IT’S ALL GOOD!
World of Concrete 2023 offers a welcome dose of normal times.
The 2023 edition of World of Concrete might well have rank among the most
anticipated events in show’s 49-year history. On top of the usual curiosity about what new product offerings
equipment manufacturers would debut for the new year, WoC’s longstanding status as an early-calendar industry barometer for the U.S. construction market presented no shortage of questions.
Would, for example, the show sustain its post-pandemic rebound, especially in a Conexpo year? Would inflation concerns temper attendees’ interest in adding to their equipment inventories? And would WoC’s somewhat slimmer three-day exhibition schedule set an example other trade shows might follow in these digitally driven times? Numbers provided some largely positive answers to WoC’s organizers, as the 2023 edition topped 48,000 registered attendees, up nearly 30% from last year’s Omicron-shrouded event. That’s also just 6,000 below the figure recorded in 2020 when Conexpo—and a few other things—loomed just a couple of months away. Generally crowded aisles and outdoor exhibits also seemed to suggest that for a few days at least, any economic worries were remained beyond the limits of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
“We’ve been surprisingly busy, something we weren’t expecting in a Conexpo year,” observed Vinny Vilela, managing director and chief technology officer for wastewater purification and filtration systems maker Matec America. “And we got some good, quality leads.”
The atmosphere at WoC 2023 was electric in other ways as well, with several manufacturers spotlighting their new or expanded lines of battery-powered tools.
For example, Husqvarna’s expansive outdoor booth showcased additions to its PACE 94V equipment, including a preview of its DE 120 vacuum, scheduled for release later this year. Best powered by the B750X battery, the vacuum is designed for a wide variety of heavy-duty applications. Also on display were i-SERIES 36V products, including the DM 540i battery-powered drill and DE 110i battery powered dust extractor, both of which are designed for tasks with limited elbow room. Husqavarna also announced an update to its Vari-Cut blade range, designed to provide higher cutting speeds and longer blade life.
Hilti likewise continued the rollout of its 22V Nuron platform, announcing that 30 additional products will join the product line this year. Heading the list is the 38.4-lb (17.4kg) TE 2000-22 jackhammer, which the company says provides 28.2 lbf (38.2 Nm) of impact energy and up to 1,800 blows per minute. A Bluetooth feature also allows users to activate a companion vacuum remotely.
Bosch also announced plans to more than 30 tools to its CORE 18V platform during 2023, with more than half to be rolled out by spring. Booth visitors could get their hands on many of the early arrivals, including the 15.4-lb (7kg) PROFACTOR 1-5/8-in (41.28mm) SDS-max and Bulldog SDS-plus 1-in (25.4mm) rotary hammers, which deliver 6.7 and 1.8 lbf (9 and 2.4 Nm), respectively. Both models also feature kickback control technology, brushless motor efficiency, and can be recharged to 80% in less than a half-hour using the Bosch turbocharger.
Other new 18V additions for concrete and masonry applications from Bosch include to 5-to 6-in (127- to 152.4mm) grinders—the PROFACTOR angle and X-Lock paddle switch, and SDS-max Hammer Dust Collection attachment for R-tec chisels that use an energy-diverting reflection element to increases material removal by 15%.
Steve Shepherd, vice president and general manager for Bosch Power Tools North America said that while the company is happy with its CORE platform, it continues to evaluate other technologies, including those being used by competing manufactures.
“A lot of them are expensive,” he said, “and we have to consider the needs of workers and power requirements, as well as the price point.”
STIHL’s latest entry in the battery-powered arena is the new 8.6-lb TSA 230 STIHL Cutquik® cut-off machine, which can be fitted with up to 9-in (228.6mm) blades for a maximum cut depth of 2.75 in (70mm). Run time is approximately 18 minutes per charge using the recently introduced A P500 S laminate cell battery system. More tools will be added to the platform in the coming years, company representatives said.
While many other types of battery-powered equipment to be found, DMI Tools stole the show with its electric mini dump truck. With an 8.34 ft3 (28,317 cm3) payload capacity for transporting loads of 1,100 lb (500kg) across open jobsites and through narrow passages, the whisper-quiet tiny truckster can run for up to eight hours on a single charge and operate at speeds up to 3 mph (5 kph).
To provide power all these electric gadgets on the jobsite, Makinex is looking to extend its presence in the on-site power market. In the next few months, the company says it will launch its 43-hp (32kW) 480v Power Generator. According to Makinex US President Amy Col, the 900-lb (408kg) generator will provide less than 3% harmonic distortion, no transients, or voltage spikes on load rejection, making it particularly attractive to the grinding and polishing segment. In addition to its multi-battery Charge Pod, Makinex is working on refreshing it Portable Power Box that made its US debut at the 2019 WoC.
