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Top 10 highlights from CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2014

We bring you our 10 favourite stories from the Las Vegas trade show

Almost 130,000 people attended the Las Vegas construction event.
Almost 130,000 people attended the Las Vegas construction event.
Six JCB machines joined forces with a string quartet to dance daily in front of the Las Vegas crowd.
Six JCB machines joined forces with a string quartet to dance daily in front of the Las Vegas crowd.
The Volvo GaiaX is a concept excavator that has been designed for the year 2030.
The Volvo GaiaX is a concept excavator that has been designed for the year 2030.
Senior figures from Caterpillar, JCB, and Case say that Tier 4 technology would benefit the Middle East.
Senior figures from Caterpillar, JCB, and Case say that Tier 4 technology would benefit the Middle East.
IronPlanet CEO and chairman Greg Owens says that strategic alliances will help the firm to expand its sourcing operations.
IronPlanet CEO and chairman Greg Owens says that strategic alliances will help the firm to expand its sourcing operations.
Manitowoc's VPC system has been designed to reduce costs for crawler crane operators.
Manitowoc's VPC system has been designed to reduce costs for crawler crane operators.
Hidromek's prime position and handpicked line-up turned heads in Las Vegas.
Hidromek's prime position and handpicked line-up turned heads in Las Vegas.
The millionth Bobcat loader will roll off the production line in 2014.
The millionth Bobcat loader will roll off the production line in 2014.
Link-Belt received a number of crane orders during the five-day event.
Link-Belt received a number of crane orders during the five-day event.
Case chose a traditional log cabin aesthetic to combat the hustle and bustle of the Las Vegas show.
Case chose a traditional log cabin aesthetic to combat the hustle and bustle of the Las Vegas show.
Zoomlion says that its ZCC1100 will achieve applications in the Middle East as well as in the US.
Zoomlion says that its ZCC1100 will achieve applications in the Middle East as well as in the US.

Attracting almost 130,000 visitors, CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2014 surpassed its previous edition with the second-highest attendance in the show’s history.

Records were also set for the number of firms exhibiting – approximately 2,400 – and the expanse of exhibition space.

Not only did the Las Vegas show offer a platform for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to showcase their latest models, but it also provided an opportunity for networking on a global scale. International registrants accounted for almost a quarter of those in attendance; 31,000 visitors came from overseas.

In the following show round-up, we count down through our top 10 highlights from the Las Vegas event. 

JCB unleashes troupe of dancing diggers

Plenty of people got into the Las Vegas spirit at CONEXPO, but UK manufacturer JCB took things to a whole new level by unveiling a troupe of dancing diggers.

Six of the firm’s iconic yellow machines took to the dance floor to show off some of their fancy wheel-work in front of the Las Vegas crowd.

A string quartet accompanied the dancing diggers, providing a medley of rock classics to allow them to strut their stuff.

The JCB troupe performed the expertly choreographed routines several times per day throughout the course of the trade show.

Volvo CE unveils GaiaX concept excavator

Volvo Construction Equipment used CONEXPO 2014 to unveil GaiaX: an electric compact excavator envisioned for the year 2030.

The machine sports a back-to-basics, lightweight design, and will offer both in-cab and remote operation through an augmented reality, wireless key controller.

The fully electric concept unit also sports a battery that doubles as a counterweight, and software that would use a map of a city’s utilities infrastructure to help operators avoid any hidden hazards.

“The idea is to simplify the excavator down to its core components,” said Marcus Ulmefors, tech lead at Volvo CE.

Industry experts call for regulatory change in Middle East

Speaking to CW at the Las Vegas trade show, a host of industry experts called for fresh PMV regulations in the Middle East.

High-ranking figures from JCB, Caterpillar and CNH outlined the ways in which the region’s construction sector would benefit from a move towards ultra-low-sulphur diesel (ULSD) and Tier 4 engine technology.

Interviewees told CW that the latest technology would not only result in environmental and public health improvements, but would also benefit the Middle East’s construction community in the longer term.

“What we’ve been trying to do for some time is to look towards those areas that are not headed for Tier 4 in the future, and not talking about Tier 4, and to get them to use low-sulphur diesel fuel,” said Caterpillar chairman and CEO, Doug Oberhelman.

IronPlanet to expand equipment sourcing operations

IronPlanet has announced that it is to expand its equipment sourcing operations with the help of recently signed strategic alliances.

