Opportunities at ConExpo-Con/Agg 2017

By |  March 8, 2017

conexpo-conagg2017-logoConExpo-Con/Agg 2017, which takes place March 7-11 in Las Vegas, will offer a record 143 education sessions across 10 tracks, including a new technology track that will provide attendees with the latest industry knowledge and best practices to improve their professional skills and company productivity.

“Education is a critical component of ConExpo-Con/Agg, and we encourage attendees to take advantage of the convenience of so many learning opportunities available,” says Rich Goldsbury, president of Bobcat Co. and Doosan who serves as ConExpo-Con/Agg 2017 chair. “They’ll be able to work smarter because of the knowledge they gain.”

The new technology track focuses on industry innovations and future growth opportunities in the technology field, including drones, autonomous machines, 3-D imaging, smartphone apps, gamification, big data and the internet of things.

Education tracks will offer the latest trends and best practices focused on aggregate; asphalt; concrete; cranes, rigging and aerial lifts; earthmoving and site development; equipment management and maintenance; management related to business best practices; management related to workforce development skills; and safety and regulation.

The technology track complements a new 75,000-plus-sq.-ft. Tech Experience pavilion showcasing the ideas and technologies that will transform construction in the future.

Showcase exhibit

One sight to see at the pavilion will be Project AME (Additive Manufactured Excavator). A conglomerate of trade associations, industry, government and academia have been collaborating on the world’s first operational 3-D printed excavator over the last couple of years. The project took a leap forward with the printing of a prototype that leveraged large-scale additive manufacturing technologies and further explores the feasibility of printing with metal alloys.

In Project AME, an excavator is being 3-D printed using various machines at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) to create and assemble three components: the cab, the boom and a heat exchanger. The excavator’s boom will be fabricated using a newly developed free-form additive manufacturing technique to print large-scale metal components.

According to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), 3-D printing an excavator for the first time has been a learning experience for both seasoned researchers and the next generation of engineers. A student engineering team from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) won a design competition and was on hand at the MDF to watch its cab design take shape on the big area additive manufacturing machine, using carbon fiber-reinforced acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic.

“The reaction of the UIUC team was like watching kids on Christmas morning,” says John Rozum, show director of IFPE, which is co-located with ConExpo-Con/Agg 2017. “They worked hundreds of hours on this project, and it was incredible to see them finally get to watch the printing process and see their design in full size.”

The excavator is a collaboration between AEM, the National Fluid Power Association, the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the National Science Foundation, AEM says. The project was supported by the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy – Advanced Manufacturing Office.

CCEFP academic partners – Georgia Tech, the University of Illinois, UIUC and the University of Minnesota – are leading the research activities for Project AME. A Georgia Tech research team is designing the additively manufactured steel boom, stick and bucket. A Minnesota research team is responsible for the aluminum-powder bed 3-D-printed oil cooler design. The ORNL is developing all processes required to 3-D print these excavator components.

“The project idea came about during a tour of ORNL in 2014, when members of the CCEFP saw the 3-D printed car,” says Eric Lanke, CEO of NFPA. “Discussions ensued about what could make a similar splash for the fluid power and mobile equipment industry. Like many brainstorming sessions, one thing led to another and it was decided that a working excavator was a natural fit.”

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