What happened in Vegas: Conexpo-Con/AGG 2017

North America’s largest equipment exhibition pointed the way to a more connected and high-tech future while maintaining its tradition of new product launches from major global manufacturers

The largest overall trade show in the United States, the triennial Conexpo-Con/AGG and IFPE, grew even bigger when it was held in Las Vegas in March this year.

The 2017 show spanned a record 2.8 million-plus net square feet of exhibits, with a record 2,800-plus exhibitors from leading US and global manufacturers, from multinational giants to small firms with specialised products.

This year’s show was also looking into the future as it revealed the world’s first 3D-printed excavator and the new Tech Experience, as well as holding a record number of education sessions and other show floor enhancements.

“Our shows are renowned as an industry showcase of ‘what’s next,’ and this year’s show did not disappoint,” said Rich Goldsbury, 2017 Conexpo-Con/AGG chair and president and CEO of Doosan Bobcat North America and Oceania. “From the new Tech Experience, which highlighted the vital connection between technology and construction, to the culmination of AEM’s Infrastructure Vision 2050 Challenge, this year’s show demonstrated the rapid innovation in our industry.”

The technological changes revolutionising construction and manufacturing were a central feature throughout the show. The first-ever Tech Experience pavilion attracted solid traffic throughout the week, according to show organisers, as attendees flocked to see the world’s first 3D-printed excavator, hear from industry innovators during a collection of Tech Talks and engage with the conclusion of the Infrastructure Vision 2050 Challenge Finale, which awarded $100,000 in prize money to winners over a crowdsourced competition to develop forward-looking infrastructure solutions.

“Keeping pace with technology is critical for our industry’s success and the 3D-printed excavator featuring fluid power innovations is a perfect example of the show’s future-forward commitment to explore innovations that are happening now and the exciting possibilities ahead,” said Robert Mortensen, IFPE 2017 chair and president of HUSCO International.

The new Tech Experience at Conexpo-Con/AGG and IFPE 2017 shone a spotlight on the technology throughout the show floor, with an emphasis on emerging construction innovations that are driving change and process improvements across the industry.

Three interactive zones gave attendees a first-hand glimpse at the technologies shaping the job-sites of tomorrow, infrastructure development and workforce development.

The world’s first fully functional 3D-printed excavator anchored the Tech Experience, with a 3D Printworks further exploring additive manufacturing’s possibilities for construction applications.

Talking technology

The Tech Talks forum at the Tech Experience gave attendees a chance to hear from global innovators and technology leaders to discuss what lies ahead.

The forum’s content-rich presentations aimed to inspire and inform attendees, with an emphasis on applied and blue-sky innovation to benefit infrastructure projects and construction job-sites.

Conexpo 2017 offered a record 143 education sessions grouped into 10 tracks, including a new Technology track. IFPE 2017 hosted the industrywide Energy Efficient Hydraulics and Pneumatics Conference, in addition to hands-on ‘college courses’ on effective use of hydraulics in mobile equipment.

On the show floor, IFPE 2017 featured the Power Transmission Distributors Association (PTDA) exhibit pavilion, and Conexpo-Con/AGG 2017 included the Demolition & Recycling exhibit pavilion from the Construction and Demolition Recycling Association (CDRA) and the Lift Safety Zone from the National Commission for Certification of Crane Operators and International Powered Access Federation.

Eight country-specific international exhibit pavilions reinforced the global scope of the shows and expanded business contacts between attendees and exhibitors: IFPE with China, Italy, Korea and Taiwan, Conexpo with China, Germany, Korea and the UK.

The event also raised $100,000 to help military veterans find quality through multiple charitable events throughout the week.

“These new benefit events offered the opportunity for Conexpo participants to not only network and have fun but also rally together as a construction industry community to raise funds to support military veterans,” said Sara Truesdale Mooney, show director and AEM vice president exhibitions and business development.

More than 200 US and international allied industry and business organisations signed on as official supporting organisations and more than 300 as supporting media.

“Our ability to work with competitors to organise this event provides an added benefit and contributes to the show, exhibitor and attendees’ success. As we have said before, this is a show put on by the industry for the industry,” said Mike Haberman, president of Gradall Industries and Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) 2017 Chair.

“Here we can share ideas and knowledge that will help the construction industry to grow and prosper.”

The shows also received US Department of Commerce (DOC) International Buyer Program status, signifying their status as a leading worldwide event, and offered a variety of services to facilitate international industry participation, including an International Trade Centre on-site.

Terex Cranes: A broad spectrum

With several product premieres and displays, Terex Cranes presented a broad spectrum of its lifting products at Conexpo, covering telescopic cranes, crawler cranes, tower cranes and rough-terrain cranes.

