Mix it up
25 March 2008
If there is talk of recession, it didn't seem to impinge greatly on this year's World of Concrete (WoC) show – held in Las Vegas over a week's stretch in late January – which seemed as vibrant as ever. The Las Vegas Convention Center saw some 90,000 attendees walking its floors to visit with the more than 1,700 exhibitors in all three of its halls.
WoC is a significant telehandler event, of course, and many North American – and overseas – manufacturers made an appearance, with several introducing new models. Many rough terrain vehicles introduced were “European–type machines,” meaning the smaller, more compact models designed to maneuver around the tighter job sites and ideal for settings such as lumberyards, agricultural and even industrial use.
It was also an opportunity for some big names to show machines that were noteworthy for particular reasons. Thus, Caterpillar showed one of its new JLG–built handlers, while Pettibone, Ingersoll Rand and Genie all made sure to have their current models on display. JLG, meanwhile, was attending its first big show under Oshkosh ownership – with Oshkosh branding evident, but not dominant – and should be applauded for again sponsoring a successful Telehandler Skills Challenge competition (see news this issue).
Getting back to the new equipment on show, Mustang introduced its new compact telehandler at the show to warm reception. Like all the manufacturers, the ergonomic set up in the cab is now a staple and designed to keep the interior comfortable for the operator all day. The Model 519 has pop–out windows, rear–wheel steer accessed from cab, options for more lighting, and three–steering modes (two–, four– and crab–steer button–activated controls). It has a 19 foot height reach with a 3,000 pound capacity at maximum lift height.
“It's a machine that will go to as many end users as rental companies,” says the company's Region Sales Manager Terry Ober, while giving ALH a tour at its booth. Marketed as a versatile machine, it can be used for both material handling and for the agricultural sector. With its 64 horsepower Duetz diesel engine that has a two–speed hydraulic transmission for low–end power, it can zip around the job site at approximately 15 mph.
It has easy access to the mechanics inside for easy maintenance. Although considered a rough terrain vehicle, the company anticipates that it will be used for industrial applications, as well.
Gehl's new model RS5–19 telehandler, manufactured in Yankton, SD, is a rental–based machine good for ground engagement. “The machine came on board because we didn't have this size class,” says John Rau, with the company, mentioning that any sales made at the show would have an immediate to 90 day turnaround. He mentioned also he'd like to see this model break into the international market.
The machine, a twin to the Mustang 519 in just about everything minus the company name and decals, has a weight capacity of 5,500 pounds and can lift up to 19 feet. Another compact–style machine, the RS5–19 rear axle stabilizer cylinder locks the axle to improve its stability whenever the boom is raised 60 degrees. It also has easy–to–use joysticks that control the boom and tilt. The company went for optimal comfort with a spacious cab that includes an adjustable armrest. The company knows that good operator visibility is high on renters’ and end users’ minds when shopping for a machine, so Gehl did its best to provide a 360–degree view from the cab.
One of the smallest, most compact models introduced at the show, the machine has a width of 5 feet 11 inches and stands only 6 feet 4 inches in height.
A good example of the European–style machines was the three new models introduced at the show by New Holland. Its M427, M428 and M459 telehandlers have been available in Europe for a couple years, but have now been modified for the North American market. Each varying in degrees of lift capacity (from 6,600 to 9,000 pounds), its maximum lifting heights range near 42 feet on the M427 and 428 machines, while the M459 reaches 441/2 feet.
“We didn't want to just give the market a product and expect them to except it,” says Eric Winkler, brand marketing manager with New Holland. “We made sure it was a product that our customers really wanted.”
The company is marketing these as strong, durable machines that can also function smoothly in tighter spots. The machines have the choice of three–steering modes (standard, four and crab) inside its spacious cab design. Its single joystick easily controls the boom and attachments.
The machines can be easily serviced from ground–level with a flip–up hood for engine access. With a powershift transmission, the telehandlers can cruise around quite fast (up to 22 mph). Winkler says how operators and contractors walking the floors appreciated its low boom placement that increases visibility from the cab and how easy it would be to service the side–mounted engine.
Manitou had a busy show with the introductions of two new rough terrain vehicles. Its new MT 732 utility telehandler is rugged enough for the job site and has a reinforced boom that can be used on unimproved surfaces. The machine has a Tier II Perkins 84 horsepower engine and the hydraulic control system on the machine has been improved, providing easy use and productivity on all hydraulic functions. The company's joystick controls (called “Load Placing System”) feature dual linked joysticks providing both lift and place construction controls and agricultural style loader controls on the same machine. In addition, the directional control of the transmission is integrated into the joystick allowing for single–hand operation of all truck functions.
Testament to its commitment to continue to produce an industry standard, Manitou also introduced its MH 25–4T vertical mast forklift. The machine, a four–wheel drive version of its existing MSI series, is built for semi–rough terrain conditions, including agricultural. It has a turbocharged diesel engine, hydrostatic drives on all four wheels that offer strong traction control and gradeability. The MH 25–4T machine offers good comfort for operator that has easy on and off access while maneuvering on any condition on the job site.
On home turf, meanwhile, Xtreme Manufacturing, and the Las Vegas company's latest model is anything but compact: the new XRM1267 weighs 46,300 pounds and can pick up to 12,000 pounds, and 3,000 pounds at its maximum 54 feet forward reach. Maximum lift height is a massive 67 feet. The powershift transmission is by Clark with axles provided by Dana Spicer. The machine can operate every function simultaneously.
The company claims its real safety feature is cab visibility, with its frame above the cab fanning in and out for optimal visibility. Cab features include a suspension seat, heater/AC and lunch box below its seating. It has double–lock up cylinders for safety. The exhaust feeds along the back frame. Its engine is easily accessible with a sliding door. The whole machine is welded, not bolted, so the frame will not shift over time. Several attachments may be used with the machine, including utility and concrete buckets. Accessories and options include enclosed cab, fourth steer mode, rear pivot, a work light package and rotary beacon.
The machine is now available but according to Xtreme's President/CEO Don Ahern (also president of Ahern Rentals), the machine will not be sold to rental companies but strictly to the end user. Xtreme doesn't just offer big machines like these, it is also US agent for Dieci of Italy, who specialize in the smaller compact handlers, as well as bigger rotating cab and boom “Roto” models.
Other notable machines at the show? Italy's Faresin exhibited its handlers at WoC for the first time – although it showed its scaffolding and formwork products at last year's event – and chief executive Silvia Faresin (daughter of company founder Sante Faresin) tells ALH that it is seeking dealer in the US (it already has one in Canada).
She says the company will develop US–style cabs for the machines, and these will be available before the end of 2007. The company showed two of its largest models in Las Vegas, the 92.46 (9,200 pounds capacity, 45 foot reach) and the 88.56. Champ Construction Corp. in New Jersey is Faresin's first US customer, having ordered an 88.56.
The show next year takes place in Las Vegas on January 22 through 25. Perhaps 12 months on we will see rather more talk of a slowdown.