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How World of Asphalt/AGG1 connects the roadbuilding and aggregates industries

Attendees crowding a busy show hall floor
World of Asphalt/AGG1 will take place in Nashville, TN, from March 25-27, 2024. World of Asphalt

World of Asphalt/AGG1 is coming off a record-breaking year in 2022, and attendance is expected to be strong again this year. Asphalt and aggregates professionals from across North America will be in Nashville, TN, to share experiences, learn from their peers, and see the latest equipment and technology for the roadbuilding and aggregates industries. World of Asphalt Show Director Brittany Schmidtke and Jennifer Dugas, vice president of membership and events with the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA), organizers of AGG1, expect topics like workforce development and retention, sustainability, and new technologies to drive the discussion among attendees and more than 400 exhibitors.

What are the key challenges in the paving and aggregates sectors to start 2024, and how can attendees use the show to set their businesses up for success?

Brittany Schmidtke Right now the industry is really strong; it has a lot of funding from the recent [U.S.] infrastructure bill. A hot topic has been sustainability – how are contractors, the equipment manufacturers, the industry as a whole addressing such a large topic? Another common item is workforce development. We know that it continues to require unique solutions for everyone in many industries to find some new routes and avenues.

World of Asphalt provides a place for people to start communicating and finding solutions to some of these problems that can feel really large. When they come together, there's that energy and ideation that starts happening, especially as they start looking at equipment and software and other services that can sometimes help bridge that gap.

We try to provide time for attendees to be able to connect. We hold the Rock and Road Reception where exhibitors can participate as sponsors as well. New this year, we're having a pre-show attendee event on the night before the show, Sunday, March 24, that really has come about from an attendee group wanting to provide even more networking.

The last day of the show on March 27, the Women of Asphalt are partnering with World of Asphalt for their first ever national meetup, the Women of Asphalt Day. It really ties back into workforce development, and that idea that there's this budding experience of women in the industry that needs more highlighting and more connection. We're really excited to support their efforts in that area.

Jennifer Dugas The safety and health of our workers in the aggregates industry is a core value at NSSGA. At the AGG1 Academy sessions, we will be focusing on a lot of safety and health issues, like promoting a zero-injury safety culture, talking about total worker health, and learning more about navigating the rules and regulations of MSHA (Mine Safety & Health Administration).

Something we've also been talking about for the past few years is the challenges of the workforce – how to promote bench strength and training programs along with growing a great culture. Another aspect that's been coming up more and more is recruiting the next generation, so I know that we're going to be talking about that a lot at the AGG1 Academy sessions. I know upcoming generations are looking for a strong workforce culture inside of their workplace.

Another topic that comes up in every conversation is the community relations piece of what our quarries do – how to be good stewards in the community, and how community support is critical to the success of all the quarries that we represent. In addition, new and emerging technologies and the backbone of quarry operations will be discussed, whether it's conveying, washing, classifying, screening, or crushing.

The last time we got to meet at the AGG1 Academy and Expo was in 2022. There's a lot for our members to come together and talk about. AGG1 provides a touchpoint for folks to reconnect and learn about new and emerging technologies that they haven't been able to see since 2022. 

World of Asphalt/AGG1 provides an opportunity to see the latest technology - what highlights and themes can we expect?

Schmidtke A number of exhibitors are keeping a tight lip on some of the new and exciting stuff coming out, but we do know that there are some things coming down the pipeline around artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and augmented reality . . . equipment that is really equipped with the next generation of technology. A lot of that is focused on creating the safest work spaces and building equipment that provides innovation in safety.

A lot of equipment manufacturers are focused on providing sessions, and content in general, on how to utilize equipment in a safe fashion, and how to have a consistently safe workspace. On the exhibit floor and with exhibitors in their booths we are focused on reducing distracted driving, reducing any exposure for workers in a work zone.

Dugas You can expect that exhibitors will be showcasing and talking about how the latest mining machinery design trends are changing aggregates equipment, how electric (vehicle) technologies are addressing concerns that are coming up, and how artificial intelligence can be used to predict failures or improve maintenance. Many innovators are utilizing various aspects of AI. These types of tools will be brought into the heavy equipment industry and revolutionize how our members maintain their products or train their people.

And, obviously, that goes back to safety as well. I know a lot of our members are focusing on utilizing AI for safety issues. This will also come up in some of the education sessions as well.

How will World of Asphalt/AGG1 benefit and support Canadian attendees and other international visitors?

Schmidtke Our partner manager has been working closely with a number of groups in Canada and Mexico. When we look at all of North America, we talk about World of Asphalt and the show from a greater scope, and from an international presence, the exhibitors are prepared for a scope that's larger than just the U.S. buyer. We have delegations coming all the way from Africa, Mexico, and Canada to the show as well. And really, their equipment and their service and sales are ready and able to meet the needs of customers from across the globe.

Dugas We work closely with Canada, and all professionals in the aggregates industry, including those in Canada, are encouraged to register to come and learn about the new things that are happening. Some of our manufacturers and service members are located in Canada, and have a big presence here at AGG1. I also encourage Canadian members to set up meetings, whether it's with prospective clients, if they are participating on the show floor as an exhibitor, or with the media that will be in Nashville. There are lots of different ways to engage and participate at the show.

Education sessions provide aggregates and asphalt professionals with an opportunity to network and learn from their peers. World of Asphalt/AGG1

Education sessions provide opportunity for crews to build up their skills

It's always exciting to see what's on the trade show floor at World of Asphalt/AGG1, but the event has far more to share than just new and innovative products. For many asphalt and aggregates professionals, it is also about gaining new knowledge and skills that help build their businesses.

World of Asphalt and AGG1 offer an education program calendar that includes 120 sessions covering everything from paving techniques to tips that help in the office, and all topics in between.

For asphalt pros, the People, Plants and Paving Conference hosted by the National Asphalt Pavement Association provides a variety of sessions. It is divided into five education tracks: People, Plants, Paving, Pavement Preservation, and Environment, Health, Safety & Sustainability. Each track provides a focus on a key area of business for paving contractors. For example, sessions in the People track provide insights into hiring, training, communications, and more, while the Paving track shares techniques and best practices for a broad range of asphalt jobs and situations.

"The People track is increasing in attendance as people try to upskill and learn how to manage a new workforce generation. Or it may be newer crew members or plant operators coming to build up their skills and continue their education," says World of Asphalt Show Director Brittany Schmidtke. "I love to see programming providing actionable steps that contractors can walk away with and start talking to their team about implementing right away."

The AGG1 Academy has its own four tracks of sessions: Operations & Production, Safety & Health, Business & People Management, and Environment & Stewardship. Topics for aggregates professionals run from 101-style sessions that cover the basics of the business, all the way to advanced technology and diversifying the aggregates industry.

March 27, the final day of the show, is Women in Asphalt Day, which will feature focused keynotes and education sessions specifically designed for women to learn more, develop leadership skills, and advance professional opportunities in the industry.

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