As 2021 winds down we're struck by how many exciting – and let's face it, cool – new machines and technologies were introduced this year. Power, precision and sophistication are all present in our picks for this year's top introductions, from "invisible" bucket technology, to several machines that push the upper edge of capability in their respective categories. Read on for our top introductions from 2021.
CASE Construction Equipment
CASE's TV620B compact track loader is a beast – the largest and most powerful compact track loader to date sits in a sweet spot at the high end of the CTL spectrum where we're seeing more machines muscle into small dozer territory. This 114-hp, 6,200-pound ROC CTL delivers high breakout forces and a host of standard features including hydraulics on demand to allow the operator to easily dial in the percentage of auxiliary hydraulic flow to the attachment. As part of CASE's B Series lineup, this machine has an eight-inch multi-function display and rear-view camera on split-screen display with machine data.
Wheel loaders were another point of focus for CASE in 2021 with extensive updates to the company's lineup. The G Series wheel loader line features an integrated payload system to improve load accuracy and provide detailed reporting, a new tire pressure monitoring system, new touchscreen display, configurable armrest buttons, new adjustable electro-hydraulic controls, Smart Power Mode and new electro-hydraulic parallel lift functionality.
When Western Star introduced the 49X in 2020, the company said more work trucks would be on the way. Sure enough, 2021 brought the launch of the next model in the line: the lighter, shorter and more maneuverable 47X. Western Star's goal with the 47X is to offer a truck that fits well on urban construction sites and other smaller spaces, while meeting the needs of buyers and body builders for concrete mixer, dump truck and other uses. A lighter base truck means more hauling capacity, and a variety of features intended to make it easier for body builders to install their equipment adds flexibility to the 47X.
A larger cab allows extra comfort for drivers, and is designed to remove the need for a control box between the seats to add legroom and reduce obstacles. Controls can be easily mounted using a flex panel in the dash, placing them within reach and in a spot that doesn't require the driver to turn away from the road.
Volvo Construction Equipment
Volvo entered a new size class in 2021 with the introduction of the EC530E and EC550E excavators designed for heavy-duty digging, mass excavation and large-scale site preparation. These excavators are designed to be a perfect pairing with 30- to 40-ton articulated haulers, reducing cycle times and boosting productivity up to 20 percent. The company emphasized durability and stability of the undercarriage, as well as electro-hydraulics which contribute to a 25 percent increase in fuel efficiency. Optional Comfort Drive Control helps reduce operator fatigue by allowing the excavator to be steered with joysticks instead of pedals.
Volvo also furthered progress in its commitment to transition its full range of compact machines to electric versions. The company announced the addition of three more machines – two more excavators and a wheel loader – expanding the lineup to five machines by the end of 2022.
Operators will be riding high in the JLG 670SJ self-levelling boom lift. This machine is a world's first – featuring a fully integrated, self-levelling chassis which automatically adapts to terrain on slopes up to 10 degrees in any direction, while driving with full functionality at a 67-foot platform height. The productivity gains of not lowering and raising the boom with each move around the job site makes work more efficient for operators, and self-levelling reduces or eliminates prep work to level the work area.
This development also eliminates the effort of repositioning the boom lift to find a level work area. This helps operators get into position and up to the work area quicker, maximizes reach capabilities and reduces the need for higher reaching lifts.
Last year we were impressed by Liebherr's LB 16 Unplugged drill rig, and in 2021 the company translated that alternative drive technology to produce the world's first battery-powered crawler cranes, the LR 1250.1 and LR 1200.1 Unplugged. This advancement helps operations minimize their environmental footprint, reduce noise levels in sensitive environments and can give contractors a competitive advantage when bidding for jobs that have stringent emissions requirements – elevating crawler cranes into new territory.
Liebherr also expanded its Generation 8 crawler excavator lineup this year, with the addition of the 28-tonne R 928 G8. With this new excavator, Liebherr focused on optimizing the weight of the machine for easy transport and a boost in breakout force performance.
The Cat D11 is a big machine – and it now comes with an electric-drive option, making the Cat D11 XE the world's largest electric-drive dozer with high-drive. With this configuration, Cat is targeting up to 25 percent lower fuel costs per bank cubic metres in addition to 20 percent longer engine rebuild cycles than mechanical drive models, thanks to the electric drive's 60 percent fewer moving parts. Cat also added additional XE models to its mid-size wheel loader lineup.
