More than 90,000 industry professionals from across the country and around the world traveled to glitzy Las Vegas to attend the 2007 World of Concrete Jan. 23-26. With more than 1,700 exhibitors shoulder to shoulder in 900,000 square feet of show space, attendees were treated to the latest and greatest in everything concrete industry-related at the Las Vegas Convention Center, from exhibits of new heavy equipment, technologies, techniques, and tools to educational seminars, association meetings and various networking opportunities.
For Midwest contractors, there was plenty of familiar equipment on display as two area companies — GOMACO and Cemen Tech — were among the show's 80 sponsoring manufacturers, and numerous other local manufacturers and distributors also maintained booths at the show.
Gomaco's exhibit was the largest of any local manufacturer and featured several machines including the Commander III paver, a Gomaco Smoothness Indicator (GSI), a C-450 cylinder finisher, and GT-3200 and GT-3600 curb and gutter machines. The "star" of their exhibit, however, was Gomaco's new GT-3400, the first curb and gutter machine to be controlled by remote control.
The GT-3400 is a three-track machine that includes the G21 software and control system, All-Track Steering, high-speed track motors, and a patented simultaneous trim/pour feature. It is designed to slipform right-side or left-side curb and gutter, tight radius, safety barrier, bridge parapet, sidewalk, recreational paths, and slabs up to six feet wide.
Contractors can use the GT-3400 with stringline or go stringless with the G21 controller's interface with stringless technology/3D control systems.
The remote control gives the operator total freedom to move about the operation and has all of the necessary functions including vibrator adjustment and an emergency stop. Built-in safety features also stop the machine if the remote loses communication or if the remote control turns on its horizontal axis more than 60 degrees. The wireless remote features "frequency hopping" capabilities to help maintain contact with the GT-3400 and it offers the option of being tethered to the machine for areas that do not allow transmitting, such as projects near airports and blasting operations.
With the front track positioned beside the mold and behind the trimmerhead, the GT-3400 is capable of slipforming right up to an object or to the end of the stringline. The trimmerhead simply has to be sideshifted and lifted up out of the way, allowing the machine to pave up to the end of the pass. This feature allows the machine to handle parking lot designs for curb and gutter that have sharp angles, short runs, or tight radii that do not always take slipforming into consideration.
Other features include: a direct-drive trimmerhead with width adjustable from 30–78 inches; a direct-drive, 14-inch charging auger to deliver concrete to the mold; and the Hook-and-Go mold mount system.
The GT-3400 is powered by a 127 horsepower (94.7 kW) electronic-controlled Caterpillar diesel engine with a remote mounted cooling package. Its two-speed track motors provide tracking speed up to 125 feet per minute.
Cemen Tech's exhibit featured its mobile and stationary volumetric concrete mixers that offer contractors full control of their in-place concrete. The company's display also featured information on their concrete silos, concrete buckets and concrete dump trailers.
In addition to Gomaco and Cemen Tech, more than 50 other area manufacturers or distributors exhibited at World of Concrete, including EFCO Corporation with its concrete forming systems; Iowa Mold Tooling Company and its field service, lubrication and material handling trucks; and Allmand with its compact tractor loader backhoe and lighting systems.
Among the other attention-getting exhibits, attendees got a first look at a prototype hybrid excavator and got another look at a remote-controlled power trowel.
Kobelco's HE-01 Prototype Hybrid excavator on display at the New Holland exhibit is a 7-ton class machine powered by both an engine and a battery-powered motor. The Hybrid has the same capabilities as a same-class excavator powered by only a diesel engine while reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 40 percent. According to the manufacturer, the machine is also quieter because of its smaller engine. Kobelco plans to bring the new hybrid excavator to market in a year or so after assessing performance and market trends and reducing costs.
Tibroc's CF-40 radio-controlled power trowel was one of the winners in the 2005 World of Concrete's Most Innovative Products contest but it was still drawing lots of attendees this year. The 90-pound unit is powered by a 2.5-horsepower, 4-stroke engine and, according to the manufacturer, can save more than $21 per 100 square feet versus finishing concrete by hand. If their smiles were any indication, the contractors who tried the machine on the slab would have paid that much just to operate it for a few minutes.
Throughout the show, exhibitors and attendees alike were upbeat, both about their own businesses and about prospects for the industry in general.
And, according to a forecast given at a World of Concrete press conference by Ed Sullivan, chief economist for the Portland Cement Association (PCA), that optimism is justified.
"Because of the relative pricing position of concrete to competing building materials — particularly asphalt, which has recently posted 33 percent price increases — cement intensities are expected to grow by 2 percent in 2007, even when overall consumption is relatively flat," said Sullivan, who has been cited in each of the past two years by the Chicago Federal Reserve as the most accurate economic forecaster regarding economic growth.
His forecast calls for sustained growth in the commercial and public sectors that will boost cement consumption in 2007 and 2008. His most recent forecast predicts a 7.6-percent consumption increase in 2007 for nonresidential and a 4.4-percent jump in the public sector.
For the 90,000-plus who gathered last month in Las Vegas, that is good news.