The two major issues with asphalt roadways are their lifespan and their vulnerability to weather and temperature. The optimum lifespan of an asphalt road is about 25 years and that is dependent on a large variety of factors. In the Northern United States, this lifespan could substantially less, 15 to 20 years. One of the largest frustrations with our current road systems is the time it takes to build and resurface roadways. Many of the solutions proposed are costly and un-sustainable.
Spearheaded by Dutch company VolkerWessels a new innovative solution called Project Plastic Road looks to solve many of the issues that plague our current road infrastructure. Plastic Road's proposed road system will be modular and made out of entirely 100% recycled materials. The idea is to turn recycled plastic into modular prefabricated roads that can be dropped into place. VolkerWessels claims that this system could have a longevity of 3 times more than asphalt, and because the pieces are modular and interchangeable replacing a road could take a fraction of the time it takes now.
According to VolkerWessels, using Project Plastic Road opens up innovations that asphalt does not have the ability to incorporate. Roads can be fitted for power generation, quiet road surfaces, heated roads and, of course, modular replaceable road panels.
One of the things that stands out to me about this product is the ability to have lines in the road be integral and not fade, as well as having the ability to run city infrastructure through the hollow core could really be a game changer for how city infrastructure is planned and implemented.
There’s no shortage of company’s trying to improve the world’s roadways. Asphalt and concrete each have their own disadvantages, especially when maintenance environmental factors are taken into consideration. Plastic is a major problem for landfills, as well, as it can take an estimated 500 years to fully decompose. One UK company believes they can solve both maintenance and environmental problems through the use of recycled plastic.
Feeling the pressure of 9 straight quarters with a decline in total revenue, Caterpillar has acquired the equipment sharing startup, Yard Club, to get help dig themselves out of the dirt. Their most recent quarter was the company’s first positive revenue quarter since November of 2012.
I’m a firm believer that before robots start taking over construction jobs, we’ll first be working with robotics to make workers more efficient and our job sites more functional. Instead of using 3D printing robots to build an entire project, why not use them first to create intricate details and bring character back to buildings? Instead of pushing human labor out of the way, why not use robotics to enhance the abilities of our workers, to improve their health and productivity? With rise in development commercial exoskeletons, workers will soon be able to harness additional strength by just slipping on a suit.
Last year, Tesla announced a new disruptive product to the market in the form of solar roof shingles. Unlike traditional solar roof panels, these shingles mimic the look of traditional terra cotta, clay, and slate tiles, creating a more aesthetically pleasing look. This week, the company began taking pre-orders for the roof shingles and also released a cost calculator.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is constantly researching ways to improve construction process and materials, like this material 10 times the strength of steel, or this solar cell that’s lighter than a soap bubble, or this “reversible concrete.” This time the Institute is showing off its autonomous robot that can spit out building structures on site within hours.
Tracking employees instantaneously is a dream scenario for employers. It gives them tons of data to analyze to determine where money can be saved and where resources can be placed to be most efficient. The struggle is convincing the employees that tracking their every move is not going to get them in trouble or fired. There’s a balance in there somewhere and that’s the challenge facing both employers and tech companies right now.
Two of the most critical concepts of construction safety are the ability to see what you’re doing and to also be seen by others around you. Construction workers rely heavily on their employer providing lighting systems when working in low light conditions, but those systems are not always adequate.
There’s no doubt that the construction industry is behind when it comes to technology, but things are beginning to change. In the past few years, our industry has seen millions of dollars poured into new technology, including smartphone apps, advanced construction materials, and advanced safety equipment. One of the struggles –and perhaps the main struggle- with introducing new technology to the field staff is that many of them have been managing their jobs the same way for a long time. It can be difficult to convince them to change, especially if they have been successful with their current process.
It’s that time again to begin Construction Junkie’s annual search for the best construction podcast! Last year, newcomer to the scene ConTechTrio took home the crown for best podcast and they’re continuing to make waves on the platform, with interviews with heavy hitter guests from the world of construction each episode. 2015’s winner was Cesar Abeid’s Construction Industry Podcast, but unfortunately there have not been any new shows released since August of 2015.
read on to nominate your favorite podcast