WINDS OF WOW!
It was a breezy week in Vegas, as World of Concrete warms up contractors for a busy 2020 construction year.
The 2020 edition of World of Concrete more than held its own in its triennial role as an industry “warm-up” act for Conexpo-Con/Agg. Indeed, were it not for the calendar, one might imagine that it was largely business as usual at the Las Vegas Convention Center’s mid-winter assemblage of all things concrete and masonry.
According to World of Concrete’s organizers, this year’s show attracted approximately 54,000 registered professionals—up 4,000 from the last Conexpo year in 2017—and more than 1,300 exhibitors, 19% of which were first-timers.
Sure, that might have made for a little more elbow room than usual as one navigated the exhibit halls and the blustery, yet always buzzing outdoor demonstration area. But World of Concrete 2020 was anything but “scaled down,” boasting numerous product debuts from manufacturers eager to present their latest innovations to an audience that was as hard-core concrete-focused as they come.
Some of the first announcements came from Husqvarna, which got started on its vow to introduce 35 new products by June with a new eight-size line of electric- and propane-powered planetary grinders. They range from the 3-hp (2.2kW) PG 540 to the top-of-the line 20-hp (15kW) PG 830, which is also available in remote-control and single-drive versions. Husqvarna’s stand also featured the PG 400 gas-powered 16-in (400mm) single-disc floor grinder, designed to be matched with the equally new T 4000 gas-powered dust extractor. For drillers, there were the DM 400 and DM 430 single-phase 3 hp (2.3 kW) electric drive motors, designed for core bit diameters of 2 to 14 in (55 to 30 mm) and 4 to 18 in (100 to 450 mm), respectively.
The trend toward bigger floor polishing systems was evidenced by Husqvarna’s Hipertrowel, a ride-on machine designed for new and existing floors larger 5,000 ft2 (464m2).
Nearby, Superabrasive had added a similar trowel-to-grinder/polisher to its Lavina product line, with the propane-powered 1,389-lb (630 kg) LP36, with four-blade 185 rpm rotors. At the other end of the Lavina grinding spectrum was the new 14-in (356mm) electric L14E grinder, with speed settings of 400 to 1,000 rpm.
Power and productivity on the move
While the surface preparation market appears to be gravitating toward size extremes, “cordless” seems to underscore most new offerings from tool manufacturers. DeWalt debuted its DCH614 60V MAX -3/4 in (44.4mm) SDS rotary hammer, which the company says provides 7.7 lbf (10.5 J) and 380 rpm for all types of concrete. The DCH614 also boasts a Constant Speed Control feature that maintains rpm speed regardless of bit size or depth, and wireless communication with specially equipped DeWalt dust extractors such as DCV 60V.
Hilti likewise expanded its cordless lineup with the TE500 A36, a 12.3-lb (5.6kg), 36-volt version of its corded counterpart that the company says delivers 5.58 lbf (24.8 N) and 3,300 impacts per minute. The tool is also ideal for chiseling applications, covering 61 in3 (1,000cm3) per minute, and can be used with the BC 75 cordless vacuum, which is light enough to be worn backpack-style for greater mobility.
Many other cordless tools were on display, including Bosch’s 18V CBH 36 C and 45 C, both of which are powered by the company’s new 8 amp-hour battery with a 45-minute recharge time. Makita is adding to its already expansive product inventory with the 18V X2 brushless 9-in (228.6mm) power cutter, and 18V LXT brushless power scraper, both of which will be available this spring.
Of course, all that drilling will require some tough bits, which is why Diablo brought its new Demon SDS-Plus and SDS-Max 4-cutter full carbide head hammer bits for concrete with rebar applications. Nearly 80 different bits make up the Demon line; sizes for SDS-Plus bits range from 5/32 to 1-1/8 in (.787 to 28.575 mm), while the SDS-Max ranges from 3/8 to 2 in (9.5 to 50.8 mm).
Battery innovations weren’t limited to tools. Vacuworx demonstrated its new battery-powered PHD portable vacuum lifting system that weighs just 25 lbs (11 kg), yet can lift up to 2,500 lb (1,134 kg). True to its name, the PHD is equipped with smart features like a remote control, 12V 30 amp-hour lithium battery, and dual-pump design to build vacuum power faster.
World of Concrete visitors also got to see some more literal new product roll-outs. Bobcat released its R2 series E42 and E50 compact excavators with features such as an integrated lift eye to handling objects, more accessible auxiliary hydraulics connections, and an optional clamp diverter valve for enhanced hydraulic clamp functionality and attachment operation. Bobcat’s R series also includes the T76 compact track loader and the S76 skid-steer loader. Both models feature longer and stronger lifting arms for greater capacity, plus a one-piece cab for better noise suppression.
