These “S” words were used over and over again at this year’s ConExpo/ConAgg trade show in Las Vegas. Heavy equipment suppliers proved their machines are engineered to meet the task of rebuilding America’s infrastructure, wooing contractors and enticing private enterprise. Many of the machines included smart technology making them more efficient, safer and simpler to operate.
The bigger than life perspective to the show began at the entrance of the Las Vegas Convention Center with huge statues of construction workers standing guard and nearby cranes rising in salute to welcome visitors.
While walking the floor, I focused on the trade show content presented and exhibitors who offered their visitors some kind of hands-on experience. I appreciated the guide posts used by Caterpillar to identify rental and new machines.
As well as the function segmentation used at some exhibitor booths.
Case Construction presented a panel discussion including author and infrastructure expert Dan McNichol. He was the first to speak and began with a story, documented in his book Dire States. “I traveled 11,000 miles across America in a 1949 Hudson to bring awareness for our ailing infrastructure… During my travel I didn’t meet a single person who disputed that our infrastructure is falling apart.” His message, along with those from former U.S. Congressman Jim Oberstar, Janet Kavinoky, executive director at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and Jim Hasler, vice president of CASE Construction Equipment, have been heard before.
Surrounded by some of the most innovative, technologically advanced machinery in the world, the four speakers advocated for a long-term federal plan and state initiatives that would get these gleaming machines off the trade show floor and into the business of repairing dilapidated roadways, bridges, waterways, buildings, parks and schools.
However, the panel was preaching to the choir. With an estimated cost of $172 billion over the next nine years to improve the U.S. transportation infrastructure, the hurdles are high. They asked the choir to sing louder and get people outside the industry to sing along. Maybe, just maybe, priorities will change.
At a joint news conference The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and the Association of Equipment Management Professionals (AEMP) announced they are moving forward with developing a broader telematics data sharing standard that will better serve customers and protect the industry. Such a standard will improve data flexibility, governance, and processes. They are not waiting for academia or government but are relying on industry leaders such as Komatsu, Volvo and Caterpillar to assist with creating the standards and proposed certification process for OEM, end users and system management firms. It is believed that the right data feed can provide companies with the ROI needed to make investment decisions, manage fleets more efficiently and identify the importance of each machine.
While there was no red carpet for many of the contractors attending the show, some of them did get recognized for the work they do and the way they do it. They received awards for improving the quality of life in their communities during a breakfast hosted by AEM. To read stories about their projects click on the Quality of Life link on the ConExpoConAgg.com website.
Some exhibitors, including Leica, gave the reins to visitors and allowed them to get a feel for what’s new and available.
Others showed their strength in the grinding challenge.
In many ways that’s what the show was all about – what can be done as an industry to show our strength and willingness to make America better.