Machine technology live in a quarry
31 August 2017
Earth-moving is booming – mineral processing still weak
VDMA announces digitalization campaign
The perfect place for the THINK BIG! youth initiative
For the large sector of earth-moving equipment in the VDMA Construction Equipment and Building Materials Machinery Association, the steinexpo demonstration trade fair, which takes place from August 30th to September 2nd, 2017 in the Nieder-Ofleiden basalt quarry, has made a name for itself. In Europe, it is one of the few trade fairs where the interaction of large machines can be presented and experienced under real-life conditions and in direct comparison, said VDMA Spokesman and Board Member Christian Krauskopf (Volvo) at the opening of the fair. The sector reaches a majority of its customers here, as more than half of the construction equipment, which equates to a value of EUR 3.6 billion, exported from Germany remains in Europe. In addition, there is other construction equipment worth EUR 3 billion which is manufactured and remains in Germany.
Earth-moving equipment is booming
In the first six months of this year, the turnover of construction equipment manufacturers was around 19 percent higher than the already high value of the previous year. In addition, there is an impressive increase in orders of over 18%, as construction equipment is ordered all over the world. In the first half of the year, growth was 20% worldwide, 18% in Europe and 14% in Germany compared to 2016. More than 30,000 earth-moving machines could be sold again this year in Germany alone, estimates Joachim Schmid, Managing Director of the VDMA Construction Equipment and Building Materials Machinery Association. This shows at what a high level the industry is currently positioned.
Mineral Processing technology believes in an upturn
The suppliers to the raw materials industry have had a hard time. After a year of weak turnover in 2016, the sector is now expecting better business and a widespread upturn by 2018 at the latest. In 2016, processing technology worth approx. EUR 700 million was produced in Germany. That is 16% below the record level of 2011. Machines and systems worth only EUR 200 million remained in Germany. 73 percent were exported.
VDMA announces digitalization campaign
Today, innovation processes are being driven more than ever by digitalization. “Compared to other industries, the construction equipment and building material machinery industry has a long way to go,” explained Schmid. This is due to the complexity of construction sites and the heterogeneity of the machines, processes and customers. Many mechanical engineers offer digitalized fleet management, remote maintenance, assistance systems and even driverless machines, but these solutions are manufacturer-specific and not compatible. Therefore, his Association is now pushing for a holistic approach which focuses on customers, regardless of the technologies, brands and machines they use. “With new standardized and Industrie 4.0-compatible networking options, we want to utilize the potential for new, future-oriented business models and more efficiency,” says Schmid. In the coming years, together with the construction equipment manufacturers, international digital standards for communication between construction equipment and building materials machines from different manufacturers and brands are to be developed and established. At the same time, the Forschungsvereinigung Bau- und Baustoffmaschinen (Research Association for Construction Equipment and Building Material Machinesry – FVB), which is tied to the VDMA, is initiating a research project to study and develop innovative, powerful and flexible machine and communication technologies to support the medium-sized industry with the implementation of the Industrie 4.0 guiding principles for construction sites. Existing models and structures such as BIM or RAMI are to be used and adopted to sector-specific general requirements.
The perfect backdrop for the THINK BIG! youth initiative
The active quarry with its large machines in action provides the perfect backdrop to arouse the curiosity and fascination of young people for the construction equipment and building materials machines industry. As part of its THINK BIG! youth initiative, the VDMA is bringing in total 400 pupils from grades 8 to 12 to the trade fair on August 31 and September 1. Exhibitors’ trainees will guide them around the grounds in small groups. The groups head to the companies supporting the initiative and which provide, especially for this campaign, various offers at their stands for the pupils. The effort that goes into the competition for newcomers is immense, especially among the technical disciplines. VDMA and member companies must invest a great deal, so that the industry represented at steinexpo is perceived as an interesting employer among young people, emphasized Schmid.