Rock Products Presents the 2018 Quarry and Aggregates (Q&A) Forum: Industry Thought Leaders Open Up On Where We Are Going and How We Will Get There.
By Mark S. Kuhar and Josephine Patterson
David Ciszczon, director of
John Garrison, vice president of sales,
|Jeff Gray, vice president of sales and marketing, Telsmith Inc.|
|Mark Krause, managing director – North America, McLanahan Corp.|
|Alex Kanaris, president, Van der Graaf (VDG).|
|Matthew Lepp, heavy industry drive specialist, Van der Graaf (VDG).|
|Jeff Lininger, North America Sales Director – West, KPI-JCI and Astec Mobile Screens|
|Stephen Roy, president, Volvo CE Americas.|
|Minoo Mehta, president, BKT.|
1. So how’s business? What is your take on the national economy and also on the construction economy? Is business better today than last year? Are steel tariffs impacting you? Which international markets are hot for you? What do you think of the new U.S.-Canada-Mexico trade deal?
MARK KRAUSE: The U.S. economy remains vibrant and could even be stronger if not for a shortage of qualified labor. For us, our business cycle has remained strong for the last 18 months and our forecast is that it will remain at this strong level for the next 12 months or so. We have been able to absorb the tariffs on Chinese goods (we build almost all of our products in the United States), but the new trade agreement did not remove the steel tariffs and so future costs will be affected. For our agriculture business it might provide a bit of improvement of access the Canadian market but even that is not a dramatic change.
MATTHEW LEPP: So far 2018 has been a good year with steady growth throughout. We would attribute this to the overall growth of the American economy and consumer confidence in it. With current infrastructure spending, we have seen growth this year over last. The new tariffs on steel are having an effect, although minimal and we are working diligently to minimize any effect to our customers.
JEFF GRAY: We are seeing steady business with expectations for a strong fourth quarter. Tariff costs are being itemized on parts and products affected and passed along to end-users. We believe the trade deal will have positive effects on our business in Canada and Mexico.
JEFF LININGER: Business is exceptional right now. We have a very confident and optimistic outlook for the national economy in the next 24 months. Many of our markets are experiencing strong workloads, enough to keep them very busy for the next year. KPI-JCI and Astec Mobile Screens are also experiencing backlogged projects, as our dealers and customers continue to have strong business climates and an abundance of work.
After last year’s steady growth, and the challenges that accompanied it, we are much more prepared to handle the larger workload. We have successfully worked through tasks like making requested delivery dates, maintaining the highest levels of quality and filling open positions, as well as training the new employees. We are continuing to improve as a company and we are adjusting to the new, enhanced business climate.
Along with internal challenges stemmed from growth, external challenges, like the newly-implemented steel tariffs, have been another challenge for the group. Along with almost every other manufacturer, we are working hard to mitigate the impact the tariffs have on our customers. With Astec’s buying power and our strong relationship with our suppliers, KPI-JCI and Astec Mobile Screens are at an advantage, minimizing the effect on our customers.
ALEX KANARIS: Since the last presidential election, VDG has experienced an up-tick in our drum motor sales. However, the sales of our drum motors for the aggregate and construction industry have not seen the same increase when compared to other industries. The international market we will focus in the future will be South America. In regard to the NAFTA matter, we have not yet seen an economical production impact due to the imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum as a result of the U.S.-Canada-Mexico trade agreement.
JOHN GARRISON: We began to see demand pick up early in 2017 and now, we’re having a record sales year in all sectors of our business. We’ve seen significant increases in demand for capital equipment, plant upgrades and even turnkey plants. This is a good indication from producers for long-term growth.
While the overall market has been doing very well, we certainly pockets where it’s booming even more. Frac sand production – for instance – is very strong. In addition, there are states doing a good job supporting infrastructure projects, even without valuable funding needed from our federal government.
Tariffs have added a wrinkle and affected some optimism, but these tariffs don’t pick and choose. They’re affecting all manufacturers. As to the new trade deal, it appears it will have more of an impact on automotive and agricultural industries than our own.
