CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2020, “North America’s Largest Construction Show,” was held from March 10-14 in Las Vegas. The show closed down a day early as the Coronavirus Pandemic set in, but other than that, it was a success.
My history with this show dates back to 1999. A lot has changed since that time, from the size and scope of the show to the evolution of the equipment and technology. One thing that hasn’t changed is that this kid in the candy shop, while a lot more seasoned, is still passionate about the equipment.
My time at CONEXPO 2020 was limited to March 11th and 12th so the goal was to take in as much as possible. We had some customers exhibiting and some prospect meet-ups scheduled, which crunched the available time even more.
I covered a lot of ground by walking fast and spent most of my time obsessively capturing photo and video footage of the equipment in action. With more than 2,000 exhibitors packed into outdoor and indoor facilities, attracting attention was incredibly tough. The following are some photos and a quick assessment of what caught my attention and why.
The thing that jumped out at as I walked through a sea of towering crushers and grinders was the display MB had set up in corner of the lot. A Hyundai Excavator with an MB Shafts Screener was perched on a hill of crushed rock churning out material. The loud screeching of the bucket combined with the narration on the loudspeaker drew the crowds. It was a reminder that working equipment draws more interest than idle equipment.
The Husqvarna exhibit was a beehive of activity. In fact, I couldn’t stop capturing video because it was so interesting. There were diamond tools pounding, crushing, sawing, drilling, and more. Not to mention, there were demolition robots, a remote-control trench compactor, and ride-on trowels. The take-away here is that the more demos you run, the more you stand out. More interesting equipment is a plus, too.
The BAUER exhibit included BAUER Equipment America, Equipment Corporation of America (ECA), KLEMM, RTG, and BAUER MAT. BAUER is a global leader in foundation equipment and it rolled out two new KLEMM Drilling Rigs and a BAUER MAT Grout and Slurry Mixing Plant, in addition to several other existing drilling and piling rigs. The BAUER simulator was also a draw. Like Cat, there are brand loyalists that made visiting BAUER a priority. Displaying high-end foundation equipment in a show dominated by standard heavy equipment also gave Team BAUER the power of differentiation.
Cat essentially built a dirt arena, partially enclosed by a multi-story grandstand, to demo its equipment . There were hundreds of people at every level, admiring its yellow iron in action. With a massive video screen and live broadcasting of the action, Cat basically had an infomercial running on a continuous loop. I toured the company’s Peoria operation in the early 1990s, including the rotating grandstand where the company hosts customers for equipment demos, so this brought back some memories. There was even a store selling Cat merchandise. The big take-away here is that brand matters. Cat loyalists wouldn’t have missed this exhibit to save the world, and the company capitalized by reinforcing its brand.
Built Robotics unveiled its robots to the public for the first time ever at CONEXPO 2020. The company demonstrated its technology in use on an excavator, bulldozer and compact track loader. One lucky visitor even had a chance to remotely operate an 80,000 pound robot in Houston, Texas. Built Robotics harnessed the power of new. Construction technology is the future and Built Robotics is the front runner in this narrow software market. The takeaway here is that new and exciting, especially during times of radical change, always draws a crowd.
Rototilt was tucked away in a dark corner but dozens of people gathered to watch its demos. They stuck around, too. Rototilt transforms excavators or backhoes into multi-functional tool carriers and the operator switched quickly and flawlessly between attachments. This operator seemed to have an expression for every attachment, which added to the interest in a small demo area. Time is of the essence at CONEXPO 2020 with so much to see. The takeaway here is that its critical to switch it up and keeping things moving if you want to retain attention.
SANY’s exhibit was basically an equipment demo surrounded by a raging party. Tunes like “Eye of the Tiger” and “Born to be Wild” blared from the speakers as excavators “danced” to the music. Speaking of dancing, SANY also had actual dancers on foot and on roller skates. A narrator hollered over the noise with lots of information on the features and benefits on the excavators. The take-away here is that fun works. SANY not only created a party atmosphere, but demonstrated the functionality of its equipment in a different way.
Conclusions from CONEXPO 2020
This is in no way a comprehensive list of interesting exhibits at CONEXPO 2020. Consider it a random sampling. Providing a comprehensive breakdown in a show packed with the world’s most incredible construction technologies and products would take a far more than a single article.
What grabbed your attention at CONEXPO 2020? Did you have a favorite exhibit or product?
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Disclosure: Equipment Corporation of America is a Fraley Construction Marketing customer.