Exceptional visitor quality was the general consensus as Hillhead 2007 enjoyed a welcome respite from some of the wettest June weather ever recorded in the UK
Despite the unseasonably wet and windy weather during much of the three-week build-up period, and what was probably the wettest eve-of-show ever experienced in the event’s 25-year history, preparations carried on regardless to ensure Hillhead 2007 opened bang on schedule on Tuesday 26 June.
Thanks to an effective drainage system, the main showground had largely dried out overnight and as the first visitors began to stream in through the gates the sun started to make a welcome appearance through the clouds, heralding a distinct improvement in the weather that, with the exception of an occasional brief shower and slightly cooler temperatures than normal, persisted throughout the three-day event.
As usual, around 450 of the world’s leading manufacturers and suppliers took part in the biennial trade extravaganza at Tarmac’s Hillhead Quarry, near Buxton, Derbyshire, to promote their latest plant, equipment, materials and services, many of which were on display and demonstration for the first time in the UK. All sectors of the extractive and heavy construction industries were represented at the show, including quarrying, recycling, concrete, asphalt, road surfacing, civil engineering, plant hire, demolition, landfill, mining and materials handling, giving visitors from some 80 different countries a unique opportunity to see the plant and equipment in action in a true working environment.
Not surprisingly, the severe weather conditions experienced earlier in the week had some impact on the overall attendance figures, although not to the extent many had feared. In spite of the extensive flooding across parts of Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and the Midlands, not to mention the severe travel disruption and closure of some of the country’s major transport routes, including the M1, A1 and trans-Pennine rail links, total attendance at this year’s event was a remarkable 18,500 – less than 1,000 down on the record Hillhead attendance at the previous show in 2005.
Moreover, exhibitors were virtually unanimous in the view that those visitors who had made it to the show were of an exceptionally high calibre and more than compensated for the slightly reduced numbers. Likewise, having dodged the floods and followed several detours to get to Hillhead, visitors were equally impressed with the ease of access and absence of traffic queues at this year’s show – due in part to the creation of a separate parking area for exhibitors – as well as the abundance of brand new plant and equipment on display and demonstration.
As usual, the middle day of the show [Wednesday] turned out to be the busiest of the three, with most exhibitors reporting very busy stands and brisk business all day long. The first day proved to be slightly quieter than normal, with visitors presumably taking stock of the travel disruptions and deciding to delay their visit for a day or two. Thursday also got off to a quiet start but visitor numbers picked up rapidly throughout the morning to reach a typical level for the final day of the show.
One place where the adverse weather conditions actually served to enhance the overall ‘Hillhead experience’ was in the face demonstration area, where a coffee-coloured pool of slurry provided extra realism for the live displays of loading and hauling equipment. Working in the mud at the foot of the rock pile were a multitude of wheel loaders, including a Cat 988H and 972H, Doosan DL400, Hyundai HL770, Komatsu WA470, Liebherr 5862plus2 and Terex TL450.
Higher up on the rock pile a number of hydraulic excavators were put through their paces, including a Hyundai R450, Komatsu PC450, Terex TC240 and Volvo EC700B. At the same time, a variety of rigid and articulated dumptrucks powered their way through the mud to demonstrate their respective hauling capabilities, including a Bell B50D, Cat 775F and 730 Ejector, Komatsu HD405, Tatra T163, Terex TA30 and TA40, and Volvo A35E. Visitors to the show were also able to get their first glimpse of one of the new Case B-Series articulated dumptrucks which, although not involved in the live demonstrations, was on show for the first time in Europe.
At the opposite end of the showground, the Terex Finlay-sponsored recycling demonstration area was also bristling with activity. This section provided Terex Finlay with an ideal location for the launch of their new track-mounted I-1310RS impact crusher, which took up a prominent position overlooking a wide range of recycling plant and equipment from various manufacturers, including a mobile three-bay picking station from Smulders Waste Technology, a Rubble Master RM70 inner city crusher equipped with an OS80 oversize separator and re-feed belt, and a Compac 8140 mini-recycler from Herbst Machinery.
Elsewhere in the recycling demonstration area a number of other machines were put through their paces, including the new R155 three-way-split high-energy recycling screener from McCloskey International, an Atlante concrete shredder/C&D waste recycling plant from OM SpA, and a Warrior 1800 screener from Powerscreen. In addition, setting themselves apart from the other mobile plant manufacturers, this area of the showground has also become the preferred location for JCB, allowing them to demonstrate their wide range of loading, hauling and materials-handling equipment in a variety of typical industry applications.
In the rock processing demonstration area, which runs along virtually the entire length of the showground, the live action was no less intense, with a plethora of crushing and screening machines being presented by no fewer than nine leading equipment manufacturers. At one end of this section Fintec demonstrated their redesigned 1080 track-mounted cone crusher along with an 1107 jaw crusher and 542 track-mounted three-way-split screener, while nearby Extec were demonstrating their C12+ jaw crusher, X44 SBS cone crusher and brand new three-way-split S-6 Doublescreen. Next door to them Terex Pegson and Powerscreen put on a large joint demonstration comprising a 1412 Trakpactor, an XA400 jaw crusher, a 1300 Maxtrak cone crusher and the brand new XV350 vertical-shaft impactor from Terex Pegson, in conjunction with the new H6230R and Chieftain 2100X screening machines from Powerscreen. Meanwhile, Terex Finlay used Hillhead to demonstrate their recently introduced C-1540 cone crusher, which was operated in conjunction with a J-1175 jaw crusher and 694 four-way-split screener.