MINOO MEHTA: Business of BKT OTR tires larger than 24 in. has been very good this year. Since we started concentrating on this segment, three years ago, we have built our range up to 49-in. size, with different patterns and compounds for various applications. The tires on wheels are creating lot of repeat demand as customers see the tires performing, in terms of cost per hour. We expect to finish strong this year with high double-digit growth.
The national economy is certainly doing well and the unemployment rate at 3.7 percent is the lowest. However, there is acute shortage of qualified labor and truck drivers, which has escalated costs. The trade wars haven’t helped business because the tariffs have raised the input costs. Hurricanes, even though never a good experience, will also generate rebuilding business, giving construction a boost.
Steel tariffs have impacted OE business. Vehicles have become more expensive to produce, which have slowed the market. However, local steel mills are doing quite well and have started making money, thereby buying more tires.
BKT exports to more than 160 countries. We are experiencing more growth compared to previous years is in United States, Australia and most of the European Union. The results are yet to be seen. We may see help in farm sector the most. Looking after American interest first is new trend and will have some positive and some negative trends and impacts.
CISZCZON: Polydeck’s overall business continues to grow on a year-on-year basis due to our focus on customer needs. In my opinion, the national economy is the strongest in recent memory. It also seems consumer confidence is very high at this time. Commercial construction seems to be slightly down in recent months. The good news according to the USGS, crushed stone production is up 3 percent and sand and gravel is up 7 percent in the first six months of 2018 over 2017.
No question steel tariffs are impacting our business and raising the cost of doing business. Based on what I have read, the new version of the NAFTA trade agreement should bring more jobs to the United States and Canada, which should also help the aggregate industry in general.
STEPHEN ROY: The outlook for the North American economy is quite healthy. We’ve seen an increase in demand in the construction industry despite the imposed tariffs. Volvo CE’s efforts to improve efficiency across the supply chain and our investments in innovation and new technologies to modernize the construction industry have been bearing good fruit: our global net sales went up 24 percent in this third quarter, with North America growing 29 percent. We think that having a strong trade agreement between North American countries is important.
2. How is your business doing specifically in the aggregates industry? Are producers actively investing in new equipment this year, or planning for future capital improvements? What problems are you solving for aggregates producers?
GRAY: There is good confidence in the aggregate industries. High volume facilities are at or near full production and investment in new equipment and systems is up. We solve uptime and availability problems with older equipment and design in inventory control ability into new plants.
LEPP: Our aggregates sector continues to show steady growth. Greater confidence in the economy has caused a push for new equipment and capital projects that has been lacking in past years. Growing acceptance of drum motor technology in the industry is also helping continue this upward trend.
LININGER: The aggregate market has been particularly strong for us. We have seen growth in component purchases as well as new, complete portable and stationary plants. I believe the new business climate has given producers the confidence to invest in an entire system, rather than just replacing one component of their current system. I spoke with a customer recently who was buying his fifth Kodiak cone crusher from Johnson Crushers International. He was focused on setting up his company to be successful, not just in the good times we are experiencing right now, but investing in new technology and better, more efficient equipment to give them an advantage when the next inevitable downturn affects his business.
There are many aspects of the purchasing decision we help customers work though. The most common aspect, and most important, is safety. This focus on providing a safe environment and safe equipment for end users coincides with our company safety philosophy. Being able to bring a customer to one of our factories and show them the safe work environment that we maintain, as well as the safety components we implement on our equipment is priceless.
Another aspect we address with many customers is diesel emissions. While the group doesn’t manufacture engines, we utilize them in many of our products including self-contained units, track-mounted plants and others. In an effort to limit the emissions from engines, we introduced a hybrid technology in 2017. Since its launch, the hybrid technology has gained in popularity. Our hybrid track plants are dual power, allowing them to track around the site using the attached diesel engine, then switching to line power or a genset to run using electricity while operating.
