Construction in the U.S. and Europe is showing signs of recovery, while China and other emerging markets are slowing down. Offering a snapshot of the resulting shift in equipment demand is Bauma, the triennial construction megaexpo said to be the world’s largest trade show, where more than 500,000 construction professionals, suppliers and vendors will descend on Munich on April 11-17. Messe München, the organizer of the show, expects almost 3,400 exhibitors from more than 50 countries. The show will encompass over 6.5 million sq ft of the Messe München exhibition center.
Less Focus on the BRICs
With financial turmoil in China and low oil prices dragging down the Russian economy, the new markets for construction equipment that looked secure only a few years ago are now a bit less attractive.
The push to get into the emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) that was seen at Bauma 2013 has diminished. This also applies to BRIC manufacturers that grew during the recent boom times. China-based equipment makers at Bauma are eager to prove the worth of their machinery, as demand from China state-owned construction firms may be leveling off.
Guangxi LiuGong Construction Machinery Co. Ltd. is pushing new machines, looking to capitalize on equipment previously not sold outside of China.
“It’s hard to grow market share in China,” says David Beatenbough, vice president of Guangxi, China-based LiuGong. “So, we realized a long time before the China market slowed down that our growth in the future has to be growth outside of China,” he says.
LiuGong is known for its wheel loaders but has expanded into excavators in recent years. At Bauma, it will be showing seven excavators in classes ranging from 3.5 tons to 50 tons. The smallest, the 9035E, will be a zero-tail-swing model, a popular feature in Europe and the U.S. and a first for the China-based manufacturer. Four of LiuGong’s excavators will have Tier 4 Final diesel engines, and all will be available with Tier 4 Final by the end of 2016.
Machines with fewer emissions controls will continue to be sold globally, but Beatenbough says LiuGong is focused on getting into North America and expanding in Europe.“With the Chinese market slowing down—now in its third year of dramatic slowdown—the importance of our decision [to expand into developed markets] is even stronger,” he notes.
High Tech Goes Standard
With construction starts on the rise in the U.S. and indications that Europe also is recovering, equipment makers are offering features as standard that were formerly premium. Bauma will showcase compact designs for crowded jobsites and machine controls for greater automation—sought-after features for developed markets. Wirtgen will have a compact milling machine that needs only one operator, while JCB is showing off a small-profile backhoe for urban jobsites. Machine controls for earthmoving are becoming less of a premium feature, as well. While Topcon Positioning Systems will update and make globally available its 2D and 3D control offerings, Komatsu plans to introduce a new intelligent dozer.
Commodity Prices Drag Down Mining
Some of the most highly visible equipment at each Bauma expo is the massive mining trucks and other equipment associated with the extraction industries. But with commodity prices down, the enthusiasm for new mining equipment may be more subdued than at the last show. “The big machines look good at Bauma,” observes Gerold Dobler, Liebherr’s spokesman. The company plans to debut its R9200 mining excavator at Bauma. Working in the 200-tonne range, the R9200 will be the largest piece of equipment at the entire show. “We are committed to the mining field, and while commodity prices are what they are, we will be there when the market recovers,” he adds.
Perhaps anticipating lessened interest from mining-focused firms, show manager Messe München will try to highlight mining-related offerings. “In 2016, we have a focus on mining because we think that mining is getting more and more important for the construction machinery industry as a whole,” says Stefan Rummel, the show agency’s managing director.
Tunneling-equipment giant Herrenknecht AG will have a separate booth to show off its less-well-known mining equipment. “Mining is quite new for us,” says Julia Reichwein, Herrenknecht’s spokeswoman. The firm, best known for its massive tunnel-boring machines, will be displaying a boxhole drill rig for mining. “We have more projects in mining now, and this is our first chance to feature these machines separately,” she says.