Across the aisle, Doosan displayed its DX62R 6t reduced tail swing mini-excavator that the company says fills a niche in its RTS offerings. The DX62R also provides 4 in (101mm) of additional digging depth, and factory-installed quick-coupler lines.
The biggest big equipment debut may well have come from Case, which announced a complete relaunch of 13 compact track loaders and skid steers as the B Series. All feature updated electrical and hydraulic systems, new operation and environmental controls, and updated Tier 4 technologies to eliminate the need for diesel particulate filters Case’s five compact track loaders range in size from 2,700 to 4,500 lbs (1,225 to 2,041 kg), and 74 to 90 hp (55 to 67 kW); the eight skid steer models range from 1,600 to 3,400 lbs (725.7 to 1,542 kg) and 60 to 90 hp (45 to 67 kw).
Meets and greets
Some of World of Concrete’s newest faces were on hand to introduce themselves, even if their products are well-established. At the booth of hydrodemolition manufacturer Conjet, representatives of the firm’s new leadership team welcomed both customers and the curious.
“Hydrodemolition “is a superior way to deal with concrete removal,” asserted Peter Ankerst, a member of ownership group. He added that the company plans to, “put energy into developing a new generation of machines.”
Conjet’s new CEO Robert Kreichberg, a former HTC executive, recognizes that building awareness is the new leadership team’s top challenge. “We know we have some work to do,” he said, “but we feel this is a good market for us.”
That will also mean competing with its niche-mate, Brokk-owned Aquajet, which is working on allaying concerns about hydrodemolition’s water resource issues with its EcoClear® filtration system designed to treat wastewater generated by its high-pressure robotic machines for reuse, storage or release back into the environment.
Speaking of Brokk, it’s a rare U.S. trade show when the remote control demolition machine maker doesn’t have a product to spotlight. This year it was an attachment—the BCP planer for removing material from walls, floors, and ceilings for cleaning, renovation and restoration applications. The three models in the BCP series are specially designed to work with Brokk remote-control demolition machines and offer up to seven times the speed of handheld options while providing greater precision and safety for operators.
Elsewhere on the show floor, Australian-owned Makinex continued its rollout of mobile generators with a new 23kW 480V unit that provides concurrent e-phase and single-phase operation. Weighing 420 lb (190.5 kg), the constant-duty generator can operate for approximately 10 hours on 12 gallons (45.4 liters) of gas. Makinex’s line of portable battery-powered generators, introduced at last year’s World of Concrete, is currenting undergoing redesign, according to a company spokesman.
Diamond Vantage displayed its new TS400 tile saw, with a 2-hp (1.5kW) motor for cutting through larger materials up to 2.25 in (57mm) thick. At 65 lb (29.5 kg), the saw is highly mobile, and includes features to help reduce vibrations.
World of Concrete 2020 continued its longstanding tradition of providing products that, for lack a better term, are just plain neat.
At Metabo, there was the VB16Y battery-powered rebar bender/cutter, which can cut or bend #3, #4, and #5 to pre-set or adjustable angles. Depending on rebar thickness, the company says the 39.7-lb (18kg) machine’s blades can make up to 5,000 cuts. Metabo has also adapted its MFE 40 wall chaser tool from Europe for US applications, such as installing security systems in stores or cutting channels for slip-resistant edges on stairs.
Stihl’s battery-powered GTA 26 garden pruner may not be suitable for rebar, but the 3.1-lb (1.4kg) mini-chain saw with its 4-in (101mm) guide bar is ideal for trimming brush away from a job site. Stihl is also the latest equipment manufacturer to introduce an asset management system. Designed to function with any tool that generates magnetic flux, regardless of manufacturer, the Bluetooth-enabled system currently provides operational data to plan maintenance schedule and make more efficient use of tools in the fleet. Will be expanded to include anti-theft and other capabilities, according to a company spokesperson.
And because everyone needs a good knife, OLFA presented its new MXP-L and MXP-AL die-cast aluminum utility knives. The MXP-L features OLFA’s classic ratchet locking mechanism, with an oversized design for greater control, while the MXP-AL’s oversized auto-locking mechanism slides to the selected length and stays put. Both knives are fitted with an anti-slip grip that wraps around the back of the tool, and tethering hole at the tool end for easy securing.
Though many may consider Conexpo the true bellwether of the U.S. construction industry’s overall health, World of Concrete nevertheless offered many clues about what contractors can expect in the coming months. Most observers are looking for a good first half, with subsequent months hazy given uncertainties such as the U.S. elections, trade disputes, and lingering effects of the coronavirus outbreak.
There’s no shortage of optimism with World of Concrete’s organizers. Nearly 500 companies have already booked space for the 2021 edition, reserving a total of 530,000 net ft2 (49,238 m3), nearly 77% of the WOC 2020 show floor. Conexpo 2020 may well have a tough act to follow…and precede.