KRAUSE: Aggregate equipment demand has remained strong for the last 12 to 18 months, though they have been hidden by the frac sand bubble. Now that frac sand is slowing down to a normal pace it may seem like aggregate is up while it has actually remained at a strong pace. As always it is not strong everywhere but in areas that are seeing strong growth like Austin, Denver and Nashville, business levels would expect to be up. With the demand being more housing and commercial work rather than highway work, the very strong ready mix demand is driving the increases. We have seen earlier purchases getting ready for 2019, which shows an understanding that the industry is busy and so they must plan earlier. Also they need to be ready to produce earlier in 2019 to be ready for early season work.
GARRISON: We have been very active this year with aggregate customers. It’s been a record for us. I’d say that the rate of investment from producers has been stronger than the growth of production rates on crushed stone. We believe this is largely coming from pent up demand on new equipment that was needed and a stronger economy. We are always working on innovative new products to solve issues with downtime and maintenance costs. We’ve released a number of new washing and bulk material handling products this year. For instance, our Alliance Low Water Washer allows owners and operators to wash crusher dust at the site versus handling and hauling it to a wash plant. It accepts a dry feed and uses significantly less water than a sand screw. As part of our product development process, we use a lot of customer feedback to find ways to reduce their cost per ton.
MEHTA: The aggregate industry is doing well. We see finding qualified equipment operators and drivers is common woe with the producers. It appears young millennials are shying away from the kind of jobs where one gets their ‘hands dirty.’
BKT continues to be innovative in tire development constantly looking for better cost per hour. By giving value driven tires at workable prices, this gives us a huge edge in terms of cost/hour, even though we truly believe that cost/hour is not a good parameter to judge tires as performance of a tire is dependent on many other factors. Given the same operating conditions, BKT tires are performing better.
Yes, people are purchasing new equipment to accommodate growth in their market place. If they need to invest in new equipment, they are buying new equipment. But, they are also very cautious in spending money. The overheads in this industry are high and a sharp eye helps improve the tight bottom line.
As tire manufacturers, we supply tires and we need our tires to give the best results. We have developed SpoTech technology whereby we fix our equipment on their trucks, survey the entire usage of tires and give our money saving recommendations, which has been highly applauded by the quarry owners. Depending on the size of the quarries and the company, the savings are in thousands.
CISZCZON: Polydeck is doing very well in the aggregate industry as we continue to grow on a year-on-year basis. I think producers have actively invested in new equipment this year but not to the investment level I thought they would based on the recent tax cuts. Until we get a new infrastructure bill passed, I think there will continue to be increased equipment investment based on a conservative growth curve.
Polydeck’s focus is giving producers the best screening media value on a cost per ton basis. We strive to continuously innovate new products that meet the needs of aggregate producers.
ROY: Business is quite good for Volvo CE in North America. The Quarry and Mining segment is up about 15 percent in the region, as many producers are looking to update their old fleets to save high maintenance and operational costs of old machines. Volvo CE has been investing in research on innovative technologies to create products that will solve some of the typical inefficiencies of the aggregates industry, such as high machine fuel consumption, high idle time, poor bucket filling and high total cost of operation. Our engineers are testing modern prototypes developed to address these issues – the projects include an autonomous, battery electric load carrier and a hybrid wheel loader. Currently Volvo’s fully electric quarry concept is undergoing 10 weeks of real life testing at a Skanska quarry in Sweden. These investments aim to meet customers’ demands, as they are constantly striving to minimize operating costs and maximize uptime and productivity. We are tackling the needs of the industry and society together. We see this research as creating a competitive advantage for Volvo CE in the aggregate industry.
KANARIS: Even though we have not seen substantial increase in sales in the aggregate industry over the past few years, we are investing in new technologies and production equipment in order to meet future demands that we believe is forthcoming. Aggregate producers do invest in capital equipment; however, the investments are made primarily in equipment that adapt older technology. Our strategic approach is to invest in research and manufacturing of high efficiency equipment that can produce higher output while is using less energy, eliminating the need of maintenance, and provide operator safety.
3. President Trump promised $1 trillion in infrastructure funding, but so far that has not materialized. How confident are you that we will see a solid plan in the coming year? What do you base your answer on?
