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Inside Construction – highlights of the show

Last month saw the inaugural Inside Construction Expo kick off in Melbourne, bringing together businesses and professionals from across the construction industry. Alongside a conference program tackling the key issues facing construction, a wide variety of exhibitors put their latest machinery and technology on show.

Here we take a look at some of the highlights of the exhibition floor.

Machine Control Australia

One of the first things that stood out at the exhibition was Starbuck Excavation’s bright pink Kobelco, which was part of the Machine Control Australia stand.

As a distributor of machine control and site mapping technology, Machine Control Australia was showcasing two particular software systems – Makin 3D and Hemisphere.

Managing director Rhys Millington says that the Hemisphere system is entry-level software for contractors looking to get into GPS, providing a 2D visualisation of a site to improve accuracy.

However, Machine Control Australia’s newest offering – Makin 3D – takes this to the next level with 3D visualisation and Cloud-based data management.

“The surveyor does a survey and the operators load up the project in the cab, where they can look at different levels of detail,” Millington says.

“The layer management means the operator can look at vertical deviation and avoidance zones for example – as much or as little detail as they want for the specific job on site. They can pan around the plan in 3D as well, and it’s useful for giving stakeholders a comprehensive view of what a site will look like.

“In Scandinavia, where Makin 3D has been offered for the past five years, surface logging is mandatory, so everything is tracked. This marks all layers – what was done so you can prove that the ground was compacted correctly, and export data for a specific time period.”

Aussie Buckets

Aussie Buckets was showcasing the robust build of its buckets

For Victoria-based manufacturer Aussie Buckets it was very much a ‘show don’t tell’ moment, with a 1.2-tonne rock bucket pride of place on the stand, showing just how robust its range of excavator and skid steer attachments are.

Aussie Buckets Oceania key accounts manager Michael Ingram pointed out that the bucket usually spends its time working 10 to 12 hours a day on the end of an excavator in a quarry near Ballarat. Yet, looking at its condition, the build is standing up to the pressure well.

“This moves about 500 tonnes of rock a week and it can absolutely chew through it,” Ingram says.

“This has been on the field for about six to eight months and the wear protection that you can see on it is still in pretty good condition. The teeth are just about needing to be changed.

“We decided to bring a used one to show that not only do we have a top-notch product, but – even after getting an absolute flogging for a few months – they’re still in really good condition.”

A key difference with Aussie Buckets, he explains, is that the focus is on custom-built solutions, not just with buckets but a wide variety of other attachments as well, including its popular rock breakers.

“We’ve sold about 600 of the rock breakers in the last 12 to 18 months,” he says.

“We had one fail and, when it was sent back to us, it turned out it wasn’t even ours! So, we fixed it anyway and gave it back to the customer, because that’s what we do.

“Our augurs have hit the market like a freight train. We released those about two months ago and they are going great. They’re versatile and popular, particularly on the smaller machines. The biggest application will probably be post holes for farming or for drilling footings for decks – things like that.

“We do all sorts of different attachments depending on what you need. If it goes on excavator, we can pretty much produce it.”


Brokk specialises in demolition robots, as well as small dumpers and hydrodemolition

Demolition equipment specialist Brokk had a recent addition to its portfolio on display – the Ergo Go hydrodemolition
system from Aquajet.

“This is a new distributorship opportunity for Brokk Australia,” sales representative for Queensland and NSW Malcolm Collins says.

“It’s a unique demolition piece of equipment using water power to demolish concrete. It’s for sensitive areas where you don’t want a jackhammer breaking concrete up. It might be on a bridge pylon, where you can use ultra high pressure water blasting to demolish the concrete without doing additional damage to surrounding infrastructure.”

Brokk also distributes Darda cutting attachments, Sherpa mini loaders, Twinca mini dumpers and Vacuworx lifting systems. On the stand was the E200 Sherpa, one of three walk-behind electric mini loaders offered in Australia.

“These are for internal usage predominantly, where you don’t want diesel fumes,” Collins says.

“Obviously if there are areas where you don’t want any noise, that is where the little Sherpa comes into its own.”