In 2021 Cat updated its 3-tonne mini excavators, the first update for this machine class in over a decade – these models now feature Stick Steer, simplified maintenance and received a boost in performance for travel and trenching operations.
Doosan Infracore North America
Doosan focused heavily on wheel loaders in 2021, introducing both impressive new technology and the first seven models of its -7 wheel loader lineup, with an additional five models to come in 2022. Doosan boosted visibility, increased bucket capacity and packed in technology features, including Situation Awareness Technology to automatically monitor the machine's activity and adjust engine output to match real-time requirements of the hydraulic system and drivetrain. The Doosan Smart Guidance System analyzes operator driving habits and provides tips during operation to improve efficiency, the Load Isolation System improves wheel loader stability while moving and the new Doosan Smart Load weighing system tells the operator the weight of material in the bucket.
The coolest advance in wheel loader safety this year is Doosan's transparent bucket introduction – an industry-unique feature that is available for Doosan wheel loaders ordered from the factory in South Korea. The transparent bucket system uses two cameras shooting from above and below to capture images of what is in front of the machine, which are combined and shown on a monitor in the cab to allow the operator a view ahead. Pedestrians and obstacles are no longer hidden by the big bucket.
Xtreme extended its reach in 2021 with its introduction of the world's tallest fixed boom telehandler at World of Concrete. The Xtreme XR1585-C delivers a maximum lift height of 85 feet (25.9 m), and is the first Xtreme telehandler to utilize a five-section boom design. Capable of lifting loads weighing up to 15,000 pounds (5,443 kg), the Xtreme XR1585-C delivers a maximum of 67 feet (20.4 m) forward reach.
In addition to its impressive capability, Xtreme has designed a new operator station for the rear of the telehandler carriage, enabling the operator to travel with the load to height to improve positioning control. Using a wireless RF pendant, the operator can control all boom functions from the platform. This new operator station was shown as a concept design at World of Concrete, and would be sold as an option.
A new player stepped into the rotating telehandler market in 2021 – JCB's first model in this category is the 512-83R, introduced in response to global demand for rotating telehandlers with heavier lift capacities. This first model has a maximum lift capacity of 12,000 pounds (5.5 tonnes) and a maximum working height of 83 feet (25.5 m). According to JCB, the 512-83R meets changing requirements of contractors and rental companies across the world as the trend toward off-site fabrication requires greater lift capacity and additional versatility.
JCB also added its first reduced swing model to its X-Series crawler excavator line, the 245XR. At just 5 feet 8 inches, the 245XR has a tail swing 40 percent shorter than the conventional 220X, but has many of the same features and is ideal for road construction and maintenance, utility work, urban settings and other confined worksites.
Bobcat's E88 compact excavator boosts lifting capability for restricted urban job sites where a lift is needed, but space is tight. Bobcat increased this machine's lifting capability by up to 14 percent compared to the previous generation. To provide this capability, the E88 comes equipped with dual-flange track rollers, integrated counterweight and extra machine weight. Increased distance from sprocket to idler puts more track on the ground, which adds stability and helps to prevent a rocking sensation while lifting heavier loads. Additional features include integrated lift eye, optional clamp diverter valve and an add-on counterweight option.
Sustainability is an important part of how we work today, and Wirtgen's KMA 240(i) mobile cold recycling mixing plant offers a sustainable approach to road construction right at the job site. Able to process multiple types of feed material – recycled asphalt, demolished concrete, virgin material or others – the plant also adds binding agents to produce a mix that can be used in a variety of construction uses. Cement-treated base layers, roller-compacted concrete, bituminous bound base layers – the end product can be used in road or highway construction, parking lots, industrial pads and more. Mounted on a semi truck platform, the unit is easy to move from site to site.
In another sign that electrification is making its way to new areas of the construction industry, GOMACO introduced the world's first battery-powered curb machine in 2021. The CC-1200e runs off a 48-volt DC lithium-ion battery pack, eliminating engine noise and emissions from the equation while powering curb work for a full day. The G+ control system offers a radio remote control function, and a rotary-sensored slew drive steering system makes for smooth, easy and well controlled paving work. The unit has a 19 cubic foot hopper capacity, can adjust for easy alignment with ready-mix trucks, and has easily interchangeable curb molds.
