The article describes how the U.S. Construction Industry is today poised to use new technology and regain preeminence after years of declining productivity and competitiveness. In recent-years, the U.S. Construction industry has found itself in the doldrums. However, today an extraordinary confluence of new technology and a large stable market for construction can bring about a revolution in the industry. The decay of the U.S. infrastructure -- highways, most transit systems, ports, waterways, sewers and other public works -- will provide a market for new construction. Recent advances in computers, robotics, and advanced materials are ready to be harnessed especially in labor-intensive repair and maintenance. The use of knowledge-based systems and computer technologies can help in assessing the condition of old structures. Faster and more reliable inspection techniques such as infrared thermography are becoming available. Knowledge-based systems are valuable in interpreting the readout of sensors. Computer-aided design and knowledge-based systems that provide further advances in design are described. The use of robotics and remote control as aids in construction are described. Such devices can be used in repairing inaccessible structures, handling materials, excavation and transport of earth. Tunneling provides prime opportunities for robots. Recent discoveries in the microscopic structures and properties of materials have lead to the development of useful new compounds and advanced materials. Concretes with microadditives have been used in offshore structures and may prove useful in repairing roads and bridges. Research in ceramics has led to the development of precastable autoclave lightweight ceramic (PALC), an extremely strong material no more costly than conventional building material. The use of cathodic protection for prevention of corrosion on bridges is discussed. The article concludes with a description of barriers (regulations, codes, liabilities) to innovation and how they may be overcome. It is noted that although the construction industry is ready for revolution, the opportunity will be lost if there is no comprehensive R&D policy.

  • Availability:
  • Corporate Authors:

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    Alumni Association
    Cambridge, MA  United States  02139
  • Authors:
    • Moavenzadeh, F
  • Publication Date: 1985-10

Media Info

  • Features: Figures; Tables;
  • Pagination: p. 32-41
  • Serial:
    • Technology Review
    • Volume: 88
    • Issue Number: 7
    • Publisher: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    • ISSN: 1099-274X

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00453681
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 31 1986 12:00AM