CISZCZON: I can’t say I am confident, but I am cautiously optimistic that it can happen in 2019. The administration has previously committed to $200 billion infrastructure spending for the $1 trillion target. I am hard pressed to see the private sector contributing $800 billion to the $1 trillion target so I think the federal government will have to contribute significantly more to get a bill passed. That said, infrastructure spending is one area where the administration should be able to find some common ground with the opposition party.
GRAY: I am optimistic. The strength of our economy should help the effort.
LEPP: We are confident that the current administration will push through this funding, as it has a number of other important issues since the election. Sustained growth of the economy will increase demands on infrastructure across the country, and further growth – or even maintaining the current level – cannot be done with current infrastructure.
KANARIS: VDG is in the camp of the more optimistic investors. Even though 1 trillion in infrastructure funding has not materialized yet, we believe the country cannot postpone much longer the urgent need of addressing the infrastructure repair and improvements on roads, bridges, ports, airports, etc. We believe it is a matter of time before these issues will be addressed and capital investments will be made by federal and state governments.
LININGER: Having lived and worked in Washington, D.C., in the past, I realize that it can be challenging to get motions approved, regardless of how important it can be to our nation. I will say, it will not happen without a concerted industry-wide focus and effort. Campaigns like the “Don’t Let America Dead End” effort, which help press Congress to pass a long term Highway Trust Fund package, are critical in educating our representatives of the importance of our national infrastructure and the impact, both positive and negative, it can have on our economy and our nation.
KRAUSE: I was pretty sure that we were not going to see any type of bill until at least 2020. There seems like too many other “priorities” that infrastructure would not get the attention. After visiting Capitol Hill as part of the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association’s Fall Meeting, my feelings were strengthened that nothing will happen. The one comment that has stuck with me was that “we only work on last-minute deadlines and since infrastructure is funded for the next two years, nothing will happen until 2020.” Happily we have seen states take infrastructure into their own hands and have raised some funds from actions like raising gas taxes. This has helped to raise the optimism and business levels, but not everywhere.
GARRISON: Since it’s an election year, we did not expect to see anything. We recently spent a week on Capitol Hill talking with Congressmen about federal funding for roads and bridges. The feedback was a resounding “not this year.” There was agreement from both sides that we need to get proper funding and repair our infrastructure. The issue is really the divide in Washington and agreeing on how to pay for it. However, we did some optimism going into 2019.
ROY: There is no doubt that major investment in infrastructure has the power to drive America’s economy and job creation while making the country more competitive. The plan proposed by the president presents important initiatives and is a great first step. We hope that the Congress, on a bipartisan basis, finds effective ways of financing infrastructure investment, so we can see benefits hitting the industry in 2019 and long into the future.
MEHTA: We believe President Trump will get the funding for infrastructure improvements based solely on the need. This country, no matter what people may think of Trump, realizes we must protect our citizens with safe and viable road systems. Infrastructure is in terrible shape and does need spending, but when Congress gets involved, the final outcome turns out to be non-beneficial to our society due to great divide. Somehow, it seems the party interests override what is in the interest of our country.
The action on infrastructure is long overdue and the roads and bridges we are driving on were not built to handle the traffic we have today. The answer is in all the studies that are available online or otherwise. Our job involves lot of travel and meeting people across the country. These are the sentiments of the people we have met and conditions we have seen.
4. A popular new book, and many national and international media reports, decry the dwindling supply of sand available to the construction market. Do you buy that? Do you have products or services designed to address a potential sand shortage?
GARRISON: Much of the buzz around that comes from places like Dubai and China that have done extreme building. There are plenty of videos to watch about this, but none really discuss manufactured sand. Manufactured sand has been fairly strong in the United States for a while. We recognize this because of a rise vertical shaft impactor (VSI) sales the last several years. As a result, we have built a full line of VSI crushers and washing equipment to support the needs for manufactured sand production.
LININGER: The dwindling supply of sand has been a topic that many of our factories, particularly JCI and Astec Mobile Screens, have been focusing on for the better part of a decade. Personally, I view the shortage as more of a regional issue, since some areas seem to have to focus on manufactured sand more than others. In order to be successful, it takes much more than equipment; operational and application expertise is necessary for ensuring a customer’s success. Through our R&D departments, we have developed screens, like the Combo and Multi-frequency screens, that can help our customers successfully make manufactured sand.
