Don’t Overlook the Tested for the Techno

by Wendy McBay, on May 03, 2019

Digital innovation is everywhere. From getting a ride using a car share service to “smart” traffic signals that adjust to the flow of cars, to “walking” a client through their un-built office in virtual reality, there is no shortage of innovative digital technology at our fingertips. Technological innovation can address many challenges – especially infrastructure issues – if only we could eliminate two big self-imposed barriers. The first barrier is that the infrastructure industry too easily restricts its view of innovation to digital technology. The other is that infrastructure players too often sweep all innovation into the “too risky” category, dismissing proven analog product advancements along with unproven digital ones.

World Economic ForumA recent report by the World Economic Forum rightly points to innovation as a key component in bridging the funding gap in worldwide infrastructure needs. For engineers and contractors creating the basic structures of modern life that are expected to last decades, adopting novel methods and materials can seem like a daunting level of risk. As the WEF report states: “Why risk millions, sometimes billions, of dollars and many years on something relatively unproven?”

What if, though, adopting an innovation can be a safe bet? Innovation is not limited to the latest “gee-whiz” digital breakthroughs and sometimes innovation can simply mean adopting a proven but under-utilized technology. For example, for decades precast concrete panels were considered useful only for warehouses or industrial buildings. But in recent years, innovative designers and builders looking for ways to accelerate projects and lower costs adopted the proven precast panels in the construction of everything from hotels, to parking terraces to sport stadiums and freeway bridges. Likewise, Tensar’s geogrid technology has proven its effectiveness in settings around the world in applications from road construction to creating stable platforms for utility towers and wind turbines. Tensar’s geogrid products can speed the construction and extend the life of critical infrastructure with a low degree of risk. Tensar’s technology is innovative and has been extensively tested and field-proven to a degree that can give confidence to designers, contractors, developers and owners.


Opportunity Just Ahead


The WEF report concludes that, “Embracing innovation increases efficiency and quality, while reducing errors, delays, and costs. Better integration of new technology into infrastructure development could result in more widely available, sustainable and efficient infrastructure.” We would add that adopting and utilizing proven and innovative solutions – non-digital products like Tensar’s TriAx geogrid - will be the most vital and affordable step towards creating the next generation of critical infrastructure around the world.


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