There was also an example of Brokk’s own demolition robot range on display, the ‘baby of the range’ Brokk 70, which weighs under 560kg. This is designed for tight access through doorways, where mechanised demolition has previously been impossible.

“There’s a full range from the little Brokk 70 up to the Brokk 900, so different-sized machines for different applications, from internal demolitions through to tunnelling and furnace rehabilitation,” Collins says.

“We want to keep people out of harm’s way of falling materials and you can operate these up to 300m away.”

Engcon Australia

Engcon’s EC206 tiltrotator

Engcon was on site with its EC206 tiltrotator, which is suitable for excavators in the four to six-tonne weight class. Offering complete rotation and a 45 degree tool or bucket tilt, Engcon says its tiltrotator range means fewer machine
movements and greater flexibility.

Country sales manager Paul Brown says that he is seeing significant growth in interest in tiltrotators in Australia – an attachment already widespread in Scandinavia. The EC-Oil automatic quick-hitch system connects the tiltrotator and hydraulic tools without the operator needing to leave the cab and there’s a variety of safety systems including electronic monitoring, a U-shaped locking wedge, a load holding valve and safety springs.

“Safety is the biggest thing really, and production time,” Brown says.

“With these, operators are spending more time in the cab, not outside of it changing attachments.”


FAE RCU-55 tracked mulcher carrier

A striking addition to the exhibition floor was the bright orange 55 horsepower (41kW) RCU-55 remote controlled track carrier from FAE, which can be controlled from up to 150m away.

FAE Australia Pacific managing director Alberto Rosso says that this is a new addition to Australia, alongside the larger RCU-75, which has 75hp (56kW).

“I see a big future for this machine in Australia, particularly for fire mitigation, because can be operated remotely,” Rosso says.

“So, even if the things get very hot, you’re not putting the operator at risk. Also, it can operate on slopes up to 55 degrees, so we’re getting a lot of interest. This is basically a forestry mulcher but downsized, and is fitted with a two-tonne hydraulic rear winch.”

Also on the stand was FAE’s BL1/SSL excavator mulcher with bite limiter technology, which can fit excavators between five and 10 tonnes, as well as the best-selling DML/SSL forestry mulcher for skid steers up to 75hp and STC/SSL stone crusher with fixed teeth for skid steers between 90 and 120hp. The STC/SSL can be used across a variety of applications, from stone crushing in the field, to road work to recycling.

“We had requests for a machine that could handle recycling on-site,” Rosso says.

“These bring together all of our experience in vegetation control and stone crushing.

“They’re very versatile and we are a premium brand, built in Italy.”


MOBA was showcasing its X-Sire machine control system

Mobile Automation Australia, or MOBA, located in the north Melbourne suburb of Epping, had its 2D and 3D machine control systems on display, with director Daniel Ramondetta explaining that MOBA stands apart in being factory-owned.

“We’re a European company, we’ve got 20 offices globally, so we manufacture the products from scratch. So we’ve got 2D/3D machine control, excavator payload systems, magnetic receivers, laser transmitters and GPS for surveying.”

As well as working the mining and agriculture industries, MOBA offers the X-Site excavator control system for construction and had a LiuGong mini excavator from Pacific Machinery on the stand to show the technology off.

“So on the boom we have a magnetic receiver, which can go on any size of machine,”  Ramondetta says.

“It’s made in Australia and it’s got a unique feature called tilt compensation which means the boom arm doesn’t need to be plum when taking a reading – it can be on any angle. That saves operators time because they don’t have to jump out of the cabin and take a reading.

“The X-Site Easy is a touchscreen 2D system which always knows the position of the bucket teeth, so it doesn’t matter if the machine is extended all the way out or all the way in, we’ll always know the height to a level. This is great for doing house foundations, side cuts, landscaping, etc.

“The X-Site Pro 3D solution, has the benefit of being able to load the model onto the machine. So it could be a subdivision that somebody surveyed and the system then knows where the bucket is in relation to that model. So, if we’re putting in channels or pipe work, or a road, the operator knows exactly where they are.”