Currently, the online construction equipment marketplace sources its offerings primarily from the North American and European markets.

However, IronPlanet chairman and CEO Greg Owens told CW that he and his colleagues would use partnerships with Mascus, GraysOnline, and ClearAsset to broaden the scope of such activities.

“From a sourcing standpoint, I hope that this gets us into some markets that we’re not in right now, such as the Middle East, South Africa, and others,” he explained.

Manitowoc showcases VPC crawler crane technology

Manitowoc used CONEXPO as a stage to launch its MLC300 and MLC650 crawler cranes to the market.

Whilst both models sport a range of upgraded features, the most notable addition is without doubt Manitowoc’s proprietary Variable Position Counterweight (VPC) system.

VPC automatically positions the crawler’s counterweight to fit the required lift. The counterweight moves along a rotating bed, and alters its configuration based on changes in the boom angle.

This dynamic arrangement allows for reduced ground preparation and lower ground-bearing pressure. Essentially, users can carry less counterweight without sacrificing lifting capacity.

“We first introduced VPC technology on the 31000 crane, which is a 2,300-tonne crawler,” Larry Weyers, executive vice president at Manitowoc, told CW.

“We then took that patented technology and incorporated it into these two models simultaneously. This was a challenge for us as a manufacturer: to bring two cranes to the market at the same time,” he added.

The VPC system has been designed to allow crawler crane operators to increase onsite efficiency, and also enables them to cater to a greater number of applications using fewer units, according to Weyers.

“Large contractors and rental companies are looking to buy fewer cranes that can cover more work. For instance, they might choose to purchase an MLC300 as their standard crane, and then an MLC650. If they purchase both with the VPC-MAX attachment, the amount of work that they’re covering with just two cranes is enormous,” he explained.

Hidromek uses prime spot to turn heads of Las Vegas crowd

Turkish OEM Hidromek targeted the US market with a hand-picked line-up of machinery.

The firm exhibited four models at the show: the HMK 66SS mini backhoe loader, the Maestro Series HMK 102 B backhoe loader, the Gen Series HMK 200 W wheeled excavator, and the Gen Series HMK 300 LC crawler excavator.

Situated next to the event’s main entrance, Hidromek’s booth attracted swathes of visitors during the course of the five-day event. In addition to existing customers and partners, many of those who wandered over to speak with the Hidromek team did so through curiosity.

Indeed, the majority of visitors wanted to become better acquainted with the manufacturer and its products, according to Hakan Ilhan, marketing and sales development manager at Hidromek.

“This is Hidromek’s fourth CONEXPO appearance. This time, we are here with just four machines, but we have secured an excellent spot. In previous years, we became a little lost amongst bigger booths, but this time, I think that everybody has seen our stand and our products. We’ve had plenty of visitors, and of course, people can see the quality of manufacturing on display," he told CW.

Bobcat celebrates millionth-loader milestone

Compact equipment manufacturer Bobcat was celebrating a rather special achievement at CONEXPO. 2014 marks the year in which the firm’s one-millionth loader will roll off the production line.

Bobcat chose to honour this milestone by showcasing some of its ‘one-millionth’ edition loaders at CONEXPO, with special paintjobs, decals, and interiors. As loader product specialist Mike Fitzgerald told CW, the latest iterations are barely recognisable compared to Bobcat’s earliest models.

“The first loader was built in 1958, although the firm was not known as Bobcat at that point in time. It was a three-wheeled loader used for cleaning barns,” he explained.

“In the early 1960s, the company took on the Bobcat nomenclature, and began producing four-wheeled versions, which became skid-steer loaders. The early machines were clutch driven, and didn’t even feature a canopy. We now use hydrostatic drive systems and ROPS canopies. Technologies have advanced significantly over the years,” Fitzgerald added.

Bobcat has moved from one to one million in the space of just 56 years; an impressive feat by anybody’s standards. However, when asked to predict the date of Bobcat’s second-millionth loader, Fitzgerald refused to be drawn.

“I don’t own a crystal ball so I’m not going to make any predictions. That’s not my world. I hope that it’s soon, but I probably won’t be with the company when it does happen,” he concluded.

Link-Belt celebrates CONEXPO crane orders

Link-Belt is celebrating following a flurry of sales at CONEXPO.