CISZCZON: My understanding is that there is a severe shortage of sand worldwide. I don’t believe it to be the case in the United States though agree there might be shortages in certain geographical areas.
ROY: We observe that sand, especially frac sand, is in high demand, which one might expect to drive prices upward. However, changes in hydraulic fracturing technology have made the local brown sands in West Texas sufficient for the wells in the Permian Basin (the sedimentary basin located in western Texas and southeastern New Mexico). It’s easier to mine from there and it does not require being shipped across the country, as with the white sands of the upper Midwest. More than 20 mines opened this year in West Texas. Because of improved technology and logistics, costs are also much lower than few years ago. The industrial minerals segment is very important to Volvo CE, and we are very closely aligned to it with our product portfolio and through key long-term relationships with stakeholders.
KRAUSE: We have not seen any shortage of sand, but what we have seen is a ramp up of sand production with many sites adding to existing production as well as many new plants being erected on existing sites. While the reports of demand for classic sand processing equipment, tanks and screws, declining has not proven true, we are seeing an increase in the popularity of sand plants with dewatering screens and cyclones which produce higher yields and drier product which can be sold.
5. Have you noticed changes over the past year in the way aggregates producers evaluate equipment and consider it for purchase? Are buying decisions made more on the corporate side or more on the production side? Is used equipment getting a closer look right now? Are you evaluating your online presence to enhance sales?
LININGER: Buying demographics have changed some over the last year. Privately held companies were more consistent in buying during the recession, and they started buying across the board more consistently coming out of the recession. Larger, publically held companies were a little slower to start buying consistently again. We are in a business climate now where both are buying equipment and buying it often. Regardless of the size of the company, most are in a position now where one can take advantage of the advancements in equipment safety, efficiency and production capabilities. Purchasing decisions that had, in some cases, been pulled away from the local divisions and back to corporate, now seem to be back at the local level. I think this is good for the industry, as it puts more of an emphasis on buying the right piece of equipment, focusing on local parts and service support, local manufacturing and the relationship with local dealers who, ultimately, can have a large impact on the success of what customers have purchased.
With lead times stretching out across the equipment industry as a whole, I don’t see as much of a price difference between new and well-kept, used equipment as we did just a few years ago. Twenty years ago, one would advertise used equipment in a local publication that may have had a distribution of 35,000 copies throughout the market. Today, when one advertises online to the same market, it is also seen around the country and around the world. I think this is particularly true with manufacturers whose customers believe they make quality equipment. The customer knows the reputation of the brand, the kind of quality they can expect, and they are willing to buy equipment based on that.
GARRISON: Many corporate purchasing teams are a part of the process, but producers often have a team of engineering or process related people that help make the equipment recommendations. I’d say that there is certainly more technical and applications review work done to make decisions versus just the best price. Used equipment was popular when the market was down. It was actually hard to find decent used gear. But many producers are looking at new equipment and plants with the stronger market.
We evaluate our web presence monthly. With a healthy market and extreme product growth at Superior, visits to our web channels have also boomed! It’s fun to watch. We’re planning to launch a series of new web-related materials before ConExpo-Con/Agg 2020.
CISZCZON: I have found that the final buying decisions are still being made on the corporate side for capital expenditures but the production side has a significant say in the final decision. We are always evaluating and updating our online presence as that will continue to be an important buying factor more and more as time goes on.
MEHTA: It is a straight case of Return On Investment. If the production goes up and demand of new equipment can be met with cash flow with ROI, there is little hesitation to buy new equipment. If the cash flow is tight, leasing may be another option. Our experience indicate that both play integral part in decision making, with their valued inputs.
Yes, of course, used equipment is getting a closer look. If it makes business sense and meets their requirement, they do. Yes, we do have a big online presence to promote the brand and hence indirect sales.
