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Quantum leap

After a month of voting for your favourite, CAD/CAM has come out on top as the construction’s greatest ever advance.

More from: Quantum leap

Six months ago, New Civil Engineer along with sister titles Architects Journal and Construction News embarked on the ambitious project to name the all-time greatest advance in the construction world. It was a big challenge, so the magazines invited key industry figures to put forward an impassioned plea for their nominations.

What followed was a flood of suggestions. These ranged from the familiar  – Bovis Lend Lease director Julian Daniel chose the theodolite – to the somewhat obscure – silicone sealant, nominated by Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud.

The final shortlist of 10 was then scrutinised by the public during a month of online voting. The outcome was by no means straightforward. The readers of each magazine favoured different advances. But the combined vote came out in favour of a relatively modern innovation, computer aided design (CAD) with its partner in construction, computer aided manufacture (CAM).



The ability to have computers in the office to feed information to the shop floor has altered the way we work.


Steel is good when it’s exposed and can be easily recycled.

It frees up valuable on site space and ensures quality.  

It has improved timescales and health and safety.

Structural analysis
It allowes us to simulate with greater frequency and accuracy.  

Reinforced concrete  
Just a twist in the mix can make it suitable for all environments.

The theodolite  
It revolutionised our ability to build.

Environmental awareness  
Soils are now retained, improved or cleaned and capped.

Sewers have been fundamental to the expansion of cities.

Health and safety
It is now understood throughout the whole management chain.     

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