From the Tech Experience to cutting-edge technologies on display in exhibitors’ booths throughout the Las Vegas Convention Center, revolutionary technology served as a focal point for CONEXPO.
“We just got here and the first place I wanted to go was the Tech Experience, because I’m interested in all the new technology,” said Samanthea Totten-Perry, a construction management consultant from Oregon who was attending her fifth show. “To see this, it’s pretty remarkable.”
The day started with the unveiling of Project AME, the world’s first 3D-printed excavator, which was produced in conjunction between the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP).
“Over the next several days, you will see that CONEXPO-CON/AGG will provide attendees access to the newest products from every major category, including asphalt, aggregates, concrete, earthmoving, lifting, mining and utilities,” said Rich Goldsbury, the 2017 show chairman and the President of Bobcat/Doosan North America and Oceana, at the Project AME unveiling.
Attendees throughout CONEXPO had a chance to witness some of that new technology by checking out equipment itself. But many exhibitors also employed virtual reality and simulator technology to showcase how technology integrates with their newest products.
Association of Equipment Manufacturers Director and Caterpillar Group President Rob Charter said during a press conference on Monday that CAT invests as much as $2 billion into research and development for the company’s products.
“We know that we are competing for this digital business,” he said. “Not just with our traditional competitors, but also with start-ups, global e-commerce companies, or the lone digital guru at home.”
Staying ahead of cutting-edge technology was an equally important priority for attendees on Day One. CONEXPO-CON/AGG, said a 34-year-old utility constructor named Adam from Alberta, Canada, was about “seeing what’s coming up – looking to the future in terms or product upgrades.”
A full day’s work of “Tech Talks” also featured discussions about the new technologies taking the industry by storm. Attendees caught a fashion show of sorts featuring various wearable technologies offered by manufacturers on Monday afternoon.
Karen Mallett and her boyfriend’s daughter, Brittany, also took in the Tech Experience and a preview of Wednesday morning’s Infrastructure Vision 2050 Challenge Finale Event. Both took a ride on the simulated hyperloop developed by a team from Carnegie Mellon University.
“It’s just really cool how it shows you moving and looking around,” Brittany said. “Is this what it’s going to be like?”
Both Karen and Brittany also took a special interested in the Smart Highways entry on display at the Infrastructure Vision portion of the Tech Experience. Panelists will judge a series of similar, crowdsourced solutions for future infrastructure issues during the finale event.
The biggest takeaway for attendees? Manufacturing and construction industries are emerging as leaders in technology. Anyone who thinks either industry is low-tech is “crazy,” said Totten-Perry. “Just look at all the technology. We have to stay ahead of the game on all of that.”