Technology Strategy (Archived)

RT-046 Topic Summary
RT 046


The Construction Industry Institute (CII) has identified a need to advance construction through the development and implementation of technology. Particularly, research related to construction means and methods is minimal compared to other industries and topics within the construction field. Inadequate R&D on construction means and methods results in a lower availability of technologies for workers to apply, and thus, lower productivity, quality, and effectiveness.

The CII Technology Strategy Task Force (RT-46) was formed to develop a strategy for the industry to follow in making this advance. The main goal of the RT-46 was “to develop a strategy to advance the industry through technology.” RT-46 identified the need to better understand how and why managers in construction firms make decisions to adopt or reject a new technology, what factors affect such decisions, and how existing industry conditions inhibit innovation. A research project was funded by CII to study forces affecting the level of research activity related to construction means and methods R&D in the public sector.

Multiple studies were conducted by the Task Force with the goals/objectives:

  • To identify forces affecting development of advanced means and methods technologies for contractor use
  • To increase understanding of the barriers to construction technology R&D
  • To provide information, ideas, and data contributing to the formation of a strategy to advance construction through means and methods technology R&D

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : Research Funding

The level of funding for construction-related research is frequently cited as being low. However, funding of research for construction means and methods is even more neglected, especially considering the potential for cost benefit. (RR46-11, p. 1)
Reference: (RR46-11)

2 : Research Funding Agency Focus

Funding agencies have traditionally focused on research to support the owner and designer in specifying material performance and supporting development of design criteria. The construction process has been viewed as the responsibility of private sector industry. (RR46-11, p. 68)
Reference: (RR46-11)

3 : Contractor Involvement in Funding

Contractors don’t generally fund research, but they need to participate and to use some of their influence to get agencies to understand the need for and fund construction means and methods R&D that will ultimately benefit the public owner, the taxpayer, through lower initial and long term costs. (RR46-11, p. 75)
Reference: (RR46-11)

4 : Research Prioritization

Funding agencies need to better understand the economics of project delivery in prioritizing research, and to place more emphasis on the construction process. Savings in initial labor costs from use of effective technology could be invested in higher quality materials to reduce life-cycle costs. (RR46-11, p. 75)
Reference: (RR46-11)

5 : University Construction Programs

University construction programs must stress the importance of engineering the construction process including more emphasis on education and research concerning construction means and methods technologies and methods for identification and evaluation of technologies. (RR46-11, p. 75)
Reference: (RR46-11)

6 : Research Means and Methods

Means and methods technology use must be effectively designed into the construction process by the contractor. Contractors must place more emphasis on engineering the construction process. (RR46-11, p. 75)
Reference: (RR46-11)

7 : The Owner’s Role in Research

Owners’ demand can create the necessary market forces for contractors to utilize value-adding technology. To foster such market forces owners should first increase knowledge of the benefits of new technologies and the opportunity costs of not using them. This will encourage changing the procurement paradigm, by using technological capabilities as criterion for contractors’ selection. (RR46-12, p. ii)
Reference: (RR46-12)

8 : The Owner’s Role in Research Implementation

Owners need to require the use of new technologies and consider designers’ and contractor’s technological capabilities as criteria for selection. This requires change from the current procurement paradigm of using low price as the only significant criterion for selecting contractors. Adding technical capability as another serious criterion will create strong market forces for technological advancement. (RR46-12, p. 32)
Reference: (RR46-12)

9 : Risk Mitigation for Utilizing New Technology

Sharing the risks and costs of new technologies will directly remove disincentives from designers and contractors who may reject a new technology because of uncertain benefits and costs. Owners must establish strong cooperation between all parties. (RR46-12, p. 32)
Reference: (RR46-12)

Key Performance Indicators

Improved cost, Improved schedule, Improved quality (reduced errors & omissions)

Research Publications

Finding Technology Payback Potential - RR46-12

Publication Date: 10/1996 Type: Research Report Pages: 36 Status: Archived Reference

Forces Affecting Opportunities for Construction Means and Methods R&D in the Public Sector - RR46-11

Publication Date: 05/1996 Type: Research Report Pages: 106 Status: Archived Reference