World of Concrete kicks up the dust

Published 2/3, 2017 at 13:27

In Las Vegas, fortunes can change with the flip of a card, a roll of the dice, or the choice of video slot machine to while away a few hours and likely a few $20 bills. One never knows when, or even if, it will happen, which after all, is all part of the city’s allure.

But there are certainties in life. And for US contractors, it’s the scheduled late June deadline for compliance with the new silica dust exposure rules, aimed at making workplaces healthier and, perhaps, keeping those experienced and, increasingly, coveted workers on the job for a few years longer.

And while dust-control technology has been a staple at the city’s annual World of Concrete show over the past several years, the 2017 edition might well have been themed, “all dust, all the time.”

That should hardly be surprising, given the industry make-up of World of Concrete’s target audience. But having an unofficial theme, at least among many of the exhibitors, may have also helped the show escape the shadow of its big brother Conexpo-Conagg, set to occupy the expanses of the Las Vegas Convention Center less than two months later.

WOC’s visitor numbers and exhibitors were down 15% and 5% from 2016 to 50,770 and 1,455 respectively, which is not unusual for a Conexpo year. But while Conexpo may offer the masses, WOC might well have provided contractors the intimacy to ask manufacturers some questions, especially those who may have waited until the last minute to make their equipment inventory silica ready.

It was at WOC that many visitors first learned of Husqvarna’s acquisition of its Swedish vacuum and slurry counterpart, Pullman-Ermator. One Husqvarna product representative commented that the exhibitor had to scramble to have enough red Pullman-Ermator units properly decked out in Husqvarna orange for the show. There was no word as to how the acquisition might affect the company’s Tampa based US operations, or if it might fast forward the development of new dust control products.

Hilti’s mammoth WOC display featured the first of what new North America chief executive Avi Kahn promised are 75 new products to be rolled out in 2017. Among them is the DD250 rig based diamond coring tool with a drilling range of 12.7mm to 457mm, and four gears for faster drilling speed at the right torque. Rotating speeds range from 240revs/min to 2,220revs/min.

Hilti also displayed a self-priming pump attachment for its DSH 700 and 900 saws that will simplify water sourcing for wet cutting. Testing is expected to be completed shortly prior to anticipated release in June, along with other dust management products. 

Also prominent at the Hilti booth was a new line of 22V cordless tools, powered by batteries that the company promises provide 20% more work per charge than its 18V units, and are compatible with the company’s older tools.

Dustcontrol and better power were also the top topics of conversation at Bosch’s booth, with several universal vacuum attachments designed to easily connect the company’s breakers, drills, and grinders. Bosch’s Core 18V batteries also attracted a lot of attention, as the 10-cell units promise to deliver 80% more power than the company’s previous generation batteries, yet with only a minimal size increase that does not affect their use on Bosch cordless tools.

Dewalt visitors could try the D25303DH dust extraction system designed for the Brushless 20V DCH273P2 25mm rotary hammer. The system features a 2s power-off delay ensuring that dust extraction continues after the drill is switched off, a clear high-capacity dust box, replaceable dust nozzle, replaceable HEPA filter, and a quick release for easy attachment and dismantling.

There were many other dust-control solutions across the exhibition halls, along with machines to help generate all that material. Superabrasive introduced the new Lavina-X series of dust extractors that includes propane and electric models in several sizes to pair with any Lavina or other grinders on the market.

The line includes the 14.2kW V32G-X propane model, which will be followed by a smaller counterpart later this year, and several electric models ranging from 2.4kW to 7.5kW.

The vacuums complimented two new Lavina propane grinders, the 814mm unit, and larger L38GR-X, a 965mm remotely controlled machine.

At the combined Blastrac/Diamatic booth, visitors were greeted with Blastrac’s new BDC 122 110V large bag dust collector with an H-class HEPA filter, and several revamped Diamatic propane grinders with Briggs and Stratton engines. Among them were the 26kW, 711mm BMG 735P, and the BG 300 edger with a pivoting head that hugs walls closer and more consistently than before.

While many of the start-up grinder/polisher companies that appeared at the outset of the surface preparation boom have fallen by the wayside, Phoenix, Arizona based Prep Tech Systems is still flexing its muscles with its new Iron Horse PRO line of grinders that owner Scott Mourtisen says is the highest on-pressure tool in the world.

The planetary driven PT ONE 635mm grinder on display boasts 317kg of pressure in its operating configuration, and a nine-position adjustable weight system designed for varying tool pressure requirements. “This line is designed for long-term jobs, where contractors are working weeks at a time,” said Mourtisen, who developed the products based on his own experience as a surface preparation professional. 

Among other new products was the Atlas Copco Cobra PROi gas breaker, the first with a custom electronic fuel injection system that uses up to 2.75bar less than standard systems. Weighing just 24kg, the PROi has a 2-stroke, 90cc engine delivering up to 60J of breaking force.

In addition to its dust extraction products, Dewalt rolled out 15 new grinders and nine new rotary and demolition hammers, headlined by the SDS 60V MAX* 40mm combination hammer.

For high-rise work, contractors will want to keep an eye out for Skyjack’s 78kW 1256TH telehandler, which will be in production later this spring. A prototype on display was said to have the capacity to lift 5,443kg to 10.6m and 3,175kg to 16.7m.

Also on the watch list is Lackmond Products of Marietta, Georgia, which has formed a new partnership with a manufacturer in the Netherlands to create a line of handheld core drills for grinding and polishing. The company promises the new products should be arriving on the North American market soon.

However, contractors do not have to wait for is Skilsaw’s new Medusaw worm-drive concrete saw that features a Cut-Ready adjustable plunge lock that allows users to quickly and accurately set and make consistent plunge cuts. “With Medusaw we built features into the tool so you don’t need a second person to hold a vacuum or water hose to collect the dust,” said Skilsaw product manager Gregg Mangialardi.

For bigger cutting jobs, Merit debuted the AWD-65HP-G, the first steerable all-wheel drive saw, with an innovative patent-pending design that provides superior control and ease of operation when cutting uphill, downhill, sideways on a grade, and radii. Merit also showed a new line of spark-ignited gas flat saws, ranging in power from 10.4kW to 65kW.

Time at WOC was time well spent, even if the travel budget may get squeezed with another trip to Las Vegas in just a few months. But concrete contractors who want to be in the know and up to date with their equipment needs will find the investment well worth it. 

And they will be wise to circle the week of 22 January 2018, on their calendars, as that is when WOC will return. According to the show’s organizers, 73% of 2017’s exhibitors have already booked space at the show, which will have the start of the construction exhibition season all to itself.

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