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Hillhead 2003

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Sunshine and optimism in abundance at last month’s International Quarrying and Recycling Show

With a record-breaking 445 exhibitors and 15,600 visitors, many travelling from countries as far afield as Puerto Rico, China and Australia, the biennial Hillhead exhibition — the world’s largest working quarry show — once again became the focus of attention of the international quarrying and recycling industries for three warm, sunny days in June.

Taking place 20 years after the first ever ‘Hillhead’ show in 1983, the timing of Hillhead 2003 held particular significance for the Tarmac Group, the owners of Hillhead Quarry, who used their presence at the show to celebrate the company’s centenary. It was on 17 June 1903 that Edgar Purnell Hooley founded TarMacadam Syndicate Ltd — the forerunner to today’s multi-million-pound business — with a nominal capital of £25,000!

Day one of the show got off to a flying start with literally hundreds visitors streaming into the showground as soon as the gates opened. However, thanks to the unprecedented number of people who had pre-registered for this year’s event, queues for the registration area were, for the most part, kept to a minimum.

As well as being the first opportunity for visitors to see the very latest products, equipment and services available to the industry, the first day of Hillhead has, by tradition, become something of a launch pad for key industry initiatives and developments, and this year was no exception. The Quarry Products Association, in conjunction with The Institute of Quarrying, used the opportunity to initiate an information campaign aimed at raising awareness of the impending new European Standards for Aggregates, which come into effect on 1 January 2004.

Introducing a series of three short briefings by Stephen Phillips of the ODPM, Robert Dudgeon of the Highways Agency and Colin Loveday of Tarmac, Simon van der Byl, director general of the QPA, said: ‘Unless everyone understands the details of the new European Standards and how they impact across construction products, their implementation could result in confusion and disruption to contracts. It is essential that we get the information out to all stakeholders and everyone is prepared for the changes when they come into effect at the beginning of next year.’

A little later in the day Colin Loveday expanded on the subject in The Institute of Quarrying’s on-site lecture theatre, where he highlighted the key issues, provisions and implications of the changes in the standards, and urged delegates to obtain copies of the new National Guidance Documents, published by the BSI, which cover each of the new European Standards.

The IQ lecture theatre also provided the setting for around 30 other technical presentations during the course of the three-day show, with subjects ranging from ‘Whole-body vibration regulations’ and ‘Noise reduction on hydraulic excavators’ to ‘Geodiversity’, ‘Computer-controlled drill rigs’ and ‘The use of 3D positioning and GPS in the extraction industries’.

The Institute of Quarrying was in the news again on day two of the show when it became the second recipient of a new award from the HSE’s Quarries National Joint Advisory Committee. Every two years at Hillhead the QNJAC presents an award to an organization or company which has shown innovation, commitment to the industry or demonstrated practical use of state-of-the-art technology in promoting health and safety in quarrying; the first award was presented to Finning (UK) Ltd in 2001.

Jack Berridge, executive director of The Institute of Quarrying, was on hand to collect the latest award from Terry Rose, HSE’s divisional director Wales and chairman of the QNJAC, for the Institute’s work in developing national vocational training qualifications which, the committee believes, will make a major contribution to health and safety in quarrying, and to the achievement of the industry’s ‘hard target’.

Aside from such formalities however, Hillhead is essentially a showcase event where the main business of the day is the promotion of the latest plant, equipment and services to a high-calibre international audience, and as usual the static display stands and live demonstration areas in the 25-acre showground were completely filled and alive with activity. Regular attendees may have noticed that this year’s event had a slightly different look compared to recent past shows, with a number of regular exhibitors taking up new positions around the showground.

Most noticeably, JCB’s impressive two-storey pavilion and product display was located on the south viewing platform adjacent to the recycling demonstration area, occupying the space vacated by MMD who this year were in a new position alongside the rock-processing demonstrations. Meanwhile, Volvo Construction Equipment had set up camp adjacent to Marubeni-Komatsu, in a position which also overlooked the rock-processing demonstration area where a number of the latest loaders and haulers from both companies were kept busy delivering and feeding materials to the various crushing and screening plants.

Commenting on their relocation, Volvo’s sales promotion manager, Mark Gunns, said the new position was much more conducive to attracting visitors than their former plot. ‘We had a far better flow of people and were particularly busy on the middle day, with a number of deals struck on the stand,’ he commented.

Just around the corner, the Terex, Caterpillar and Liebherr stands were all still in their usual familiar positions overlooking the face demonstration area, where a specially prepared rock pile gave some of the latest machines from all three companies the chance to show off their loading and hauling capabilities alongside other machines from Bell, Case, Daewoo, Komatsu and Volvo.

Commenting on the event, Bell Equipment UK said they had an extremely successful show with over £3 million of business concluded on the stand during the course of the event. Describing Hillhead 2003 as an ‘outstanding success’, sales and marketing manager Bob Aldridge said he wished the company had had more staff on the stand to cope with the large number of enquiries, but he said Bell would be conducting field demonstrations of their 50-tonne B50D articulated dumptruck and 4206D construction tractor for the next month or so at various locations around the country to cater for the high levels of interest in these machines.

Caterpillar dealers Finning (UK) Ltd said they too had had a very successful show despite being the target of a small group of pro-Palestinian political activists who managed to stage a sit in on top of two of their wheel loaders. After a vociferous rail against the Israeli army’s use of Cat bulldozers to demolish civilian homes in the Gaza Strip, the protesters were finally persuaded to end their 2h demonstration and left the site without further ado.

