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Good Times for Equipment Development

Forr those who didn't make it to World of Concrete this year – and I didn't run into any rental people there last week except Don Ahern who was there with his constantly expanding Xtreme Forklifts – it was an interesting week. Attendance was about 50,000, compared to around 90,000 during the peak a few years back.

Some exhibitors were clearly disappointed by the foot traffic, pretty much the same as last year, give or take a few thousand. Yet many said that they made equipment sales, got good quality leads and didn't mind the absence of large contingents of “tire-kickers.” In flush times, typically contractors reward staff with a few days in Vegas and a chance to walk around the equipment show. The absence of large groups of staffs kept the show more focused. Not that those staffers shouldn't get the chance to attend when the economy permits, but basically the show did maintain a serious level of equipment presentation and looking at new developments in equipment.

There was a lot of new equipment with some impressive innovation and this brief blog is by no means an inclusive view. Multiquip showed off its new hydrogen fuel-cell-powered light tower, a definite step forward in environmental technology. Case showed off a number of new items, the first of about 40 new products the company plans to present in 2011. Stanley Hydraulic Tools introduced its new remote controlled demolition robot, a track-based electrically driven carrier designed for the dismantling of concrete slabs, stairwells, walls and other interior structures. Watching the operator break slabs and cut rebar using the robotic controller not too much bigger than my son's X-Box controller was a fascinating window on where the construction industry is going. Terex' new backhoe, skid-steer loader line and compact track loader showed that that company has certainly not skimped on R&D.

Bobcat, Hilti, Wacker, Briggs & Stratton, American Honda, New Holland, Subaru with its engines specifically designed for rammers, and the aforementioned Xtreme Forklift with its new 70-foot reach telehandler — I could go on and on and we will be presenting a lot more information about these and many other companies' new products in our twice-weekly editions of RER Reports, in the monthly editions of RER magazine, on the Postcards from Las Vegas section of our main website, and we'll be tweeting live from The Rental Show and ConExpo as well. If you don't already, follow us at!/RERmagazine. I invite you to tune in regularly over the next few weeks.

With so many interesting new products being launched at World of Concrete, my appetite is certainly whet to see what is to come at The Rental Show in February and ConExpo — the mother of all North American construction shows — in March. I may get tired of the endless bustle and hustle of Las Vegas, but I won't get tired to see that, in spite of the tough economic times they've been through, equipment manufacturers are as innovative if not more innovative than ever.

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