Construction machines are getting smarter and smarter

In the “bauma Industry Barometer,” responding companies turn out to be fairly humble: Only 4 percent of them consider themselves to be a digitalization leader. But when you consider the number and the variety of trade fair innovations in this area, you realize that digital solutions will certainly be a central theme for the machinery, vehicles, equipment and services that will be showcased in Munich.

By Helmuth Ziegler

One thing jumps out at you when you talk with exhibitors at this year’s upcoming bauma: Just about every company is searching for ways to weigh the opportunities that digitalization will create for it and its products. The manner in which these opportunities will be interpreted and seized is extremely different.

New or improved solutions in telematics as well as fleet and machine management extend across a wide area. They run through various product groups like a thread – from cut-off saws and chain saws (Stihl) and height-access technology (Terex AWP) to tipper trailers (Schmitz-Cargobull) and compactors (Amman).

© Stihl zoom © Stihl | The smart connector produced by Stihl is a sensor that has a diameter of less than 5 centimeters that can be mounted on equipment like cut-off saws. It records operating hours and transmits them via the smartphone or tablet to a cloud with central data storage.

App facilitates machine leasing
Some manufacturers use the ever-present smartphone as the basis of their new products. The new app klickcheck developed by Zeppelin Lab GmbH is designed for leasing companies in the building industry. It provides an easy way to collect all documents that are needed for equipment handover and store them in the cloud. The machines are identified through a QR code and examined using individual checklists on the smartphone. Users and lessors can digitally document damage and defects in pictures and texts.

Sophisticated planning programs have been mainstays in formwork technology for years now. The Doka company takes things a step farther. At the world’s largest trade fair, it will showcase a digital system that will help surveyors and construction crews quickly and precisely set up a wall formwork for self-climbing systems. The key is measuring sensors that are affixed to defined points on the formwork and communicate wirelessly with a central processing unit. Doka has been nominated for the bauma Innovation Award 2019 in the Digital Systems category for this solution.

© ITK Engineering zoom © ITK Engineering | The 3D terrain mapping system made by ITK Engineering recognizes individuals and objects on rough terrain and warns the driver about potential dangers.

Intelligent systems assist drivers
Sensors are being designed to make machines smarter, too. Liebherr-International AG will present a package of intelligent assistant systems for its large wheel loaders. This will include an active person-recognition system in the back. The system uses sensors to independently differentiate between people and static objects. When people are detected in the hazard zone, the system sends out a warning at greater distance than it does for walls or pillars.

The 3D terrain mapping app made by the software and system developer ITK Engineering is manufacturer independent. The intelligent, camera-based assistant system recognizes individuals and objects on rough terrain and warns the driver about potential dangers.

Automated functions do not just increase safety on construction sites. They also prevent drivers from becoming tired and help relatively inexperienced users be more productive. In this regard, Case will present its new compact wheel-loader models with electrohydraulic control. With more than 20 sensors and 20 electrohydraulic drives, the system alerts drivers about errors and optimizes machine function to save fuel. The machines increase productivity and energy efficiency in a process that drives down overall operating costs.

The examples described here are just a small sample of the digital innovations that will be presented at bauma. If you want to experience them first-hand, you should travel to the trade fair grounds in Munich between April 8 and 14.

Helmuth Ziegler is a freelance journalist in Veitshöchheim near Würzburg.

Photo material: © Stihl | © ITK Engineering

bauma 2019 | On the way to the Smart Construction Site

 

The progressive digitalization on construction sites is causing a structural change – on a small as well as on a large scale.