A number of other machines completed the line up of crushing and screening equipment in the rock processing demonstration area, including a track-mounted Möckeln 5200 three-way-split screener, a Tesab 1412T secondary impactor, a TwisterTrac AC210 mobile VSI crusher from Pilot Crushtec and a pair of excavator-mounted crusher buckets from Dig A Crusher.
The three live demonstration areas at Hillhead provide an exciting and dynamic backdrop that contributes enormously to the show’s popular appeal and unique atmosphere, however many of the static displays at the heart of the 140,000m2 showground are equally impressive. Dominating the skyline at this year’s event were three imposing asphalt plant towers from Ammann, Benninghoven and KVM, while looming large on the horizon in the south-east corner of the site was an impressive Hercules heavy-duty rock trommel from Stelex Construction Equipment.
It is here among the hundreds of colourful outdoor displays and pavilion exhibits in the main showground where much of the serious business of the day is conducted, with deals being struck, leads being established, new contacts being made and old contacts being renewed. Confirmation of this was provided by Phoenix Transworld, who reported the sale of three asphalt plants at the show, one of which was already on the cards while the other two were completely unexpected. And judging by the positive comments from other exhibitors, this year’s event proved just as popular and no less successful than previous Hillhead shows for them too.
Ronald Jackson, managing director of Xact Mixers, said: ‘This is our first time at Hillhead and it has been a buoyant and lively show, allowing us to target potential customers. We have been overwhelmed by the interest in our volumetric concrete mixers, having seen a lot of good-quality people from the UK and overseas, as well as receiving a number of orders.’
Kevin Taylor, managing director of Liquid Management Solutions (LMS), providers of innovative and cost-effective fuel-management solutions, echoed these sentiments. He said he knew there would be a high level of interest in LMS’s RFID secure refuelling solution at this year’s show, but was genuinely surprised by the interest from overseas. ‘I was actually taking serious enquiries from international clients, which I didn’t expect,’ he said.
In a similar vein, Greg Churchill, managing director of Churchill Environmental, described Hillhead 2007 as an excellent show. ‘We had a terrific response to our Envirofoam dust-suppression system with a good number of enquiries and orders, some of which were from overseas agents and users. We will no doubt be back again for Hillhead 2009 in two years’ time.’
A first-time overseas exhibitor was equally enthusiastic about the show. André Däschlein, sales manager – mixing and crushing technology with BHS-Sonthofen GmbH, said: ‘As a foreign company trying to break into the UK concrete market, we had to exhibit at the show. Hillhead is the largest exhibition of its kind in the world and we have been impressed with the scale and variety of visitors to our stand. As a result, we have received a number of excellent leads and made a lot of contacts, which will help us to learn more about the UK market.’
Meanwhile, flying the flag for British industry, Parker Plant were promoting their full range of asphalt, bulk handling, concrete, crushing and screening, and sand and gravel processing plant and equipment. Sales engineer Jack Sawbridge said that, despite the poor weather at this year’s show, the company had been very pleased with the quality of visitors to the stand, as they had received a significant number of enquiries and potential orders. ‘Parker Plant have been a regular exhibitor at Hillhead and this will continue into the future,’ he confirmed.
Ed Prosser, marketing manager with Marubeni-Komatsu, was in an equally upbeat mood. Describing Hillhead 2007 as an excellent show, he said: ‘We had a lot of interest in our PC800LC-8 excavator, HD605-7 dumptruck and WA800-3 wheel loader – all of which featured the latest safe access and egress systems – and we sold two of our new D51 super-slant-nose bulldozers and a PC350 excavator off the stand.’
Safe access and egress systems and better all-round visibility for machinery operators also featured prominently in an exhibition of technical developments and innovations that have helped improve the health and safety of the quarry industry workforce. The exhibition was jointly hosted by The Institute of Quarrying and the Quarry Products Association and aimed to reflect the determination within the industry to maintain the trend towards zero incidents and injuries.
Every exhibitor at Hillhead 2007 was invited to participate in the ‘Designing for Safety’ scheme, with the best entries being displayed in the IQ/QPA’s shared marquee.
Health and safety was also a key theme on the British Aggregates Association stand. The BAA used Hillhead 2007 as the launch pad for a new scheme to certify that quarries are being operated in a safe manner in compliance with the Quarries Regulations 1999. The scheme is expected to become an essential management tool for those quarry operators without access to dedicated health and safety resources. BAA director Robert Durward said member companies who had taken part in pilot trials felt that, in addition to being a useful management tool, the scheme would help improve quarry safety generally. Welcoming its introduction, Dr Phil Smith, principal officer at the HSE, said the BAA scheme was not only well suited to the quarrying industry, but could also prove beneficial to many other industries.
And so, despite the vagaries of the British climate, Hillhead once again reaffirmed its status as the place to do business for the international quarrying, recycling and heavy construction industries. Having beaten the odds and escaped the worst of the weather, this year’s event ended with many visitors and exhibitors eagerly looking forward to the next Hillhead show in 2009 – although no doubt hoping for a bit more sunshine and slightly warmer temperatures! And as if to signal the end of the 2007 show, just as the last of the visitors were leaving on Thursday evening, Hillhead was once again lashed by a torrential downpour, bringing to a timely end the propitious window in the weather that helped to turn what could have been an extremely challenging event for visitors and exhibitors alike into yet another huge success all round.
QMJ Publishing Ltd, the organizers of Hillhead 2007, would like to express their gratitude to Tarmac and the other companies and individuals who helped to make the show such a success. Grateful thanks are also due to Hillhead 2007’s various sponsoring companies.