Commenting on the episode, Alex Hillman, Finning (UK) Ltd’s general manager of marketing, said the whole situation was handled extremely well by Hillhead’s safety team and the police, with the safety of the protesters being paramount at all times.

Turning to commercial matters, Mr Hillman said it was always a pleasure to take part in Hillhead as the vibrancy of the show and the quality of visitors never failed to meet Caterpillar’s expectations. ‘We also met more overseas visitors on the stand this year than ever before and we’re already looking forward to the 2005 show,’ he added.

Nigel Jennison, divisional director of earthmover sales with Liebherr Great Britain Ltd, echoed these sentiments. He described the exhibition as ‘first class’ and said it was the best Hillhead show Liebherr had ever taken part in. He too was particularly pleased with the number of overseas visitors, some of whom had come from as far afield as Puerto Rico and Australia. ‘We sold machines at the show, received a huge number of strong enquiries and met a lot of potential new customers. In fact, we could have done with a couple more show days,’ he enthused.

Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the showground, Powerscreen — the official sponsors of the recycling demonstration area — took full advantage of the event to demonstrate their capabilities in materials recycling and reclamation with a comprehensive line-up comprising a new Trommel 615, a Turbo Shredder, a two-bay picking station, an overband magnet, a TR blower, a water separator and an MDS4 mobile density separator.

Alongside the Powerscreen demonstration, Engcon AB’s clever Tiltrotator bucket-attachment device for excavators and backhoe loaders was put through its paces, demonstrating the versatility and flexibility which make it such a useful and popular tool for improving operational effectiveness and safety on site.

Not far away Erin Systems demonstrated some of their latest crushing and screening equipment, suitable for both recycling and quarrying applications, including the Trident TD125T and Fingerscreener 206T, together with the new, sleek-looking Powercrusher PC 1375 tracked impact crusher from Hartl Anlagenbau GmbH.

Elsewhere in the recycling demonstration area, Heathway’s Red Rhino mini jaw crusher attracted a lot of prospective customers. ‘We were particularly busy on the Wednesday and Thursday, and a lot of visitors requested further demonstrations of the machine’s capabilities at their own sites, which we will be following up over the next few weeks,’ said sales director Darren Jones.

In the rock-processing demonstration area the live action was particularly intense, with crushing and screening equipment from Viper, Powerscreen, BL-Pegson, Finlay Hydrascreens, Tesab Engineering, MMD and Parker Plant working side by side throughout the day in front of large audiences.

Harry McCourt, managing director of Viper International Ltd, who were demonstrating their award-winning Discovery and Kompaq screening systems, said never before he had seen so many customers on the first day of the show. Likewise, Andrew Dakin, sales director of BL-Pegson, was equally impressed with the number of visitors, particularly from overseas. ‘We’ve even had visitors from the Czech Republic where there is a significant potential market for our equipment,’ he said.

Perhaps the biggest crowd-pullers in this part of the showground, however, were two novel in-situ rock crushers — the tractor-towed Kirpy crusher, which was being demonstrated by Bennett Soil Technology, and the much larger 100-tonne Vermeer T1255 Terrain Leveller with its 39-tonne rock-cutting drum, which was being shown for the first time in the UK by distributors B-Trac Equipment.

Mark Darwin, marketing manager with B-Trac, said the Terrain Leveller had attracted a lot of interest as there was nothing else quite like it at the show. ‘With its ability to produce a consistent grade of material from solid rock in one pass, without the need for drill rigs, explosives, primary crushers and large haul trucks, the T1255 requires a whole new approach to the way we look at quarrying,’ he explained. ‘Nevertheless, we received good feedback from visitors and had serious discussions with a number of people.’

Back in the main showground, where a 29.5m high Universal asphalt plant from Ammann towered over the centre of the site, British coating plant manufacturers Mixlance (Technical Services) used Hillhead 2003 to launch their modular batch-heater coating/recycling plant, a completely new type of low-level unit capable of mixing batches ranging from 500kg to 3 tonnes.

Commenting on the show, Mixlance’s general manager, Clive Massey, said the company’s stand was busy all day, every day. ‘We had discussions with senior representatives from RMC, Tarmac and Hanson and even had an enquiry from the Scottish Regional Development Council, who are considering putting one of our plants on the Isle of Skye. As a fairly small company in this business, this has given us a great deal of credibility,’ he said.

Meanwhile, over in the registration pavilion, Peter Jackson, sales manager of total weighing solution specialists BetterWeigh, was delighted with the level of interest in his company’s hardware and software packages, despite being disrupted by a temporary hiatus in the pavilion’s power supply on the first day. ‘We’ve picked up over 60 good new leads and are really looking forward to exhibiting again at the next show in 2005,’ he commented.

No doubt helped by the near perfect weather conditions, there was overwhelming agreement from exhibitors and visitors alike that this year’s show had lived up to everyone’s expectations and had a tangible air of optimism about it, a feeling well summed up on the Michelin Tyres stand by one of Hillhead’s many overseas visitors, Mr J-P. Verreth of TRECO SA in Belgium, who described the event as ‘a living, vibrant show — the only one in Europe.’

The organizers of Hillhead 2003 would like to express their grateful thanks to Tarmac for helping to make the show such a success.

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