Control systems were Trimble's theme for 2021, both on the road and in the dirt. The introduction of Roadworks 3D Paving Control brought highly accurate, automatic 3D screed control to asphalt paving operations, meaning that paving operators can ditch the stringline and work from the model itself, which reduces the amount of asphalt used and saves money overall.
Trimble also launched Siteworks SE Started Edition, an entry-level and easy to use surveying software - with a construction GNSS receiver anyone can check grades, slopes or alignments as needed, which helps boost productivity and efficiency with a low-cost investment.
The builders of the Fat Truck amphibious vehicle brought a new model to the market in 2021 responding to demand from the utility industry and others that wanted to move material in rough terrain. Their solution? The Fat Truck 2.8P, equipped with a pickup bed. Designed to haul up to 1,000 kg (2,200 pounds) with very low ground pressure through rugged, wet, swampy areas that would sink other vehicles, the 2.8P can also be fitted with water tanks, sprayers, firefighting gear, a small service crane, and other tools. On solid ground the truck can travel up to 40 km/h (25 mph), in water up to 5 km/h (3 mph), and it can climb muddy slopes up to 75 percent grade.
Throughout 2021 we saw a number of introductions focused on reduced or zero tail swing for tight job sites, and Kubota's U55-5 is designed to deliver compact reduced tail swing versatility while providing a comfortable work space for the operator. It is available in canopy or cab models and digs to a depth of 11 feet 11 inches and has a maximum dump height of 13 feet 2 inches. The redesigned cabin reduces noise levels and features a double adjustable seat and more head and foot space.
We frequently see the clichéd Swiss Army knife comparison used for equipment – but it rings true when the right tools can turn a carrier into a multitasker. Road Widener's Roadbuilder attachment does just that – it enables operators to dispense topsoil, gravel, asphalt, limestone and more for backfilling, road widening, shoulder repairs, remediation and aggregate placement. To sweeten the versatility, it's available with remote control and operates off the carrier's engine and hydraulics; it dispenses up to 20 tons of material in under 10 minutes without the need for any additional scraping or sweeping.
SBM Mineral Processing
SBM expanded the capability of its JAWMAX and REMAX crushers by adding three tracked models in the 40-ton range. A new design is behind the JAWMAX 400 and 450, powered by a 6.7-litre Cummins diesel and 200 kVa on-board generator, with options available to run as a fully electric unit and connect to mains. The STE-110-70 jaw crusher is designed for mobile applications and can work in a range of applications, from concrete processing to hard natural stone. The REMAX 450 impact crusher and JAWMAX 450 both feature a high-performance pre-screening unit that helps cut crusher wear and improves quality and output results.
A new telehandler from Genie offers the ability for customers to stretch out their material handling efforts, with reduced costs and greater capacity. The GTH-1056 is designed to cut total cost of ownership by 10 percent, while offering more lift at maximum heights and an overall stronger machine design. The rugged machine has a maximum capacity of 10,000 pounds. It can lift 5,000 pounds to a max height of 56 feet, and 3,000 pounds at max reach of 42 feet. Genie has made it easy for customers to get the machine they need for their operation, offering three powertrain options to meet different requirements.
While many companies are pushing the bounds of the upper end of compact equipment size, Wacker Neuson entered a different growing equipment category in 2021 with the introduction of its first ride-on utility loader. This versatile machine is ideal for landscaping, light site work, grading, augering and general material handling. The utility track loader maintains a light footprint on finished surfaces and can fit through gates and doorways while delivering a 1,000-pound ROC at 35 percent with a tipping load of 2,857 pounds, and its radial lift path provides vertical lift performance with a hinge pin height of 85.7 inches for dumping into high-sided trucks and has the reach for loading onto truck beds.
Sometimes you need an excavator, sometimes you need a dozer – and sometimes both. That's where Kobelco's ED160BR-7 Blade Runner excavator comes in. A combination of short radius excavator and dozer, this innovative machine can do more than just backfill a trench with its blade – the 105-hp ED260BR-7 has a large-capacity six-way blade with folding edges that improve transportability. The blade has power, angle, tilt and lift capability, allowing the excavator to perform site prep and slope work. Paired with a digging force of 24,800 pounds and dig depth of 19 feet, that gives this excavator plenty of flexibility on the job site.
