New Middle East vehicles launched at ConExpo

The tri-annual show was back in March - and according to the organisers, visitor numbers hit a new record.

The tri-annual show was back in March - and according to the organisers, visitor numbers hit a new record.

Fuel efficiency was the watchword of the show, as stringent emission standards and the soaring cost of derv begin to bite. Paradoxically, the largest classes of machinery were bigger than ever before, showing that in many cases size can equal very high efficiency.

Taking as much space as the organisers would allow, Caterpillar displayed no less than fifty machines, with a great deal of new stock in the mix. New earthmoving machines included a the big 992K wheeled loader. Designed for quarrying, it can load a Cat 778 dumper in just five passes. Powered by an engine producing 597kw, the big loader has a rated payload of 18 tonnes, a dump height of 4.6 metres, a reach of 2.3 meters and a breakout force of 580kn.

Also on display was D5K representing the new K-series bulldozers, launched in the Middle East just prior to the show. These machines replace the G-series range, as seen on just about every construction site throughout the UAE. However, the newcomers are substantially different with all new undercarriages and a wiring loom compatible with the firm's AccuGrade machine control system.

Showing that they are a major player in the North American market, Doosan used the show to unveil both its DX series excavators and DL series wheeled loaders. In total 25 new orange machines were launched, but our interest was piqued by the new Bobcat (also now part of Doosan Infracore) V417 telehandler. This versatile machine could be put to work doing just about anything from grading and filling, to stacking a barn, which is what the range was originally designed for of course.

Yet more launches came from Hitachi. Several revised 'Zaxis' machines now boasting reduced tail swing and tier 3 compliance were launched, but most interesting was the company's new ZX telematics machine monitoring electronic system.

This system provides all manner of data about the machines use to help the manager and operator improve efficiency.

Elsewhere, JCB were showing off a load of new machines - 21 by our count - including a revised, cleaner running 'Robot' skid-steer loader. The firm were also displaying the new JS520 tracked excavator, which, at 52-tonnes, is set to be the flagship of the company's range, and the heaviest excavator the company has ever produced.

However, we noticed an odd-looking creation called the 'Groundhog'. Described as a 4x4 site vehicle (although we counted six wheels) it has been designed as a go-anywhere alternative to pick-up trucks. We think the low ground clearance might cause a problem on some sites though.

Finally, Volvo displayed a complete road building range, thanks in part to the rebranded Ingersoll Rand line of pavers, milling machines and pumps, that the company obtained the rights to last year. Also of interest was an L-series loader converted to diesel-electric hybrid drive. On this vehicle, the electric motors are designed to help the machine at peak load, meaning the diesel has to rev less, and therefore will be less likely to throw out clouds of soot.

On the stand, the Swedish company also displayed an improved air suspension system for its next-generation ADT dump trucks. This should allow the operator to move at reasonable speed without shattering his spine or shedding the load.

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