Terex introduced the Demag AC 100/4 mobile crane for the first time in the US, calling it the strongest 100t four-axle crane at maximum counterweight. The maximum load moment of this mobile crane is 308 metre tonnes and its system length is 77m, with a 50m telescopic boom plus 27m of main boom extension. The carrier engine is a liquid-cooled DaimlerChrysler unit delivering 445hp, and the separate superstructure engine has an output of 175hp.

In crawler cranes, the new HC 230 offers 230t of lifting capacity at a reach of 4.2m when equipped with a 77 SI boom/Hammerhead tip. At 4.8m reach with a 92 HI boom/offset tip, capacity is 230t well. The maximum length of the main boom is 88m and an impressive 119m with a boom extension. The crane is equipped with a load-sensing hydraulic system and is powered by a six-cylinder 325HP Cummins engine.

In the rough-terrain crane segment, Terex showed off its RT1120 model. A five-section, three-mode boom forms the basis for the boom system. The basic hook height is 47.2m and a bi-fold jib and two additional jib inserts increase hook height to 82.6m.

The stinger-class BT 4792 boom truck crane that Terex displayed has a lifting capacity of 21.3t and total weight of 27.2t. A working cage and working platform can be easily attached to the crane and can support two people at a height of 43.8m with a main boom extension.

In the tower crane segment, Terex showed off a new range of Flat Top tower cranes from its Terex Comedil brand. The CTT series starts with the 10t and 12t CTT 231 with new models to follow. It has a maximum jib length of 70m and a minimum of 30m. Its maximum jib end capacity of 2.1t makes it capable of lifting heavy loads at a distance. Terex says its loading chart decreases significantly less steeply compared to other similar cranes.

Manitowoc: An uplifting collection

The very latest in lifting technology was on show at the Manitowoc booth, where the company displayed a collection of its newest products from across its range of crawler cranes, all-terrain cranes, rough-terrain cranes, boom trucks, tower cranes and self-erecting cranes.

Among the cranes the company showed off were the Grove GMK5250L and the GMK5150L all-terrain cranes, both appearing for the first time at a North American trade show. Both models are mounted on five-axle carriers, and have boom lengths of 70m on the 250t GMK5250L and 60m on the 150t GMK5150L – the longest in their classes.

Another Grove mobile crane on display was the GRT880 from the line of rough-terrain cranes. This new 75t capacity unit boasts a new design which also features on the company’s GRT8100, and incorporates Manitowoc’s Crane Control System (CCS).

Meanwhile, there were three machines on show from the Potain brand of tower cranes: one new self-erecting crane, plus two top-slewing tower cranes. The self-erecting crane is the Hup 40-30, appearing at a major exhibition for the first time, headlined by a design that offers 16 different configuration options. Technology features strongly too, with the Hup 40-30 including a new remote control, Potain’s Smart Set Up software and High Performance Lifting (HPL) winch technology.

Of the two Potain top-slewing cranes, the MD 559 showcased how CCS technology has been incorporated into Potain’s line of high-capacity MD cranes. From the topless range of Potain cranes, the company displayed the MDT 219, the highest capacity model in the MDT CCS City tower range, which was introduced in 2016.

Manitowoc’s National Crane brand saw an all-new boom truck series making its tradeshow debut. The NBT40-1 series, a new trio of boom truck cranes fully compliant with ANSI A92.2 and ASME B30.5 ratings as well as OSHA standards, offers customers the versatility of both a boom truck and an aerial lift, making it especially useful for the utility industry.

Volvo CE: Flagship wheel loader leads the way

The star event for Volvo CE at Conexpo this year was the unveiling of its largest ever wheel loader, the L350H. The Swedish giant also debuted other new models, launched new services and showcased 28 machines at its stand.

The new flagship 50t-class wheel loader was the biggest news of the show for Volvo. The all-new L350H is fitted with next-generation hydraulics and powered by a Volvo Tier 4 Final D16 engine, for high torque at low rpm. Volvo says the L350H now comes with a larger 7.3m3 bucket for maximum performance.

Also claiming the limelight in Las Vegas was the L350H’s little brother, the L260H. Designed for heavy-duty applications, the 34t machine is purpose-built to load on-highway trucks in just two even passes.

Alongside the loaders, road machinery was in focus at the show, with new innovative compactors added to the Volvo line-up. Fitted with the flexibility of Volvo’s oscillation technology, which eliminates vertical vibrations, the double drum DD105 OSC offers high compaction performance while producing an undamaging oscillation movement. Volvo explains that this transfers less stress to the surrounding surface, enabling compaction in more delicate application areas, such as bridges, over pipes and close to residential areas.

The DD120C and DD140C were also centre stage as the largest additions to the Volvo line-up of asphalt compactors, offering 20% improved fuel efficiency, new intelligent features and high centrifugal force.

Visitors were also able to interact with Volvo’s new intelligent operator systems and machine monitoring technologies, such as ActiveCare Direct and Dig Assist.