The pickup market charged forward in 2021 as Ford introduced the first fully electric pickup to consumers. The 2022 F-150 Lightning puts electric power into the popular F-150 pickup body, and does so at a price point close to the gas and diesel models. Ford says there won't be any issues with performance from the new truck; president and CEO Jim Farley's description was: "It hauls ass and tows like a beast." An on-board generator offers the ability to provide power to tools and, with optional connectors, houses when necessary. The truck is also packed with technology and driver comfort features.
Topcon Positioning Systems
Curb and gutter operations that use GPS systems for precision and accuracy can sometimes be challenged when working in certain locations – near buildings, under other structures, and so forth. Topcon has added the ability for its Millimeter GPS solution to work in these areas for customers using the GT-1200 series robotic total station or LN-150 robotic layout navigator. A prism solution can quickly switch these instruments to local positioning systems. The LN-150 is a self-levelling and cost-effective robotic solution, while the GT-1200 series instruments can be used in a similar manner as well as a standalone total station.
Autocar has made a strong push into the vocational sector with a number of new truck offerings. The DC-64 severe-duty Class 8 truck has been introduced in several variants, for concrete pumps, mixers and refuse work, but this year Autocar added the DC-64D dump truck – nicknamed the "Badass." With Cummins power in several different variations and more to come in 2022, the DC-64D is economic and powerful, as well as safe, featuring 325-degree driver visibility and a sloped front end for better forward view. It has a durable cab structure and frame rail material that Autocar says is designed stronger than industry standards.
Brokk is taking the power used by its robotic demolition equipment and putting it into new markets with the Pedestal Boom, a stationary breaker boom system that can be used in aggregates and mining operations. Breakers and power packs normally mounted on demolition robots are instead installed at spots where they can improve the flow of material through crushers and other equipment. Operators can either use a tethered remote control or work from a control room, using video monitoring to run the machine from up to 2,000 metres away. A three-part arm combined with 360-degree slewing gives the unit plenty of flexibility in confined spaces.
On small job sites and in tight spaces, machines with smaller footprints are right at home. Komatsu has added just that to its excavator line with the launch of the PC88MR-11, which has a reduced tail swing to help it fit on roads, bridges and in other limited spaces.
With a swing boom design, the PC88MR-11 is able to tuck up next to buildings and walls easily for hard work in any tight spot, and improvements that have added faster boom up/swing speed combined with responsive quick arm speed shorten cycle times considerably. Shorter cycle times add up to efficiency and lower costs, and six working modes allow the operator to dial in even more efficient operation.
Technology is helping Kleemann improve crushing work through the launch of the new MOBICAT MC 110(i) EVO2 mobile jaw crushing plant. With up to 400 tph throughput, the new plant fits quarry or recycling applications and delivers a variety of innovations. Key is a two-stage overload system that prevents blockages and material bridging issues, reducing downtime. A continuous feed system ensures continuous crusher utilization to improve daily output by up to 10 percent, and an independent double-deck prescreen helps remove fines before they reach the crusher, also improving throughput.
John Deere Construction & Forestry
For John Deere, 2021 marked a change in how customers can choose their equipment, with the goal of making it easier to select a machine based on the buyer's needs. The company's new tiering strategy, rolled out with its utility wheel loaders, will give a choice of three machine levels: G-tier, P-tier and X-tier. G-tier offers practical, economical machines, while P-tier offers more features, and X-tier brings more technology, performance and innovation. Buyers can modify their machine within each tier to ensure that they get the right machine for their level of operation in a price range that makes sense for them.
It may have a compact footprint, but the I4C impact crusher from McCloskey provides the same strength as its larger fellows. Aimed at providing power and production as well as maneuverability in the quarry, the I4C is a 44-inch impact crusher built to the same standards as full-size machines. With a deeper chamber, the impactor creates greater tramp release space. An asymmetric feeder cuts down on bridging and combines with the single unit feeder-hopper construction to provide better motion and vibration for material as it moves into the impact chamber. The crusher is designed for efficient material flow from end to end.
621 State Street
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West Fargo, ND
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Menomonee Falls, WI
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