Best of Bauma – Digitisation of the industry

An industry evolving

Digitisation is gaining ground in the construction machinery industry. More and more technologies are making their way into the industry. Cloud-based infrastructures, digital services portfolios and security solutions are ringing in a change of paradigm. During Bauma this month, the world’s leading manufacturers will be presenting their developments demonstrating that it is possible to realise and automate construction projects more efficiently, faster and more cost-effectively without having to sacrifice quality. In order to achieve this, all stakeholders must, for instance, be perfectly connected with each other, and the processes must be handled electronically. Initial systems for these purposes already exist. They can be seen at Bauma, the world’s leading trade fair for construction machinery, building material machines, mining machines, construction vehicles and construction equipment.

“The digitisation of the construction industry is becoming increasingly important. Many construction machines are already equipped with communication interfaces that provide comprehensive data, e.g. on location and consumption. This development is also reflected at bauma 2019. They will not only be able to find out about initial technologies, but also exchange views with the exhibitors about their potential,” says Mareile Kästner, project manager at Bauma.

Coordinating all the activities of several construction sites, sometimes located thousands of miles apart, at the same time—this is no longer a vision of the future. Already today, cloud-based solutions enable projects like these. Planning, implementation, monitoring and optimisation of construction projects are consequently running fully digitised.

Construction site vehicles can now even be controlled and managed by various technologies. For example, special sensors register the direction of rotation of concrete mixing vehicles and thus record the unloading process. And digitisation does not stop at height either. Cranes at various locations, for instance, are already controlled remotely from a central control centre so that they can carry out their work ‘driverless’.

Digital innovations are increasingly shaping our everyday lives—including in the construction machinery industry. Thanks to virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), users can now experience construction sites virtually and be part of the story in the middle of the action. It is not just an experience with deceptively real sensations and high entertainment value. VR and AR can be used to present products in the development phase, prototypes, or future scenarios and explain them in a completely new way. This opens up a whole host of new opportunities for companies.

“With our digital construction site, we have created a platform that enables exhibitors’ products to be experienced not only at the actual exhibition stand but in any location. We offer the virtual exhibition space within a VR Experience. For the first time, companies at bauma 2019 will be able to present themselves completely digitally,” says Kästner.

It is a virtual experience with high added value for daily business, opening up completely new possibilities for planning and development, but also basic/further training or sales. “Anyone wanting to train their apprentices under realistic conditions – in machine maintenance, for example – or looking to explain the inner workings of a crane to the customer, no longer has to even leave the site,” explains Kästner.

Maria Scully of Trimble Civil Engineering and Construction highlights the potential of VR/AR for Trimble’s business: “We will connect construction by offering a suite of integrated solutions. Solutions that provide seamless data movement and data visualisation. SiteVision is an example of this, a new solution providing high-accuracy outdoor augmented reality for the construction industry. The VR Experience at bauma will not only introduce and highlight the benefits of SiteVision, it will unleash the possibilities of what VR and AR technology can be used for in construction.”

“As an innovative mechanical engineering company, we see promising opportunities for our organization in the possibilities offered by digitalisation. For example, topics such as virtual reality enable us to also present our construction hoists and industrial elevators to international customers in a lifelike environment. We look forward to being involved in the VR Experience at bauma 2019,” says Jürgen Deffner, head of marketing at GEDA.

With the bauma VR Experience, it is not simply about just incorporating a digital format into the classic trade fair business: “It definitely gets emotional! It will be an unforgettable experience, especially when the surface of the earth opens and the elevator takes the visitor to lofty heights,” says Kästner. Visitors and exhibitors can get an accurate impression of this at bauma 2019 in hall B0.

Continental, which will be familiar to readers as a tyre company but as MECN’s sister publication T&FME learned recently is moving into the technology space, is presenting its new ContiLogger consultancy concept which incorporates tyres, hardware, software and data. This allows Continental to link end customer and Continental expertise even more closely.

When using the ContiLogger service, a Continental engineer will first conduct a field study to understand the working environment in which the tires will operate.

They will also use a data logger to measure speed, distance, location, lateral forces, elevation change, road grade, cycle downtime and the pressure and temperature of the tires. By analysing this on-site data, the engineer can identify data-driven observations. After revising and analysing the data, the engineer will make recommendations regarding significant tire challenges and possible application improvements aimed at optimizing tire and equipment life and improving operational processes.

“This is a holistic concept because it involves evaluating the application as a whole. We see this as extremely important in the OTR earthmoving business, where conditions are exceptionally harsh and the high cost of replacing tires means that proper tire servicing and consulting are essential,” says Enno Straten, head of Continental Commercial Specialty Tires (CST).

The construction machinery industry is increasingly opting for alternative drives. In the future there will no longer be one single typical drive system but instead an increasingly wide range of competing drive systems on the market. Electromobility and driverless vehicles in particular are seen as key future drivers.

“We have identified that electromobility and driverless vehicles are two areas that are increasingly gaining traction with manufacturers and service providers in the construction machinery industry. As such, we intend to provide these hot topics with a platform at bauma 2019. The important thing to note is that we won’t only be showcasing the diverse range of possible applications of leading exhibitors’ products but will also be providing a platform for discussing the aims, potential and sustainability of new technology,” says Kästner.

Producing cleaner, quieter and more efficient machinery is the future aim of electrification, according to many manufacturers of construction machinery. In fact, more and more companies are already upgrading smaller machines in the lower power range with electric drives. There is also growing interest in hybrid vehicles. As such, systems, which can handle light work but then engage a combustion engine where maximum power is required, are already under development.

Solutions to enable driverless construction machinery already exist in certain areas of the mining industry and other related areas. They are particularly suitable for use in quarries as the same routes are always followed from the actual quarrying site to the processing area. There are also future plans for excavators, which, for example, will be able to dig excavation pits autonomously. Although a lot of preparatory work has already been done, driverless machines are not yet something which can be fully accomplished or implemented due to the safety aspects involved at complex construction sites. The latest developments of leading manufacturers all around the world will therefore be the hot topic under the spotlight.

The “Driverless Vehicles, Electromobility & Electric Drives and Zero Emissions” area will focus primarily on aspects regarding autonomous driving.

Will there only be autonomous and networked systems in the future? Are we now digitalising everything? Not everything that is technologically possible is also useful and cost-effective. As such, exhibitors and trade fair attendees will have the opportunity to question aims and provide fitting responses together.

MECN is collaborating with Construction Machinery News Middle East magazine to preview Bauma 2019. Look out for our special hot list of equipment as part of our special coverage before and during the event. 

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