Plant & Equipment

Viva ConExpo: Substance amongst style!

Mention Las Vegas to anyone the world over and that person will make an association, no matter how tenuous. Vegas is renowned internationally as the City of Lights (typified by the famous fountain lights of Bellagio and the city’s colourful neon lights), the Entertainment Capital of the World (captured by its imitations of other cultural icons, eg the Eiffel Tower, the Coliseum, New York City, the Venetian Palace) and Sin City for … well, no need to elaborate!
Vegas is also a stark contrast to the economic situation in America. With the US economy in deficit and struggling to recover from the horrors of the Global Financial Crisis, Vegas seems to exist in a bubble of its own. It is thriving in spite of the GFC, judging by the many vacant lots of industrial land around the city and the major new building developments at the planning stage. The city’s growth, and therefore hunger for aggregate, continues unabated.
For a week this year, from 21 to 26 March, Las Vegas hosted ConExpo-ConAgg, the second biggest construction industries trade show in the world (behind Bauma in Europe). For the half a million residents of Las Vegas, it was a huge deal. Aside from the usual slot machines that greet visitors on arrival from a long flight, McCarran International Airport was adorned with banners welcoming them to the trade show. A massive banner from key sponsor and exhibitor Komatsu on the outside wall of a multi-storey car park was unmistakeable as visitors were transferred by light rail across domestic terminals.
It’s not surprising why the city embraces the trade show. This year, ConExpo-ConAgg and various co-located events attracted nearly 120,000 registered attendees. That’s not just 120,000 visitors for a large trade show but an influx of tourists for the Nevada and US national economies in just one week.
Approximately 24 per cent of the attendees were visitors from 150 different countries and both ConExpo-ConAgg 2011 and IFPE 2011 (the International Fluid Power Exposition) hosted 42 official international customer delegations from 37 countries as part of the US Department of Commerce International Buyer Programme. Most of the show’s attendees were key company decision-makers, 44 per cent of whom bore titles like president/owner or general manager/chief financial officer.
Megan Tanel, the vice president of exhibitions and events for the US Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), said the positive numbers and strong industry support of the shows, both from within and outside the US, boded well for the future of the US construction and associated industries.
“The construction industry has been through some very tough times, with record unemployment since the last ConExpo-ConAgg and IFPE in March 2008,” she said. “The increased global participation by attendees and exhibitors underscores the importance of world markets to our industry. The US economy is slowly improving and we have a long way to go, especially in construction, but after 18 to 24 months there is more pent-up demand for equipment to be ready for the upturn.”
ConExpo-ConAgg and IFPE were located over 714,000 net square metres (or 2.34 million net square feet) of exhibit space, spanning both the Las Vegas Hilton Grand Vacations Centre and the Las Vegas Convention Centre. There were 2400 exhibitors on the show floor, offering products and services in attachments, earthmoving, tyres, trucking and hauling, aggregates processing, drilling equipment, safety, engines and components, and fluid and electrical power transmission.
For many exhibitors, ConExpo-ConAgg presented an opportunity for the global launch of new products or services or to reinforce the points of difference and economy that their current product range could offer equipment users, producers, dealers and contractors. In most of the press briefings at the show that were relevant to the quarrying and aggregate sectors, exhibitors offered more of the latter than the former. However, there were some interesting innovations being mooted.
For example, Metso championed the features of the Lokotrack ST3.5 (see page 19). However, the most noteworthy presentation came from Scott Snyder, Metso’s vice president for vibrating product lines, equipment and systems, who discussed the product innovation in Metso’s vibrating equipment. He announced that Metso later this year will launch its newly patented ELLIPTI-FLO screening system (see page 31). He also discussed Metso’s MV exciter line which can simplify and lower spare parts inventories. There are now three MV models that cover Metso’s entire screen and drive system, reducing downtime and increasing uptime. Metso is also releasing the IC8000 continuous monitoring system that will provide an affordable, dependable means to protect equipment and improve availability.
Sandvik launched several new products to the North American market, while promoting its range of fixed and mobile crushers, feeders and screens, drill rigs, rock tools and aftermarket competencies. Amongst some of the new products on show were the DI550 DTH drill rig, the QE440 mobile scalper screen, the QI440 mobile impact crusher, the QI240 mobile impact crusher, the QA331 mobile three-way split screen (see page 36) and the QH440 mobile cone crusher.
The QI440 tracked impact crusher is best suited to the quarrying and extractive industries, as it has been designed to process aggregate and construction materials on-site. While designed primarily for the recycling of construction materials, the QI240 impactor is also suitable for the rock crushing requirements of the smaller quarry. The QH440, with a choice of six different crushing chambers, ranging from fine to extra coarse, is suited to the larger, more demanding quarry.
Sandvik also announced the renewal of its co-operative agreement with explosives supplier Dyno Nobel to provide collaborative, customised solutions for US customers through skills training and knowledge sharing. As part of this initiative, Sandvik and Dyno Nobel have committed to continuing the non-commercial Quarry Academy programme in North America, an annual three-day educational seminar aimed at optimising enterprise management at quarry operations. The programme has been ongoing since 2003 and up to 100 quarry industry professionals are set to attend the next conference in San Antonio, Texas in November 2011.
