Talking Asphalt: What I saw at ICUEE – November 2013

I recently went to a tradeshow, hoping to learn more about asphalt. I knew that this show did not focus on asphalt but thought there might be some crossover. Well, there was not much relating to asphalt, but it was a worthwhile show. Let me tell you about some of the things I saw.

The show was the ICUEE, the International Construction and Utility Equipment Exposition, held at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Kentucky. This show is held there every two years. It’s sort of the World of Asphalt for that sector of the construction industry.

More than 17,500 people registered to attend. People from all 50 states and the 10 Canadian provinces attended. The show drew an international audience, with attendees from 50 countries. The show had a record 862 exhibitors, featuring both indoor and outdoor exhibits, along with several live product demonstrations. Educational opportunities were available; there were several scheduled programs, as well as job site safety demonstrations.

I talked with several exhibitors, including large companies and small firms. Everyone that I talked with had a positive outlook. Business may not be great, but all said they were doing OK. The international/export part of their operations seemed to be particularly strong.

As expected, new products and new technologies were featured. But, there were a lot of booths displaying basic stuff, as well. I saw a lot of safety-related exhibits.

One of the more interesting new products was Michelin’s new airless tire for loaders and similar equipment. This not a solid or nitrogen-filled tire, rather it is a single unit which replaces the current tire/wheel/valve assembly. This new tire is supposed to provide more operator comfort (with less “bounce”) and two to three times longer tread wear. It’s called the “TWEEL.”

Other new stuff: I saw a 2015 Chevy pickup; good looking truck. There was a lot of new monitoring equipment, new software, etc.

As I mentioned, the low-tech, basic stuff was covered, too. Did you know woodpeckers are a problem for wooden utility poles? They must be; there is a product specifically made to patch the holes the birds make. And, it’s a carefully formulated blend of epoxy and polyurethane. The cured patch material is the same hardness as the wood, allowing the pole to maintain its original flex without concentrating stresses around the patch. Also, I learned that wooden power poles are available in Douglas fir, cypress, white or yellow pine, as well as laminates. Sounds like the woodpeckers have choices.

I didn’t learn much about asphalt, but I did talk with people from some of the companies who supply the engines for some of the paving equipment. But, the show was worthwhile. If your company does work in the electric, telecommunications, water, wastewater, natural gas, cable or any other utility area, you should consider going to the ICUEE conference. You will learn about the latest technology and meet numerous suppliers. The next show is set for September 29 through October 1, 2015 in Louisville.