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Construction Tools & Equipment

The Construction Tools & Equipment Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about Trucks, Cranes & Earth Moving Equipment; Construction Tools; Safety, Maintainence & Repair; and Smart Machines & Management Software. Here, you'll find everything from application ideas, to news and industry trends, to hot topics and cutting edge innovations.

Ease Your Muscle Strain When Hammering

Posted March 20, 2017 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

A shock-absorbing hammer may reduce arm muscle strain and consequently reduce the risk of tennis elbow for users. This conclusion was reached by an engineering team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison after ergonomic testing requested by the hammer's manufacturer, Fiskars.


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9 comments; last comment on 03/21/2017
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A Vertical Solar Wall Grows in the Bronx

Posted February 07, 2017 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

A 37 kW photovoltaic system integrated into the south-facing wall will offset the Simpson Pavilion in the Bronx’s energy use by 10% over the next 25 years. The pavilion is a LEED-certified Gold building that forms part of a network of community health centers.


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Building a Bridge Over the Bering Sea

Posted January 18, 2017 1:36 PM by HUSH
Pathfinder Tags: alaska Bering bridge Russia tunnel

The most widely-accepted explanation for the settlement of the Americas by indigenous peoples is that, between 16,500 and 11,000 years ago, several thousand ‘paleoamericans’ crossed a grassland steppe that today is Far East Russia, the floor of the Bering Sea, and Alaska. During the Late Glacial period, this area wasn’t frozen over and sea levels were low enough that not only were people able to cross between Asia and North America, but civilizations thrived here. Even though it is a hypothesis, it is the most widely-regarded explanation of how native populations dispersed into the Americas.

In a twist of irony, the area of Earth that made humans a multi-hemisphere species is now the boundary between bitter rivals: the United States and Russian Federation. At just 55 miles apart, Uelen village of the Autonomous Okrug territory and Tin City Air Force Base in Alaska could be connected by a modern bridge or tunnel. The result would be being able to drive from New York City to London, a trip of 13,000 miles, in about 10 days or so.

It seems like a given that any transportation link between the two countries would cross the Diomede Islands, two islands lying in the middle of the Bearing Strait, with the U.S. claiming the smaller, eastern one, and Russia claiming the western, larger island. With shallow seas and moderate tides and currents, a bridge is technically feasible. (You can illegally walk between the islands in winter.)

Yet the climate is the largest challenge. Construction would occur less than six months at a time, and exposed steelwork would have to be minimized to reduce maintenance work. A plan submitted by noted civil engineer T.Y. Lin in the 1980s for the International Peace Bridge called for almost all steel bridge components, including cables, to be encased in concrete. If the bridge were to be built, it would need a lot of extra lighting, as it would be completely in the dark for parts of the year. Bridge maintenance, especially snow and ice removal, would be considerably expensive.

While a tunnel would be more expensive to build initially, it might be cheaper in the long run due to lesser maintenance expenses. Again the tunnel would follow the path of the Diomede Islands, with the islands serving as ventilation shafts and tunnel support centers (and possibly a hotel, per Interbering). Even though such an excavation would rival the largest infrastructure projects in history, there is no standing evidence that such a tunnel is impossible. Additionally, a tunnel could have more space for pipelines and railways, adding to the project’s profitability.

Of course, the main barrier for such a bridge or tunnel isn’t engineering or even financial, despite a reputed $66 to $100 billion to provide such a link (plus the road and rail connections on both sides). Instead, there is little political willpower in the United States for a project that won’t reward politicians or the populace, but rather rich companies. These are the exact motivations for more recent bids by Russian and Chinese companies to provide pipeline and rail links for the energy industries. Adrian Shirk, writing for The Atlantic, believes perhaps the U.S. should try to build the bridge for the sake of ambition, similar to how the moon landing offered no payoff other than the feeling of accomplishment.

My guess is that we’ll only provide a physical link between the United States and Russia once the figurative boundaries erode. I don’t think it will happen in my lifetime.

16 comments; last comment on 01/24/2017
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More Infrastructure Failures Likely as U.S. Assets Age

Posted December 13, 2016 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

According to Fitch Ratings, the frequency and severity of infrastructure failures will increase in the U.S. in the coming years unless the country puts forth renewed attention and ongoing investment. Fitch's 2016 Water and Sewer Medians reported that capital spending dropped to the lowest level the agency has observed since publishing its annual medians.


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Managing Energy Use in Commercial Buildings

Posted November 17, 2016 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

Two main strategies exist for reducing both the total energy consumption and the waste in buildings: switch to energy-efficient devices such as LED lighting and cooling systems; and install programmable control systems. But the benefits of energy efficiency can be slow in coming.


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