The time between one ARA Show and the next never seems very long, in fact it’s head-spinning how fast those events come around, and so are the leaps and bounds that product advancement is taking, especially in recent years. At this year’s show, which took place in Anaheim, CA, Feb. 17-20, there were a few fascinating trends that stood out.
As usual, the aerial manufacturers led the charge. Skyjack wins for most dynamic presentation with its demonstration of a scissor lift self-check being performed from across the globe and in the future (well, actually in Australia, where it’s a day ahead) using nothing but a cell phone. JLG, for its part, introduced its own remote-control feature with the introduction of its R Series scissor lifts equipped with Mobile Control. Using an app, stowed machines can now be moved around the jobsite using an iPhone. Both of these introductions aim to improve safety and efficiency on the jobsite by minimizing the presence of operators. They also beg the question of what equipment will look like in the future, in a time when machines might eliminate the need for people to be directly involved in any work at height.
Meanwhile, it seems everything is going electric, even heavy-duty earthmoving equipment. Electric compact excavators, for example, have been making the scene for a couple of years now from companies like Takeuchi and Kato. And Toro, introduced a prototype e-Dingo, an electric-powered version of its 323 gasoline-fueled Dingo, at this year's show. But it was very surprising to see an electric trencher, of all things, in the Ditch Witch booth. Only a concept model at the moment, the company claims its C12e achieves the same performance as its gas-powered counterpart. We look forward to seeing the production model when it becomes available.
Telematics continues to create news as more and more companies introduce programs to track equipment and simplify maintenance. To that end, Trackunit, a leading global innovator of telematics technology, has gone so far as to launch an industry-wide mission to eliminate downtime. The gutsy ambition of the movement is not only to recover the billions lost through budget and schedule overruns, but also to re-establish the reputation of the industry for innovation and leadership.
The 2019 ARA Show was definitely one centered on technological advancement. It’s encouraging to see not only what’s possible, but also to see leading suppliers finding ways to make the advancements more accessible to all through simplicity and ease of use. What a time to be alive!