Last week, I joined some 130,000 people in Las Vegas for the ConExpo-Con/Agg. It is an event that takes place once every three years. What is amazing about this show is the manufacturers, some 2,500, from all aspects of construction, actually bring the equipment and set it up. The result is an exhausting weeklong extravaganza. Imagine how much space a 650-ton Manitowoc crane takes up and multiply that by 1,000.
The 2014 show, the largest yet, took over every square foot of the Las Vegas Convention Center — some 2.5 million square feet. There were outdoor displays covering several city blocks and several exhibit halls filled with smaller booths. The show is so massive that the organizers, the Association of Equipment Manufacturing, created an app to help visitors navigate.
This is the place to showcase new equipment to a worldwide audience and this year was no exception. After the economic downturn dampened the 2011 event, there was much enthusiasm for this year's expo.
Caterpillar had several displays totaling 60,000 square feet. On the outdoor lot, curbing and fake grass made for a surreal “Cat World” leading visitors into a large sales center.
Terex brought 40 cranes and hoists to Vegas this year. It debuted its gigantic Superlift 3800 crawler crane which has a maximum lift capacity of 650 tons at 39 ft. and a maximum hook height of 623 ft.
Another giant crane was the Liebherr LR 11000, a crawler crane marketed to offshore windmill installation. It has a capacity of 230,300 lbs. and a 272-foot main boom. The tracks of this crane are so massive that a man standing in one appears to be the size of a child.
There were dancing excavator demos, and appearances by the cast of the Discovery Channel's “Gold Rush” TV series.
Interestingly, in my tour of the grounds, which I freely admit was not very organized or thorough since I did not download the navigation app...I only ran across two marine applications. Fort Wayne, Indiana-based PoseidonBarge was making its second appearance at ConExpo. Wilco Marsh Buggies was also there, the Harvey, La., company was handing out Mardi Gras beads.
With all the focus on offshore windmill erection and other energy market projects, I imagine that in 2017 we will see far more marine equipment at the show. That will be something...crane barges in the desert.