ROY: We have observed that the demand for used equipment has been growing in recent years, as a strategy to lower total cost of ownership. To address this demand, we have created a program – Volvo Certified Used – to ensure that the used machines have been thoroughly inspected to a uniform standard by our dealers, eliminating the “guess work” for potential customers. We’ve opened the first Volvo Certified Used center facility in Las Vegas and are partnering with other dealers to open more in the future.
The latest purchase trends show us that brick-and-mortar business are no longer enough for our aggregates customers. They are increasingly looking for replacement parts on the Internet, aiming for cost and time-savings, and for online information on machines and parts. We’ve been working with our dealers on strengthening our services on the web to help our customers with purchasing, servicing and maintaining their equipment while providing a superior experience.
KRAUSE: We have quietly seen a real change in the buying demographics in many areas of our industry. I call this our Amazon effect. Buyers are waiting longer to make their purchase, want to do more of the research themselves, expect quick deliveries, and may settle for a different brand if they can’t get it from their first choice. Rather than worrying about how the product might perform 15 to 20 years down the road, a five-year view is really long term. Part of this might also be due to needing to show quicker cost savings to acquire the capital from a corporate office. Buying decisions are definitely on a local level since the plant or area manager are ultimately responsible for their P&L and so must have the option to pick what they want.
LEPP: Producers are continuing to move away from short-term fixes and are now focusing more on long-term solutions. Coupled with the growing acceptance of our technology, producers are appreciating the long-term benefits a drum motor provides over conventional drive systems.
KANARIS: The methods of equipment purchase of the aggregate producers have not changed much. The demands on equipment performance are increasing by the producers but most of the times the price is the deciding factor. The conveyor drives VDG manufactures are of a much higher quality and efficiency compare to standard conveyor drives, and therefore a little costlier, not by much, but more costly nevertheless. The implementation of equipment type is primarily decided at the corporate level. In some cases, by the conveyor equipment manufacturer. We are not familiar with the used equipment market and cannot offer a reasonable opinion. We are however investing in online advertising in conjunction with print and trade shows to enhance our sales.
GRAY: Certainly our online presence is important in doing business today. We launched a new website this year and have dramatically increased our social media presence. These are key tools used by today’s decision makers to educate themselves, in some cases, before we meet with them.
6. Take a minute to plug your products and services. What products manufactured by your company are you focusing on these days? What is hot?
ROY: Our core products for aggregates are loaders, excavators and articulated haulers. Wheel loaders still tend to be the tool of choice for material extraction and most of the demand comes from mid-sized loaders. Our L220 and L260 are proving to be extremely cost effective for topside loading. At Volvo CE we hang our hat on fuel economy – so the fuel savings with these loaders is dramatic. Customers often show us savings of up to 50 percent in their fuel bills. Large excavators are also growing as primary loading tools in North America.
We are fortunate that the Volvo articulated hauler is still the gold standard in the industry. The latest Volvo models, the A45 and A60, are workhorses. They remove normal production limitations like weather, haul road conditions and grades. We had a fantastic launch year with the A60, and we’re still exploring where it will have the most impact. It is proving to be a game-changer in the industrial minerals segment, and I believe it will be widely accepted in underground mining due to its unique combination of production capacity and mobility.
Regarding our services, Volvo ActiveCare Direct (ACD) is our unique OEM-managed telematics program that has been a great success among our customers. Unlike traditional telematics programs that generate a huge amount of data without clear instruction on how to deal with it, ACD provides customers with monthly reports with valuable, actionable information and sends customer and dealers prioritized alerts, which help customers and dealers resolve machine issues even before they occur.
KANARIS: VDG is a drum motor conveyor drive manufacturing company. For the past 33 years, we have been manufacturing drum motors for belt conveyors in United States and Canada. Our drum motor product line ranges from 4-in. diameter to 36-in. diameter, and 0.25 hp to 500 hp. Our drum motors serve all industries using belt conveyors, such as; aggregate, mining, airline baggage systems, food processing, automotive and others.