“We’re only ones with power and portability,” Col said, “and our goal is to make our line even stronger and deeper.”
By the way, if you’re curious about the other end of the electric mobility spectrum, Mack Trucks President Jonathan Randall expects electric vehicles to make up more than a third of his company’s sales by the end of the decade.
“What we sell today, we will have an electric model for it 2030,” he said. He added that interest in electrification is growing among users, particularly those pursing projects with contractual incentives to use renewable power.
Other tasks, other tools
Batteries weren’t the only power source in evidence at WoC 2023. Superabrasive debuted the latest addition to its LAVINA line of grinders with two 30-in (762mm) propane models—the 19-hp (14.2kW) L30GS7 and the 24-hp (17.9kW) L30GKS7. Both offer features such as a new frame design to facilitate better control and easier tool changes, a sealed and dust-proof head, and lighter timing pulleys for better power transformation.
Another interesting entry in the always crowded grinder market was Ingyi’s 32-in (813mm) HTG 820RC, with a control system that includes an autopilot feature. Remote control is also available for Ingyi’s 28-in (711mm) HTG680A, and the Tank-1500 ride-on grinder with a grinding width of 61 in (1,549mm).
Among the wide range of saws seen around the show were US Saws’ MC-800P “Joint Hog” milling machine/saw, developed as part of a new partnership with fellow Florida manufacturer Titan Saws. The MC-800P designed to remove concrete sections up to 4 in (101.6mm) wide and 1-3/4 in (44.5mm) deep to repair spalled joints. It can also be used for grooving, cutting inlays, and to prep for permanent line striping in floors.
Closer to home, figuratively speaking, Southern California’s iQ Power Tools showed its iQ1550 21.5-in (546mm) Dry-Cut masonry saw featuring an integrated dust collection chamber that holds 75 lb (34kg) of dust. Later this year, the company plans to introduce a new rail saw to cut 48-in (1,219mm) lengths of 20mm porcelain tiles. Making its global trade show debut WoC was Lissmac’s UNICUT 610 hydraulic deep cutter, with a towering 86-in (2,184mm) blade. The show also marked the Lissmac’s first major US appearance since the German company forged a new partnership with New York-based diamond cutting manufacturer DDM Concut.
“So far, the partnership is working out well, and there’s a lot to look forward to,” said Lissmac National Sales Director Mitch Scott
Other WoC debuts could be found at DITEQ’s booth, with a new line of diamond saw chains and bars to compete with Oregon, Toolgal, and Maxcut. Engineering Manager Mike Orzechowski says the Diteq Diamond Chain has a unique cage to minimize stretching, while uniquely shaped segments expedite break-in to dress the chain on the initial cut. DITEQ’s standard “S”, chain has great speed and life for everyday cutting, Orzechowski added, while the Life, or “L,” chain segments use the same kind of bond, albeit with a much higher diamond concentration.
“Therefore, it is a very fast-cutting life chain that can be used on heavy reinforced concrete,” Orzechowski explained. “We will be launching more options soon pending successful testing results.”
DITEQ also launched a line of HEAVY DUTY, or “HD,” vacuum-brazed chains to complement its standard vacuum brazed chain product line. Designed for heavy reinforced concrete or ductile iron pipes, the new line has multiple layers of vacuum brazed diamonds on the segments to extend the life. The focus is on heavy reinforce concrete or ductile iron pipes. Orzechowski noted that DITEQ’s new Mascot bars have some unique sizes. Six lengths are available for the ICS 880/890 ranging from 10 to 36 in (254 to 914.4mm). Bars for the Hi-Cycle Prime/Weka/Dr Shultz come in four lengths ranging from 12- to 25-in (305- to 635mm). “We have some additional bars and chains for most of the other saws on the market as well,” he said.
To be sure, a productive trade show in January isn’t necessarily guarantee of a great business year. As recent experiences have taught us, something as small as a microscopic virus can upend the world in the blink of an eye, so it’s easy to imagine what an intensifying conflict in Europe or protracted budget battle on Capitol Hill might do to the economy. Still, there’s little doubt that the mood of most of those leaving Las Vegas was positive, and that there was more to look forward to than fear in the coming months. And if nothing else, WoC 2023 provided exhibitors and attendees alike with a much-welcome positivity about the US construction industry, plus set the stage for the show’s golden anniversary next year.
“It’s been great,” said an enthusiastic Larry D’Angelo, Houston-area sales representative for Syntec Diamond Tools, in summing up the week. “World of Concrete is back!”