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Last week I got a new knee—well, more of a rebuilt knee. The surgeon (repair technician) removed the old worn out parts and installed nice shiny new ones made of titanium, zirconium, and high-density plastic guaranteed for high durability. It’s a remarkable advance in technology when you consider that 50 years ago I would have had to just suffer with a worn out knee for the rest of my life. I’d like to file a warranty claim on that joint but am not sure where to send it and I guess I got my money's worth after 65 years of abuse.

Although advances like this in the concrete industry may not happen at the same pace as in medicine and electronics, they do happen and the best place to find out what’s new is at the World of Concrete. You can learn about innovations at other meetings, like ACI conventions, but nowhere is so much concrete knowledge jammed into one place as at the World of Concrete.

Some of the most important advances I see coming to our industry over the next few years, though, are bigger than the impressive new materials, equipment, and technology you'll see at WOC but rather focus on with how we do business. It starts with adopting a collaborative approach in construction, which is effective in almost all circumstances and that starts with design-build (or integrated project delivery) and evolves into lean construction and post-project analysis. Creating a feedback loop to evaluate a project in real time can prevent the same mistakes from happening over and over.

Resilient construction is also becoming a focus. Resilience is different than durability or sustainability; resilience is a structure’s ability to withstand the increasingly common natural and man-made disasters it is subjected to. Green construction (sustainability) has a more immediate benefit and has turned into the way we all work but designing and constructing for the long haul—for 100-year service life—and to withstand hurricanes and fires and floods that people and structures are facing, that’s a new mindset.

If my new knee can last 40 years, I won’t complain but if the structures we’re building and repairing today only last 40 years, that’s unacceptable.