While Quarry Academies have operated for many years in the US and Europe and another is in development in India, it will still be some time before the concept is introduced to the Australian market. When that happens, it is likely an Academy programme will be expanded to incorporate the broader surface mining sector, due to the “relatively small size” of the Australian quarrying and aggregates market.
Atlas Copco used ConExpo-ConAgg to unveil its new line of Atlas Copco Powercrusher track-mounted mobile crushers and screens. The Powercrusher line up, previously owned and managed by Hartl Powercrusher in Germany, includes 11 different models of rock crushers – comprising jaws, impactors and cones – with a crushing capacity of 242 to 606 tonnes per hour and six screen models with a capacity of 242 to 485 tph.
Atlas Copco’s four jaw crusher models incorporate the Quattro movement, made possible by an up-thrust toggle plate position. This causes a figure eight motion in the moving jaw, which increases the feed capacity and produces a post-crush at the crusher outlet.
The smallest of the mobile jaw crushers is the PC3 and the largest is the PC6, with a larger PC8 in development. The PC3, which crushes primary rock or recycled material, can produce up to 330 tph while the PC6 can produce up to 500 tph. There are six impact crusher models, all of which use optimised geometry in the crusher box with hydraulically adjustable swing beams. The result is a minimal percentage of oversized material, and high reduction ratios and throughputs. The lone mobile cone crusher – the PC1000 – features cones designed for an “all-in” feed. This increases the particle on particle crushing, which in turn increases the quality of the end material shape, decreases wear and eliminates pre-screening.
Eric Amberson, the US product line manager for Powercrusher, said that Atlas Copco’s acquisition of Powercrusher was a “natural progression” because the features of the product fit well with its drill rig business. He said that where most other mobile plant brands offer remote control operation as an option for customers, this will be standard on the Powercrusher line.
“We don’t do options,” Eric declared. “If we are going to supply a product, we want you to have it all. We want it to be the best product that you can buy. So we make all the optional features standard. Even if you use the machine for primary rock and won’t run reinforced steel through it, the machine has a magnet for recycling applications if you change your mind.”
Atlas Copco’s PowerROC T25, T30 and T35M surface crawler drill tophammer rigs also enjoyed their North American launch. Being hydraulic rigs with a straightforward design and less maintenance requirements, the PowerROC rigs utilise the COP logic drilling control system to adjust drilling parameters in real time and help the operator continue drilling straight holes. Continuous feeding by use of cylinder and rope results in the bit maintaining constant contact with the rock and helps to optimise transfer of the impact power. 
Ongoing adjustment of feed and impact pressure reduces excessive energy use and the hydraulic cylinder feed system employs a rigid aluminum feed beam with precise feed force for longer drill steel life. The PowerROC rigs use COP 1240, 1640 or 1840 rock drills to deliver two-inch to 4.5-inch hole diameters at a maximum hole depth of 21m to 25m. The rigs are powered by a Cummins QSB 4.5 or QSB 6.7 engine.
The PowerROC series was one of four new product categories of ROC drill rigs launched at ConExpo-ConAgg. The others were the SmartROC T40, the FlexiROC T20R and the SmartRig ROC F9C. Powered by a Tier 4 engine, the SmartROC offers the operator a versatile, high technology rig with a higher level of sophistication and the potential for the best cost per tonne of material used. The FlexiROC is a rig with a medium sophistication level and the potential for the best cost per drill metre. The ROC F9C is a tophammer rig with the SmartRig suite of features, including ROC Manager for  planning and control, Hole Navigation System, automatic feed alignment, automatic rod adding system and rock drill control system.
Present at the show were suppliers and brands that have been long established in the US, but are either smaller players or up and comers in the Australian aggregate market. These included the likes of Astec Industries, Actronic Technologies, FLSmidth, Wirtgen, Lippmann, Major Wire, McCloskey, Inertia, Superior Industries, Trio, Vermeer, Fisher Industries and Sturtevant. Some of these companies specialise in processing plant and equipment for the aggregates market, including fixed and mobile crushing and screening plant and media, conveyors and stackers and air classifiers and washers.
Astec Industries had a very strong presence at the show, showcasing its range of fixed and mobile crushing and screening plant, including Astec, Johnson Crushers (KPI-JCI), Osborn and Telsmith. 
Among Telsmith’s new crushing offerings was the Tel-Trax model TC52, a high capacity, track-mounted cone crushing plant that is designed to work in conjunction with larger, high production, tracked primary plants to offer more production solutions. Built around the 400 HP, model 52SBS cone crusher, the TC52 plant is built to boost tonnage output in secondary and tertiary applications, while accepting larger feed (up to 304.8mm). 