Other highlights on the Volvo stand included the A60H, the world’s largest articulated hauler with six-wheel drive; the EC750E, the latest and largest excavator available from Volvo in North America; and the HX02 battery-electric, fully autonomous load carrier concept.

Caterpillar: New Cats out of the bag

Caterpillar presented an extensive line-up of its machines and technologies at Conexpo 2017, putting up 40 machines on display in two different exhibit areas totalling 60,000 square feet, and introducing eight new machines.

New machines included the M317F wheeled excavator, a compact radius design that enhances productivity in tight work areas. The 390F and 336F XE crawler excavators have been updated to deliver improved productivity and lower costs. Both offer high fuel efficiency, and the 390F can be equipped with the industry’s only integrated payload system for accurate truck loading. The 336F XE has the payload system as standard equipment, as is 2D GRADE, with the option of a number of integrated Cat Connect grade control systems.

New Cat wheel loaders were also in the Conexpo spotlight. The new 986K on display replaces the H-Series model and delivers lower cost per ton in earthmoving and aggregates operations. The 950 GC made its North American debut at the show and was displayed alongside the full-featured 950M. The 950 GC gives wheel loader owners a choice when determining the best machine for their business.

The new 745 articulated truck features an all-new, class-leading cab with enhanced visibility. Innovative machine control features further improve operator efficiency and safety. The new stability assist system reduces the risk of rollovers, and the new Economy Mode reduces fuel consumption.

A live demonstration featured a D8T dozer in Peoria, Illinois, controlled remotely from the operator station at the stand, using the new Cat Command remote control system. It offers a choice of two operator interfaces – a portable Operator Console for line-of-sight use and an Operator Station that can be located remotely when the dozer is equipped with the Command Vision System. Wireless connectivity enables the operator to work from a safe location, nearby or far away.

MB Crusher: A one-machine crushing squad

Italian mobile crusher maker MB Crusher, together with its branch office MB America, has been big this year at Conexpo, crushing and screening with an excavator and skid loader, turning each equipment into its own one-machine mobile plant.

At this year’s event in Las Vegas, the company’s 4,000sqft demo area was one of the places that pulled in the crowds with its displays and demonstrations. MB demonstrated to attendees how quickly they can have a mobile plant at their work-site by switching between crushing and screening attachments.

Since the last Conexpo in 2014, MB Crusher has expanded its product line to include a new line of screening attachments designed for skid loaders, loaders and backhoes, 360-degree rotation grapples and dual head rotary drum cutters.

At its demo area in the Silver Lot, MB Crusher featured four machines crushing and screening concrete debris and granite rocks: the BF120.4 crusher attachment and the MB-S18 screening attachment on an excavator, and the MB-L140 crusher attachment and MB-LS140 screening attachment on a skid loader.

In addition to the live demonstrations, MB Crusher had its drum cutter and grapple models on static display. The product lines were introduced in late 2015 and early 2016.

MB’s attachments use the hydraulic system on excavators, skid loaders and backhoes, and allow contractors the flexibility to work in tight areas, difficult access locations, steep slopes and urban areas.

The company says contractors will be able to reuse materials immediately at the job-site and provide a greener option in recycling waste materials.

By reusing materials, contractors and businesses can save time and money by reducing waste and trucking costs.

Construction Climate Challenge: A transformational Green leap

The global construction sector is capable of making a “transformational leap” in sustainability and higher green standards, said top construction and environmental experts at the Construction Climate Challenge at Conexpo.

The latest gathering of the Construction Climate Challenge tackled issues such as calculating the whole-life impact of building materials, the potential for cutting emissions in construction equipment and the environmental opportunities of delivering greener transport and mobility options, such as California’s high-speed rail system. Leading speakers also discussed the challenges of reducing carbon in construction.

The Construction Climate Challenge is an initiative hosted by Volvo CE to promote environmental awareness, enhance collaboration and share best practices throughout the construction industry. The seminar was moderated by Dr Bryan Staley, president and CEO of the Environmental Research and Education Foundation, who discussed the consequences and complexities of calculating the lifetime environmental impact of building material choices.

He said manufacturing processes, construction quality, transportation and material longevity all affect the whole-life environmental impact calculation, adding to the difficulty of accurately determining optimal building material choices.

Margaret Cederoth, sustainability manager at the California High-Speed Rail Authority, said the railway project in the state was “setting a new green standard for infrastructure development”. The high-speed rail system will connect San Francisco to the Los Angeles basin in under three hours by 2029, at speeds of over 300kph.

Describing how the adoption of new technology is leading to a new breed of intelligent, electric and connected machines, Dave Ross, VP, advanced engineering at Volvo CE, said: “Volvo CE’s HX2 prototype autonomous battery-electric load carrier is one element of an electric site research project that we predict will deliver up to a 95% reduction in carbon emissions.”

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