The VDG drum motor is a unique conveyor belt drive that doesn’t require externally mounted components like motor, gear reducer, “V” belt, drive chains, or chain guards. The drive drum is the only rotating component and does not require pillow block bearings. The only required maintenance is an oil change. Because of the all enclosed design, vital components are not exposed to the environmental conditions that the conveyor is exposed to, and that increases the service longevity of the drive. Due to the inline design connection of the electric motor to the gear-reducer, the VDG drum motor is 25 to 35 percent more efficient than conventional exposed drives. In the last five years, VDG has invested in new planetary gear reducer technologies with very high safety factor capable of running under the most demanding and harsh environmental conditions.
CISZCZON: Polydeck’s mission is to continue being the innovative leader in the screening media industry. We do this by partnering with our employees and customers and focusing on providing optimal screening solutions for our customers by focusing on safety, customer satisfaction, uncompromising quality, superior service, people development, research and development, unmatched technical support and a caring and performance culture. Polydeck focuses on new innovative products to meet our customer’s needs.
KRAUSE: Modular and mobile are hot these days. As explained in some of the other questions, the buying game has changed and instead of waiting for a custom engineered system, users are buying ready to go packages so that they can show savings quickly. So modular wash and portable crushing and screening remain hot. Track crushers certainly control more of the market, meanwhile there remains a vibrant wheeled market in North America that allows for quick movement and set up for half the price of a track unit.
GRAY: Our core products, which consist of T-Series cones, Iron Giant and Hydra-jaw crushers and Vibro-king TL inclined screens. Innovative and safe designs are the key to productivity and longevity. We’ve built our product designs from end user feedback. Three times each year we host Technica training sessions, which educate the end users on maintaining their machines, at the same time, they teach us what is important to them.
LININGER: KPI-JCI and Astec Mobile Screens have many new products that have hit the market in the last year. A few examples include our new KCS Kodiak Control System package on our Kodiak cone crusher, our Multi-frequency screens from Astec Mobile Screens, the tramp iron relief system on our jaw crushers and the hybrid power systems on many of our track plants.
GARRISON: As you know, Superior is in the midst of an extreme product development process. Many in the industry saw that in person for the first time at ConExpo-Con/Agg 2017. There, we launched our full line of crushing, screening and washing equipment that join our conveying line and allow us to serve our customers from rock face to load out. Day by day and sale by sale, our crushing equipment is gaining more and more momentum. Our Patriot Cone, Liberty Jaw and Valor VSI are proven products and we’re excited to share many American-made success stories with our customers.
We launched our line of vibratory solutions at the same time we launched crushers and the excitement for this product sector has been strong. It turns out, the market was looking to try something new. While our product functions like a traditional screen, we incorporated several new features into our units to ease maintenance and increase production. Features like bottle-jack lifting points, which speed up and bring a new level of safety spring maintenance.
MEHTA: BKT has introduced lot of new sizes and patterns that complete our range of products. BKT has developed 2700 R49’s that one may see running at mine sites. Other hot items for BKT are sizes 20.5 R25, 23.5 R25, 25.5 R25, 29.5R 29 and 24.00 R 35s for various applications as they will meet the need of aggregate companies. BKT is being viewed as a quality product that runs against any competitor out in the market place. Our cost per hour is favorable to others and we have increasing numbers of qualified personnel to handle calls and concerns.
Where other companies are lightening up on their sales force, BKT is hiring qualified people. BKT is making fast inroads into capturing market share and is always looking for ways to best serve their customers. We are also supplying tires to OE companies like Caterpillar, JCB, Mitsubishi and Manitou. Newly introduced 875/65R29 SR35 E3/L3 and SR41 E4/L4 will ease the current shortage felt in the market and our 45/65-45 and 45/65 R 45 are currently being tested in different parts of USA.
LEPP: Earlier this year, VDG released the new GrizzlyDrive Series of drum motors – a purpose-built conveyor drive solution designed specifically for the aggregate and mining industries. Part of this design is our IronGrip lagging – a metal bar reinforced hot bonded rubber or ceramic insert lagging. This design has been proven to provide a robust, long-term lagging solution in the harshest conditions. Van der Graaf is also launch the new Intelligent Drum Motor Line, which will provide drum motors with built-in variable frequency drives (VFDs) up to 5 hp – perfect for mobile equipment. This will allow operators to have local speed control at the motor without additional housings for drives elsewhere.
