An Expert from DEVELON North America Discusses the 2024 State of the Industry

Sherman says that alternative power has the most potential for innovation moving into next year.

Jacob Sherman
Jacob Sherman
DEVELON North America

The Equipment Today team spoke with industry experts who examined the construction industry in 2023 and discussed what they expect in 2024 for the State of the Industry Report. In this Q&A, Jacob Sherman, product and dealer marketing manager, DEVELON North America, shares his insights on the industry.

What was the construction industry’s biggest challenge in 2023?

Supply and demand were the construction industry’s biggest challenge in 2023. But much of it seems to be a carryover from the pandemic. Many manufacturers have a positive outlook for 2024 and are optimistic about a strong year in construction equipment sales and demand.

Are changes in the workforce, including retirements, affecting your company?

Hiring and retaining equipment operators continues to be a construction-industry-wide issue. An aging workforce and fewer younger people pursuing careers in the industry have contributed to the growing labor shortage that has impacted many manufacturers, including DEVELON.

However, some older equipment operators are in no hurry to retire. They enjoy operating equipment and are skilled at it. We are encouraged by steps being taken throughout North America to provide new learning centers for individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in the trades.

Is your company still experiencing fallout from the pandemic, including supply chain issues or other problems?

Most of the pandemic-related supply chain issues are behind us. Our company prefers to characterize it as learning risk management rather than fallout. Since the pandemic, it’s been more prevalent to establish relationships with more than one vendor and supplier for parts and items related to the manufacturing industry. It’s been a learning experience for us, our dealers and our customers, as far as stocking parts to ensure that they’re readily available. We have two distribution centers to best serve our customers in North America; one is located at our corporate headquarters in the Atlanta area, and a second facility is near Seattle, Washington.

In what technological areas do you see the potential for the most innovation in 2024?

Alternative power sources seem to have the potential for the most innovation in 2024. Recognizing the global trend toward becoming carbon neutral, and considering the tremendous increase in the production of electric vehicles, manufacturers are designing and producing construction equipment with alternative power sources to meet the demand. These changes have reduced emissions distributed into the atmosphere and the reliance on aftertreatment devices in equipment. At DEVELON, we’re in the research and development phases of various alternative power sources.

What innovations or improvements do you anticipate in construction equipment in 2024?

Improvements in autonomous technology will impact construction equipment for the foreseeable future. Autonomy can enhance safety by reducing the need for operators on high-risk jobsites. This technology also allows for remote monitoring and control, offering real-time insights into equipment performance and enabling quick responses to any issues that may come up.

We demonstrated our company’s latest autonomous equipment during CONEXPO-CON/AGG (CONEXPO): a DEVELON crawler excavator and dozer. There was significant interest in the technology from visitors to our booth. We are still working to commercialize the technology shown at CONEXPO.

Tiltrotator accessories will continue to play a crucial role in heavy equipment in the construction industry in 2024. These versatile accessories enable hydraulic excavators and other machines to rotate and tilt their attachments, significantly enhancing the efficiency and versatility of heavy equipment.

Which construction sectors face the most hurdles in the move toward electrification? Alternative fuels? Automation?

Many contractors are still comfortable operating heavy construction equipment powered by tried-and-true diesel engines. Contractors are familiar with the long-standing, reliable energy source for their machines. Unless there is a disruption in the flow of diesel fuel in North America, contractors may be reluctant to try electric- or hydrogen-powered equipment, especially if it brings a bigger price tag.

How are the Industrial Internet of Things, software and connectivity affecting your company specifically and the industry as a whole?

At DEVELON, we’re leveraging our existing technologies to help customers on their jobsites. For instance, our heavy equipment is designed with advanced safety features such as proximity sensors (object detection), around-view monitor camera systems and blind spot monitoring. In addition, we have an industry-exclusive, standard Transparent Bucket for new wheel loaders to help operators “see through” the bucket to the area in front of the machine.

Do you expect the infrastructure bill to affect your business or your customers’ businesses? How, if you can explain further?

As a company, we’re optimistic that the infrastructure bill will help our dealers and our customers’ businesses and, in turn, come to us to replace or expand their construction equipment fleet.

What will be the biggest challenge in 2024 for the industry?

The biggest challenges in 2024 will continue to be finding skilled labor, inflation and material costs. However, DEVELON is keeping up with industry trends and issues to get ahead of these challenges and adjusting our strategies as needed going into the New Year.

Are there any other insights looking toward 2024 that you’d like to share?

2024 will be a significant year for DEVELON as we introduce our first compact track loader to the North American market. We showcased a DTL35 prototype during CONEXPO, and it was one of the busiest parts of our booth during the trade show.

Our dealers are eager to add another DEVELON product to their construction equipment offering. Customers are equally excited to get a chance to demo and operate our new DTL35. Follow us on social media for more information about this milestone product launch.