Shows such as World of Concrete and CONEXPO-CON/AGG will reveal new trends in heavy construction equipment.

Contractors who remain successful in the current climate have done so by delivering inventive services and solutions that meet changing customer needs, including services that the competition previously overlooked. For example, contractors are seeking innovative work in areas such as alternative energy, conservation, infrastructure or other areas being funded through special initiatives like the American Reinvestment & Recovery Act.

EPA Tier 4 Emissions Requirements

Get the first look at new and upgraded models of off-road equipment at the World of Concrete and CONEXPO-CON/AGG. Manufacturers will display equipment that complies with the EPA's interim Tier 4 emissions requirements. For example, some manufacturers will introduce new models with increased fuel efficiency.

The implementation of interim Tier 4 regulations next year-aimed at significantly reducing particulate matter and nitrogen oxide emissions-will be an important milestone for the construction industry. Construction business owners can help stimulate the economic recovery by investing in Tier 4-compliant equipment that offers new benefits, such as increased horsepower and additional fuel savings.

As manufacturers focus on ways of making equipment more efficient and productive, contractors face the realities of the overall economy and local construction market conditions.

Looking Ahead

The commercial side of the private sector is showing more signs of life than the residential construction market. Construction lending is still tight, which continues to have an effect on the market. Interestingly, construction equipment exports from U.S. manufacturers have increased 15 percent from last year, according to the Associated Equipment Manufacturers - perhaps an indicator of growth for the U.S. market.

Contractors appear to be using compact equipment on more infrastructure projects. This may be explained by the fact that skid steers, compact track loaders, compact excavators and other compact models are versatile, affordable to buy or rent and economical to operate. Equipment manufactures consider that versatility is an important benefit to contractors looking for ways to cut costs and get the job done effectively.

What to Expect

Traditionally, growth has sprung from innovation. Appropriately, the organizers of next year's CONEXPO-CON/AGG named the theme "Innovation from the Ground Up."

In 2011, manufacturers are reenergizing industry growth with the next generation of compact, mid-sized and heavy construction equipment. Some manufacturers plan an aggressive series of product launches throughout the year.

Generally, several important categories of innovation are expected next year:

  • Green technology - In addition to complying with interim Tier 4 emissions regulations, manufacturers will deliver increasingly fuel-efficient machines. Machine design will offer easier access for routine maintenance, helping to ensure the safe handling, disposal and recycling of fluids, filters and parts.
  • Power and performance - Improved design of booms, buckets, blades and other basic machine systems will increase productivity and durability. Enhancements to engines, hydraulics and power train systems will deliver higher performance. Improvements to operator comfort and safety, including more ergonomic controls and greater visibility from the cab, will boost safety and productivity.
  • Versatility and value - With new attachments, improved auxiliary hydraulics to operate them and easier coupling mechanisms, the new generation of construction machines will offer increased versatility and value. Also, GPS guidance systems for grading and other precision applications will become standard equipment.
  • Reduced ownership and operating costs - In addition to improved fuel economy and maintainability, applications, such as remotely monitoring machine operations and fuel usage will help improve fleet operations and efficiency.

Whatever the focus of your construction business, owners and operators can count on new solutions from the equipment manufacturers that will help operations run more efficiently, productively and profitably in 2011 and beyond.


Construction Business Owner, October 2010