A number of its partnered lifting specialists in the United States placed orders for units from across the manufacturer’s range, including two of its RTC-80150 Series II rough-terrain models.

ENTREC signed for one of Link-Belt’s TCC-500 telescopic crawlers, ALL Erection & Crane Rental Corp purchased an RTC-80150 Series II, and Crane Service Inc bought an ATC-3210 all-terrain crane. However, Oklahoma Territory Construction Equipoment represented the OEM’s biggest customer, ordering five cranes in total.

“This purchase extends a long history of support from Oklahoma Territory Construction,” said Skeeter Collins, North American sales manager at Link-Belt.

“They have been a valued Link-Belt distributor for many years,” he added.

Oklahoma Territory placed orders for an RTC-8080 Series II, an RTC-80150 Series II, an ATC-3275, and two HTC-86100 hydraulic truck cranes.

Link-Belt’s director of product marketing Pat Collins said that the quality of the manufacturer’s product offering was reflected in the amount of repeat business that it enjoys.

“In the short time we’ve been shipping the ATC-3275, 50% of sales have been to repeat buyers,” he explained.

“I’m not talking about multiple buyers who’ve come in and purchased two or three units at a time. These are people who’ve bought one, then a second, then a third, and in some cases, a fourth ATC-3275,” he added.

“Repeat customers are the ultimate endorsement. The ATC-3210 steps into the slot just under the ATC-3275. This 185-tonne all-terrain crane has all the same great features of the ATC-3275, but with a lighter transport footprint for more challenging road and bridge limitations. We wanted to move the unit with all the good stuff,” Collins concluded.

Case CE brings Wisconsin’s North Woods to Las Vegas

Amidst the glitz and glamour of the Las Vegas event, Case Construction equipment decided to take a more laidback approach at CONEXPO 2014.

The manufacturer decided to put together an uncluttered exhibition stand with a back-to-basics design, in order to provide visitors with a haven of relaxation at the centre of the busy trade show.

“What we wanted to do was not to put so many machines on the stand, but to include some space between our machines,” explained Franco Invernizzi, senior director for sales in Africa and the Middle East at Case’s parent company CNH Industrial.

“We wanted to be a little bit different from the other exhibitors. Many of our competitors have arranged their machines very close to one another, with busy displays and sound effects. We wanted to create an area that very much resembled our Tomahawk Customer Center,” he added.

Case’s Tomahawk facility is located in the North Woods of Wisconsin, and lent the manufacturer’s CONEXPO stand its log cabin aesthetic.

“We use this facility to get together with our customers – to enable them to try out our latest machines. It’s also a place for them to relax and have fun; very comfortable and very quiet,” Invernizzi explained.

“The Tomahawk facility allows us to transmit the feeling that we are a sort of family, and we’ve tried to recreate that atmosphere here. As such, we decided not to include any fences on our booth, there is plenty of seating, and there is free coffee so that people can stop by and have a chat,” he told CW.

Zoomlion brings first ZCC1100 to United States

Zoomlion’s latest crawler crane has been designed with the US market in mind, but could also achieve applications in the Middle East.

Zoomlion used CONEXPO as a platform to introduce its ZCC1100 crawler crane to the United States Market. The model conforms to stringent US road regulations, and has been designed to minimise the cost involved in transporting the crane from one job site to another.

“This crane meets all US transportation requirements,” explained Kobe Liu, deputy general manager for overseas sales at Zoomlion.

“Moreover, the counterweight is removable, and we’ve made the assembly of the machine much easier for users. These are the ZCC1100’s main advantages,” he added.

Although the first ZCC1100 only arrived in the US recently, the model has already been test driven by local end users.

“The model on display arrived in the US one month ago, so for the first two weeks, we invited customers to test the machine at the site of our local dealer. The feedback we received was very good indeed, so we are expecting more orders. This particular unit, for instance, has already been sold. It will head to Alaska once the show is over,” said Liu.

The ZC1100 has been designed with the US market in mind, but Liu and his colleagues are confident that the crawler will also achieve applications within regions such as the Middle East.

“This crane is going to be available outside the US as well,” he told CW.

“We’ll be promoting the machine in lots of regions, including the Middle East, India, and Russia. The first 10 ZCC1100s are to be shipped to the US, but we will then market the crane worldwide. We are already in talks with some customers in Qatar who are looking to purchase units for work in Doha,” added Liu.

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