Pacific Machinery

Pacific Machinery brought a LiuGong 9027E mini electric excavator

Distributing MOBA technology in Australia, but better known for its LiuGong machinery, Pacific Machinery had a mini electric excavator on site on its stand – the new LiuGong 9027E.

Area manager Joe Noonan says it is popular with councils looking to go green in coming decades.

“They’re a bit more expensive than a normal excavator, but you don’t have the running costs, so you save about 70 per cent on running costs and about 50 per cent on maintenance costs,” he says.

“They’re quiet and very impressive. All of our gear has a four year/6,000 hour warranty for the machine, no exclusions apart from wear parts.”

LiuGong has also produced an electric wheel loader, which is being shown at field days before being launched to the market, as well as a set of electric scissor lifts. Noonan says this is just the beginning.

“They’re going to expand the range of electric machines into rollers, loaders, graders and access gear. They’re doing a fair range,” he adds.

Porter Plant

Porter Plant has big expansion plans in the works

Porter Plant manager Mark Hall says they were looking to do something a bit different at Inside Construction, and brought along a backhoe and ute from the company’s range of machinery and trucks for hire.

With sites in Adelaide, Melbourne, Hobart and rural Victoria, Hall says Porter Plant is actively growing its reach.

“We’re looking to expand through acquisition as well as organic growth – opening more depots around the country and just getting a bigger footprint across the country,” Hall says.

“We’re looking at NSW and Queensland, probably something in the south east of Melbourne as well as regional South Australia and heading up towards the Northern Territory. Our parent company Kanamoto have aggressive expansion plants for us. This is something we’re working on at the moment.”


XCMG XC968 electric wheel loader

XCMG had a huge presence at the expo, with a full suite of machinery on site, including an impressive new electric wheel loader – the XC968.

“It’s fully electric, with a change time of under an hour if you have a large enough power supply,” XCMG Melbourne owner David Kapahnke says of the 18.8-tonne machine.

“It’s designed for quarrying and material handling. Recycling yards are all indoors, so [using these machines means] less fumes and less dust. They’ve sold over 1,000 worldwide, so we can confidently say that we’ll get a full working day out of them. It runs for eight hours – you’re not pushing heavy for eight hours, but on and off you’ll get an eight-hour shift out of them.

“There’s two sizes in this, and then we’ve got the electric cranes and XCMG are developing their electric excavators at the moment, which are due next year.”

Also on the stand was a new roller – the 16–17.2-tonne XS165 with a 160hp Cummins engine and 2,130mm drum width.

“It’s got the new-design cab with a single screen on the front,” Kapahnke says.

“The electrics are all upgraded and it’s a new size for us. Everyone seems to be wanting to go a little bit bigger and get jobs done quicker.”


Kommand specialises in control systems for excavator and dozers

Also focused on machine control is Kommand, based in Wacol in Queensland, which works with companies such as Trimble and Topcon to provide a variety of machine control services.

Kommand has recently expanded its reach down into Victoria and offers brand-agnostic retrofitting of various systems onto machinery for the control of excavators and dozers, with plans for grader control due next year.

On the Kommand stand was a Unicontrol GNSS Rover, which is a 3D solution for surveying a site that has in-built tilt compensation. This feeds into 3D excavator control with the surveyed data connecting to the Rover to show offset lines and points for guidance.

Monash Smart Manufacturing Hub

Monash has developed a roller compaction monitoring system

It wasn’t just excavators that have entered the world of smart technology – Monash Smart Manufacturing Hub is currently working on creating a sensor system for rollers that can monitor the compaction of a road as the roller travels over the ground, highlighting points where further work is required in real time.

PhD student Amir Tophel explains that a GPS system and accelerometer are used to analyse compaction, with scope to include further sensors in the future.

“Currently, compaction of a road is tested at a few points – with this system it’s continuous and the display sits in the cab for the operator to read, so they know if they need to go back and compact an area further,” he says.

“Right now we are looking for businesses to partner with so we can test it out in the field.” 

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