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A French phrase for quarrying today & tomorrow

First publishedin Aggregates Business Europe
November December 2018
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Hitachi ZX210X-6 ICT 650.jpg
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” is an epigram written by French critic, journalist and novelist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr in the mid-19th century. Translated into English as “The more it changes, the more it remains the same”, I think it’s a fitting phrase to convey how Europe and indeed the world’s quarrying and construction equipment manufacturers are beavering away either individually or with joint venture partners to enhance their own specific brand of telematics and machine control systems; systems that will, essentially, offer customers the same end result: greater fleet and jobsite efficiency. And that can only be a good thing for quarry operators and contractors looking to lower their all-important cost per production tonne.

In September this year I was part of a large global construction and quarrying trade media party at Hitachi Construction Machinery (Europe)’s (HCME) press day event at the company’s Amsterdam HQ. The day included the launch of Hitachi Construction Machinery’s first ICT (Information & Communications Technology) hydraulic excavator with machine control in Europe, the ZX210X-6. While it was very interesting to hear the manufacturer explain how the model’s built-in use of cutting-edge ICT will offer customers big loading efficiency and safety gains, it was just as interesting to hear a presentation by Yoshi Furuno, general manager of Hitachi Construction Machinery’s client solutions division.

In his presentation titled Connected Job Site, Furuno highlighted how the ICT trend is growing rapidly in the construction and quarrying industry, with the Internet of Things (IoT), Building Information Modelling (BIM), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Analytics, the Cloud and Big Data, some of it accessible through a Wearable device, all playing a part in it.

Furuno described how Hitachi Construction Machinery’s ICT and IoT solutions – packaged together as Solution Linkage – will help overcome the construction and quarrying industry’s social challenges such as skilled and highly skilled worker shortages, slow growth in production volumes and quality, and the need to achieve sustainable growth while meeting emission regulations.

I am looking forward to hearing a lot more about ICT and IoT solutions from not only Hitachi Construction Machinery, but all the world’s major and ambitious small to medium-sized original construction and quarrying equipment manufacturers when they gather at bauma Munich, the world’s biggest industry showcase taking place 8-14 April 2019.

Away from all things ICT and IoT, I’m writing this comment piece just ahead of catching a short flight from Birmingham to Northern Ireland, where Aggregates Business colleagues and I will be visiting a wide variety of global market quarrying equipment manufacturers. Autumn is always a good time to make such trips as manufacturers have a lot to say on their trading year, standout equipment products and, crucially, what kind of models they are planning to bring to market in 2019 and beyond. Mid-Ulster has such an abundance of quarrying equipment manufacturers, making it easier to get from one company meeting to another on a given day. Given the improvement in construction and quarrying equipment sales in Europe over the last couple of years, plus the world’s largest industry showcase just a few months away, it should be a great few days in Northern Ireland. Rest assured, I’m looking forward to tasting one of my favourite dishes – the good old Ulster fry!