Telsmith’s newest, largest model in its Hydra-Jaw product line – the H3244 – was also on display. With a 813mm (32”) gape and 1118mm (44”) width, it is designed to accept larger feed and yield higher production than current 762mm by 1067mm (30” x 42”) models. It also incorporates the patented Hydra-Jaw toggle and features hydraulic tramp iron relief, chamber clearing and setting adjustment.
Lippmann Milwaukee showcased its tracked-mounted L3862 mobile jaw plant, weighing 118 tonnes and featuring a 1m by 1.5m (38” x 62”) jaw plant and a 1.5m by 6m (62” x 20’) horizontal vibrating grizzly feeder. The jaw crusher can produce throughput starting at 355 tph (at an 89mm feed) right through to a maximum 1488 tph (at a 356mm feed setting). A selling point of the machine is its triple match drive system which promises power efficiency and reduced fuel consumption, compared to other hydraulically driven crawler plants.
Another player with a presence in Australia which is one of the largest in the US is FLSmidth, which showcased its Raptor range of cone crushers, exemplified by the XL500. This 373kW (500 hp) machine is billed as providing excellent secondary crushing capabilities due to a large feed opening, high pivot-point crushing action and wide crushing stroke. Due to its 1.5m head diameter and eccentric motion, it can accept feed up to 25 per cent larger than could be accepted by an equivalent with less throw, or a similar head diameter, while also producing more material of desired cubicity. The crusher employs “fail safe” hydraulics through an internal relief valve with a patent-pending double-acting tramp release and clearing cylinders. This feature combines two cylinders into one, and the hanging design reduces stress in the main frame’s lower flange. The Raptor XL500 cone is built with a rigid three-arm frame and integral countershaft mounted inside one of the three arms. An eccentric surface finish is critical to bearing longevity under high performance crushing conditions, and the XL500 cone’s advanced eccentric is a high strength, ductile iron casting. Spiral-bevel gearing helps to transmit loads without shock or sudden impact on the teeth, decreasing noise and vibration while increasing gear and bearing life. Advanced sensing technology detects crushing force overload and can be used to optimise crusher performance, with feed control, setting adjustment and monitoring of all critical lubrication and hydraulic parameters.
Inevitably, being the nomadic people that Australians are, ConExpo-ConAgg’s visitors included a contingent of Australian industry professionals from across the aggregate industry. Several Australian supplier companies were represented in various capacities, including local companies Global Crushing & Spares (GCS), Mobile Screening & Crushing Group (MSC) and Precisionscreen and Australian representatives from Astec Industries.
GCS is a distributor for Lippmann in Australia. David Bannister, the national sales director for GCS, attended the Lippmann stand over the six days and stated that there was interest in the product from other visiting Australians. “All the Aussies looked over the tracked jaw and were very impressed with the design concept and the workmanship,” David said. “We have also had some interest from local companies, particularly in regard to the mobile plant.”
Aidan McGarrity, the south east Queensland sales manager for Precisionscreen, explained that his company exhibited at ConExpo to increase the sales of its equipment worldwide and to look for potential US dealers. “We were pleasantly surprised by the volume of positive feedback from customers,” he reflected, “particularly from end users and potential dealers”.
Precisionscreen has since appointed “a number of new US dealers for Precisionscreen equipment,” Aidan added, “but we did have some approaches from a couple of dealers from Europe, South America, Canada and Asia. I am confident that the show has opened up some export opportunities for Precisionscreen.”
Aidan said that what most impressed him was “the volume of people that were interested in the equipment, as opposed to observers. It’s people who are in the business and are looking into the business, the decision makers and the buyers. And it was evident from the people asking the right questions at our stand”.
Tony Barton, the technical and business development specialist for Astec Australia, and Matthew Foster, the WA account manager for mining and aggregate for Astec Australia, were the Aussie contingent on the Astec Industries stand at ConExpo-ConAgg. Tony estimated that 150 representatives from 100 Australian companies visited the stand over the five days. Some of these were important buyers that Tony expected would (and did) attend the trade show, but nevertheless the visits generated new leads for Astec Australia and Tony anticipates that these will lead to new sales and customer relationships within Australia.
“I think going over to Las Vegas was well worth it,” Tony reflected. “I thought ConExpo was a magnificent event. As well as opening up new leads, the event gives us a look at our competition too, so that’s probably another good reason to attend. It gives us a feel for what’s about, who’s out there, what they’re marketing, and how we should potentially pitch our marketing in Australia.”
Judging by these comments, there was something for everyone at ConExpo-ConAgg. It appears to have generated many leads for the Australian aggregate industry and also presented US manufacturers with the opportunity to also embrace the Australian market. This suggests that despite Las Vegas’ reputation for style over substance, there were some meaningful exchanges over the six days at the Las Vegas Convention Centre – and new commercial partnerships and prospects may follow in the long term.
ConExpo-ConAgg will return to Las Vegas in three years – from 18 to 22 March, 2014.
Damian Christie attended ConExpo-ConAgg from 21 to 26 March, 2011, courtesy of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (US).

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