A record crowd of more than 620,000 building and construction experts from all over the world gathered recently in Munich, Germany for bauma 2019. This triennial week-long trade fair features the latest and greatest in construction machinery, equipment, vehicles, and mining machines.
Billed as the “Heartbeat of the Industry,” expectations were high. You’d expect there to be some solid insights or trends revealed, and this year did not disappoint. Here are the biggest takeaways from bauma 2019.
Machinery is getting smarter as construction companies are weighing the perks of digitization against the challenges they face. Builders continue experimenting with a variety of solutions that add digital “intelligence” to everyday pieces of equipment.
Smart technology has changed everything, from gathering and utilizing data to the vision of autonomous or semi-autonomous machinery. At bauma 2019, Liebherr-International AG showed off its intelligent assistant systems for large wheel loaders. The systems can independently differentiate between people and objects thanks to a network of onboard sensors.
Intelligent systems geared toward helping workers optimize their own capacity is another trend on the rise. CASE rolled out its new compact wheel-loader packed with 20 sensors and 20 electrohydraulic drives. The machine can alert a human driver if they’ve made an error and even adjust its functions to ensure maximum operational efficiency.
No conversation about the digitization of construction would be complete without mentioning Building Information Modeling (BIM), a technology on which increasingly complex projects are depending.
“This is the only way to execute complex construction projects on time whilst ensuring the required level of quality,” said Marco Xaver Bornschlegl, Head of the IT Services (Infrastructure) department at Strabag Austria.
RIB Software SE has been working on new smartphone and tablet-integrated solutions based on its iTWO 5D technology. Similarly to BIM, it uses digital models and virtual simulations to streamline the planning phase for construction projects and help keep costs in line. Insurance company Munich Re has recently collaborated with RIB to offer iTWO Project Cost insurance, the world’s first IT-based insurance product for construction projects.
Mobile Field Factory
As the global population grows, a major challenge has become producing enough affordable living spaces to accommodate everyone while taking care to preserve our planet’s finite resources. Austrian company Neulandt GmbH debuted the first mobile prefabricated components factory at bauma 2019, designed specifically to create inexpensive housing at scale. On-site production saves on costs associated with transportation and reduces pollution. The factory’s mobility also ensures the use of locally sourced materials and local labor, making it beneficial to the community.
“In one year, each factory can create well in excess of 1,000 houses with a living area of 45 m²,” said Marco Romahn, Managing Director of Neulandt GmbH.
Next Generation Equipment
Whether by government decree or customer demand, construction firms are taking a more serious look at how much they pollute. This approach leads to increased use of electric-powered equipment and alternative energy.
Belgian manufacturer Keestrack introduced its solar-powered tracked stacker at bauma 2019. The 75-foot long conveyor belt is kitted out with photovoltaic solar modules and stores the energy in an on-board battery. The battery then delivers the electricity as needed to power the conveyor belt, caterpillar track, and lifting hydraulics.
Caterpillar unveiled 20 new vehicles at bauma 2019, including the 988K XE, the first diesel-electric drive loader in the company’s fleet. It also introduced its new line of Next Generation excavators, which, the company says, increases fuel efficiency by up to 20 percent over previous models. Meanwhile, CASE also showed off its new methane-powered wheel loader, which reduces emissions by 80 percent and fuel costs by 30 percent, it claims.
In the near term, the trends on display at this year’s bauma are set to continue, largely owing to factors like an exploding global population, increased awareness and demand for green construction, and the skilled labor shortage. The industry faces real challenges, and it appears to be universally warming up to look at technological solutions.