All eyes on Munich

15 April 2008

Bauma affords equipment buyers an unrivalled opportunity to look over the latest products from the world's major construction machinery manufacturers. This year's show – held slightly later than previous editions, from 23 to 29 April – will be bigger than the last event, held in 2004, so will be the largest collection of construction equipment ever assembled in one place!

Exhibition space at Bauma 2007 has been increased, with an extra 30000 m2 available thanks to the construction of two new halls, for a total area of 530000 m3. Another improvement over 2004 is the closure of a road through the outside area, which cut the Northern exhibition space in two. Last time around access from the main area to this island was only possible using overcrowded footbridges, which made it a slow journey. But this year, things should be much freer flowing.

This extra space will be used in some interesting ways, such as helping to accommodate exhibitors from the emerging economies of China and India. The space allocated to Chinese manufacturers is five times greater than in 2004; that for India four times more; and Japan by five times. Bauma's organisers say exhibitors from Austria, Luxemburg, Turkey, Korea and Greece have doubled their demand.

Of course, this growth also relates to the generally buoyant construction equipment markets worldwide, and in particular to the importance of the European marketplace, especially at a time when the US market shows signs of cooling off.

Germany itself is a powerful attraction to equipment suppliers – three quarters of the over 415000 visitors in 2004 were from Germany, and the improved market conditions in Bauma's home country will have provided an added incentive to many exhibitors. That said, Bauma is a genuinely international show, with over 120000 visitors from outside Germany last time.

Emissions Laws

Bauma is of course the stage on which many manufactures launch new machines. As with recent years, the introduction of new engine emissions laws are expected to dictate many of 2007's introductions. The start of the year saw new Stage IIIA exhaust emissions laws come in for off-highway machines using diesel engines in the 19 to 37 kW and 75 to 130 kW powerbands.

These ratings cover a huge range of equipment. The lower 19 to 37 kW band encompasses pretty much all compact equipment – mini excavators up to 5 tonnes, most skid steer loader and compact wheeled loader models, and so on. This adds up to about 70000 units per year in Europe alone – more than 40% of the entire market in volume terms.

The 75 to 130 kW powerband is also significant, covering what could be described as 'mid-range' equipment. Examples of machines affected include excavators from about 13 to 25 tonnes, wheeled loaders in the 2 m3 to 3,5 m3 (standard duty) bucket classes, D5 and D6 class dozers, compactors from about 8 to 15 tonnes and so on.

While sales of these are not as high in volume terms as the compact equipment used in small-scale and utility work, it is still a very significant group of machines. It covers many of the more popular classes of equipment used in road maintenance and new build, and other small and medium sized civil engineering projects. The 20 tonne class of crawler excavators for example is the most popular in Europe, and indeed the world.

Many of the new machines being launched at Bauma CE has learnt of to date are covered by these powerbands. They include Bobcat's 425 ZTS mini excavator, a zero tail swing mini excavator, weighing in at 2,65 tonnes. Hitachi will also be active in this area, with the unveiling of its ZX08-2, ZX10U-2, ZX17U-2 and ZX22U-2 mini excavators from 0,8 to 2,2 tonnes. Those with a U designation are zero tail swing.

Other new Hitachi machines will include the ZX140W-3, ZX170W-3, ZX190W-3 and ZX210W-3 wheeled excavators, ranging from 14 to 21 tonnes, along with the ZX160-3 and ZX180-3 16 and 18 tonne crawler models.

Volvo's plans are similar, with its stand set to feature examples of its new C-Series excavator range. New models include the EC160C, EC180C and EC210C tracked models from 16,7 to 23,4 tonnes, and the EW140C, EW160C and EW180C wheeled versions from 14,3 to 18,0 tonnes. The company's new F-Series wheeled loaders will also be on show, and the first models to be produced are the 116 kW L60F, 126 kW L70F and 129 kW L90F.

Case's Bauma launches will be on similar lines, as dictated by Stage IIIA – the 21 tonne CX210B crawler excavator, and E-series compact wheeled loaders. However, the company will also launch products outside the requirements, such as the 821E wheeled loader, with its 159 kW engine.

These are just a few examples of the Bauma launches CE has received confirmation on, but expect all the major players in the earthmoving sector to follow suit.

Despite the pressures of new emissions laws, it would be wrong to think all the new machines being unveiled at Bauma will fall into these two general categories. Many companies will take the opportunity to unveil new machines and product lines outside these engine powerbands.

It is also worth remembering that the majority of companies exhibiting at Bauma do not make equipment with a diesel engine installed. Yes, the earthmoving and road building equipment makers have (by far) the biggest stands, but in terms of numbers of exhibitors, there are many more companies making attachments, consumables, components, static equipment and ancillary products.

New Technology

One interesting area will be engine manufacturers. For them Stage IIIA is old news, and they are now looking ahead to Stages IIIB and IV, which will come into force between 2011 and 2014. These standards will be much more demanding, with requirements to cut particulate matter (PM) emissions, followed by further reductions in gaseous pollutants. Meeting these requirements will undoubtedly see new technology such as particulate filters and after-treatment systems introduced to the off-highway equipment market.

Another interesting area is Hybrid technology and alternative power sources. Last year's Intermat exhibition in Paris, France saw Volvo and New Holland unveil prototype systems that combined battery and alternator technology with traditional diesel engines, which should, in theory, lead to machines with radically lower fuel consumption.

With oil prices remaining historically high and global warming a growing concern, these technologies and the emergence of alternative fuels such as biodiesel, ethanol and hydrogen seem set to become more and more important. It will be interesting to see if more companies pick-up on this trend, or indeed on the lead shown last year by Hitachi and Takeuchi in producing battery-powered compact excavators, with innovative new technologies at Bauma.

Coming Next Month

So visitors to Bauma will have plenty of new equipment to assess. CE will be providing a comprehensive Show Guide in next month's edition.

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