction industry. The task force strongly recommends that individual companies utilize ACTS as a method of collecting their own innovations and disseminating them within their organization and jobsites. The availability of the information contained in the system should quicken the pace of technology utilization in the industry and contribute toward cost effectiveness, productivity, and overall competitiveness.

Besides research efforts in developing ACTS, the task force also investigated emerging construction technologies that have the potential to improve construction efficiency and effectiveness. The Business Roundtable Construction Industry Cost Effectiveness (CICE) Project identified three areas of construction where emerging technologies have the highest payoff potential: steel and concrete structural construction, electrical and instrumentation construction, and piping and mechanical construction.

The type, amount, and organization of information about each technology in the ACTS database are determined by a standard format developed by the research team and the members of the CII Technology Survey Task Force. The system includes technologies that relate to civil, architectural, electrical, instrumentation, mechanical, and piping systems.                                          

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : Call for Action

Much of construction technology R&D appears to stress materials and design criteria research. The materials research is often driven by owner desires for lower initial cost, better quality, and improved durability. However, the development of new materials and improved design criteria should be encouraged by CII and carried to construction as an opportunity to reduce costs. (RS15-1, p. 26)
Reference: (RS15-1)

2 : Product Stage Technologies

Perception of what is a new technology may vary with different individuals and companies depending upon whether it has been encountered previously. Thus, ACTS also includes some product stage technologies that particular companies may already have in active use. (RS15-1, p. 2)
Reference: (RS15-1)

3 : Research Funding

Very little research is funded to improve the construction process since the owner has traditionally been less concerned with how the contractor achieved the requirements. Most of the construction process R&D has been privately funded by vendors to the industry in the form of proprietary product development. (RS15-1, p. 3)
Reference: (RS15-1)

4 : Technology Infrastructure

Computers are getting more powerful and yet less expensive thereby allowing computer-aided design (CAD), 3-D modeling, and virtual reality systems to make a significant impact on design and construction of piping. (RS15-1, p. 11)
Reference: (RS15-1)

5 : Maintenance Technology

As our infrastructure ages, it is important to develop efficient maintenance technologies. Future research points to techniques that decrease disruption of services, reduce costs, increase labor productivity, and promote quality. (RS15-1, p. 13)
Reference: (RS15-1)

6 : Path Forward

Relatively few technologies under development appear to focus on construction processes. The industry needs to develop a strategy to encourage more groups to focus efforts on technology research related to construction processes. (RS15-1, p. 26)
Reference: (RS15-1)

7 : Implementation Tool #1

RS15-1, Advanced Construction Technology System (ACTS)

Is a computer database designed for the classification, documentation, and retrieval of information about emerging construction technologies. Describes emerging technologies in the areas of steel and concrete construction, electrical and instrumentation construction, and piping and mechanical construction. (Note: this database is archived and no longer supported.)  (RS15-1, p. 16)
Reference: (RS15-1)

Key Performance Indicators

Improved cost, Improved schedule, Improved performance/achieved success, Improved engineering productivity, Improved design

Research Publications

Emerging Construction Technologies and the Advanced Construction Technology System (ACTS) - RS15-1

Publication Date: 12/1994 Type: Research Summary Pages: 38 Status: Archived Tool

Emerging Technologies for Concrete and Steel Construction - SD-81

Publication Date: 10/1992 Type: Source Document Pages: 258 Status: Archived Reference

Emerging Technologies for Electrical and Instrumentation Construction - SD-78

Publication Date: 10/1992 Type: Source Document Pages: 286 Status: Archived Reference