50 years of International Construction magazine: Part 2 - the 1960s
By Helen Wright05 March 2012
The 1960's were the backdrop to some of the largest infrastructure projects the world had ever seen.
Ambition was everywhere - from the massive Churchill Falls hydroelectric power plant in Canada, which cost CA$ 1 billion to develop at the time (the equivalent to about US$ 6.3 billion in today's money), to the birth of high speed rail in Japan and the construction of the iconic Kennedy Space Centre Vehicle Assembly Building in Florida, US, which to this day remains the largest single-storey building in the world.
As well as documenting these huge projects, iC also featured reports on the use of pre-fabricated materials and in-situ construction techniques, which was becoming more mainstream, as well as pioneering new electronic site investigation technology, which was being developed at the same time as the first computers.
And some familiar names were at the forefront of developments when it came to new technology for construction equipment. For instance, iC November 1965 contained a feature on an early construction machinery simulator, which was developed by Caterpillar.
In order to test how a machine that had not yet been built might cope with a rough stretch of road, the simulator consisted of a ride platform including a seat and controls, a drive mechanism and an analogue computer which directed the drive unit using a mathematical model of the vehicle being evaluated.
While this was ahead of its time, a host other developments were also taking place in the construction machinery world during that decade, with manufacturers focussed in particular on the development of high pressure hydraulic systems and the introduction of hydrostatic powered steering.
In fact, 1969 was a very busy year in terms of new launches - featuring a Bauma exhibition in Munich, Germany, a Conexpo show in Chicago, US, and a Samoter exhibition in Verona, Italy.
As it still does today, iC followed the latest launches closely, documenting new machines from still familiar names such as Putzmeister, which introduced a new concrete pump at that year's Bauma show which was capable of handling up to 60 m3 per hour at heights of up to 14 m, to Liebherr, which caused a buzz at the show with the launch of its 971 hydraulic excavator.
The magazine also tracked the rise Japanese construction equipment manufacturers during the 1960's, in particular the development of new compact machinery. Names like Hino Motors, Mitsubishi, Kato Works and Komatsu started appearing in iC towards the end of the decade, heralding the start of a new era.
But as it looked ahead, the construction equipment industry didn't always get everything right. One particularly fascinating report in the September 1965 issue detailed imaginative offerings at the General Motors Futurama exhibit during the New York World's Fair.
The concept vehicles of the future (pictured) included a machine that could convert jungle to motorway in just one pass, and advanced tree clearance using laser cutters. Strangely, these ideas don't seem to have made it far from the drawing board.