7. How do you expect the industry to perform in 2019? What factors point to an up versus down year? What will some of the construction-heavy markets around the country be in the coming year?
MEHTA: The number of new projects that have started and are on the books will give a running start to 2019. In 2019, we expect to be even better than 2018, as President Trump gains in popularity and is delivering. Our country is now being a leader and not a follower. 2019 promises to be another excellent year of growth for BKT. The construction industry will continue to have another robust year. Unemployment is at the lowest it has ever been in years and interest rates continue to be low, creating a positive pattern for growth. BKT is prepared with increased production capacity, knowledgeable people in the field, excellent quality backed by good after sales service and best value for money for the companies that invest in BKT.
LEPP: We feel confident in continued growth into 2019. Many capital projects we’re involved in will be next year, as well as the potential for increased infrastructure spending.
KANARIS: The past two years, the overall business in the industries we serve have been trending upwards. Looking ahead to 2019 we expect the growth to continue. We speculate the construction-heavy markets will follow the incline growth of the other industries we serve.
LININGER: We anticipate a positive year in 2019. This has been a consistent message from both our dealers and end users. I think that we will see construction-heavy markets spread across the country next year. Throughout my career, the western part of the country seemed to slow down and speed up before the eastern did. We saw strong business in 2017 in the West and are now seeing that same level of activity across the country, I foresee that level staying consistent throughout 2019.
GARRISON: Based on bidding activity going into the fall, we don’t really expect to slow down much in 2019. Frac sand plants and equipment investment is showing signs of slowing down.
ROY: We have been riding a very strong demand wave for the past year or two now and put a lot of iron to work in North America. We see signs of a comprehensively robust economy, and we expect positive numbers for the next year as well. We have been serving equipment to all facets of construction, from major roadways and airports to oil and gas sites and utilities.
GRAY: We expect steady growth over the next 18 to 24 months.
KRAUSE: The factors, commercial and housing building, that have provided the increased business levels for the last 18 months will drive the next 12 months. So like other cycles in this industry the areas where we are seeing population movement, in or out, will see growth or shrinkage. The South will continue to be strong and it appears that the Southwest United States will continue to see an increase from low levels. Follow the population and you will see the business follow
CISZCZON: Unless we pass an infrastructure bill shortly, I expect the aggregate industry to grow on a 2 to 3 percent basis for 2019. Even without an infrastructure bill, I expect the aggregate industry to grow because of the overall strong economy for 2019. Texas will continue to be a hot spot in the aggregate industry for 2019.
8. Is there any other subject you would like to comment on?
GRAY: Availability of skilled labor is low. We are utilizing new recruiting strategies to seek qualified applicants.
CISZCZON: I am concerned about the tariffs and possible trade wars. These tariffs and trade wars raise the cost of doing business for all parties.
ROY: For the past 10 years, there has a tremendous amount of ‘noise’ in the industry over telematics, data management and reporting. Now we are getting lots of positive feedbacks from our customers, who are saying we are taking a leading position in cleaning up this data and proving valuable information in a clear and concise way. Our systems, like Active Care Direct, are making significant impacts to our customers’ bottom lines. In a nutshell, our products are running better, faster, cleaner and less costly than ever before – and our customers expect these benefits from us.
It’s important to emphasize that for years the construction industry lagged behind other industries when it comes to digitalization and the industry is ripe for disruptive technologies. With that in mind, Volvo CE has been investing strongly in technology and innovation. The main goal is to achieve what we call 3Zeros and 10X: zero emissions, zero accidents, zero unplanned downtime and 10 times higher efficiency.
KANARIS: I would like to thank the editors of the Rock Products publication for giving us the opportunity to voice our opinion in these very important matters. The management at VDG have and will continue to make investments in research and development, new technologies, and state of the art manufacturing process. We are also very excited to announce the opening of our new U.S. manufacturing facility in Shelby Township, Mich. We strongly believe the best way to increase business in the United States is to manufacture in the United States.