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ABE work trips like London buses

First publishedin Aggregates Business Europe
May June 2019
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PIC CAPTION: A packed bauma 2019 Munich exhibition showground pic: Messe München
Don’t know about you, but my work trips with Aggregates Business are very much like the London buses analogy: ‘You wait ages for one and then two or three come along at once’. You can’t be out and about all the time, as you need a reasonable amount of writing and editing time for each issue of this magazine. Consequently, it had felt like a while since my early January 2019 trip to southwest and western Germany with the Wirtgen Group to report on the big growth plans for Benninghoven and Kleemann, the latter of which you can read more about in this issue, and my 28-29 January attendance at the pre-bauma 2019 Media Dialog in Munich, Germany.

Now, as I write this column, I’m looking back on three diverse and productive trips. The first was a 21-22 March trip to Copenhagen for the latest EMSAGG (European Marine Sand & Gravel Group) – Knowledge Sharing Workshop. This highly interesting and thought-provoking event illustrated both the importance of marine aggregates to the overall global aggregates sector, the varied regulation across Europe when it comes to sand and gravel extraction, the difference in product pricing between nations, and the marine aggregates paradox: between marine aggregates suppliers wanting larger areas from which to source material, leading to greater material volume and lower product prices; and the general public and local authorities tending towards the restriction of marine aggregates cultivation, thus limiting supply and raising prices.

On 5-6 April I flew to Milan for the opening of innovative global off-highway machine tyre maker BKT’s new European headquarters, in the attractive town of Seregno in Monza province, near Milan. The highly ambitious Indian manufacturer, whose eye-catching research and development work includes a joint agreement with Kultevat, a leading US bio-tech company specialising in the cultivation and processing of TKS dandelion as a renewable and sustainable alternative to natural rubber, sees Europe as a key regional market for its wide off-highway tyre range. The firm’s new state-of-the-art HQ is an important part of their global growth strategy.

From the BKT event I was straight on a plane to Munich to join Route One Publishing’s Daily News team covering the bauma 2019 exhibition (8-13 April), the world’s largest construction and quarrying equipment showcase. It was an action-packed week full of new machine and technology launches. Highlights from an aggregates processing perspective included Metso’s debut in the hauling market, with a new haul truck body solution allowing trucks to haul more material than with a standard truck body. Terex Materials Processing’s OMNI solution, a tablet-based system fitted within the cab of a material feed excavator providing centralised remote access to multiple machine control systems within a crushing and screening train, also caught the eye. Meanwhile, leading aggregates wash plant manufacturer CDE showcased CDE COMBO, the world’s first all-in-one wet processing and water recycling system, and the firm’s CORE smart technology suite, featuring an easy-to-use monitoring system, a digital tool to manage and simplify operator workflows, and a bespoke 3D catalogue of parts which is tailored for each customer’s individual equipment.

Looking back on the bauma 2019 exhibition, for me the volume of new software solutions linked to the digitalisation of the construction and aggregates processing equipment sectors was the highlight of the week. The fact that quarry operators can, with these solutions, achieve greater production volume and efficiency, thus generating and saving money in equal measure, represents exciting progress for our industry. You will be reading a lot more within this magazine about how technology is becoming a trusted friend to global aggregates production, with new quarrying tech-linked features, like predictive plant maintenance, appearing more frequently.