Rebuilding confidence in innovative technologies

Property and Construction July 08, 2019

Building magazine, a construction industry publication, has published an interview with George Tuckwell, RSK geosciences and engineering divisional director. George details the strong resistance he witnessed to innovative technology because it was dismissed as expensive and high risk. But, he says, with the right funding, collaborations and client engagement, cutting-edge solutions can be brought to market.

“Some industries are driven by new technology and embrace it readily. The construction industry can be more conservative,” begins George. “Tried and tested solutions are naturally favoured, and there’s a desire to just get on with the job, rather than doing something innovative that might carry some perceived risk. However, there are some problems which new technology can solve.”

George gives the example of unforeseen ground conditions which he says, “pose one of the largest risks to any construction project”. Traditional technologies such as ground penetrating radar or electromagnetic conductivity may not be able to detect some hazards beyond their limits.

The best technology in this instance, George continues, would be the new gravity instrument, developed by the consortium of leading scientific and engineering companies in the Gravity Pioneer project (led by RSK). The technique will “detect underground voids, pipes or tunnels better than any current technology”.

Although in its early stages of development, George is confident that the technology will soon be brought to market. To get there, however, the consortium must navigate the challenges set up by the creators of new technologies in the past, which have been brought to market too early, oversold or incorrectly presented. The result of this “can be reaffirmed reluctance to try anything new again”. George believes that “continual engagement with end users throughout the technology development process” is crucial to reassuring the market. Another way to restore users’ confidence in new technologies is to present demonstrations that are verified by results from traditional technologies.

“Used intelligently and in combination,” concludes George, “new technology can greatly reduce intrusive digging and provide the lowest possible ground risk at the lowest cost.”

You can read the full article online via the Building website.