A KEANE EYE: Concrete progress on a green future

Nevertheless, both sides of the show do a good job of getting genuine prospects through the gate.Although the show only opened this morning, Volvo and Mack (another successful mixed marriage) got the jump with a preview last night and there was (drum roll please) a world first!The Mack Granite 8×4 concrete agitator is the first production mixer anywhere in the world to meet US EPA 2010 emission levels, which are not expected in Australia until 2016. However, Boral made a commitment to building its environmental credentials in 2006 and chose Mack as the partner to make this happen with its concrete agitators.The result is proof that Mack (and for that matter Volvo) retains a strong engineering presence in Australia that sees world-class vehicles produced to meet Australian market requirements.The secret to the impressive emission performance is the 300hp Cummins Westport ISL-G engine that reduces particulate matter levels and nitrous oxides by 92% and 90% respectively, when compared to current Australian requirements.It’s one thing to achieve the emission levels and another to be a practical fleet truck. Happily Boral’s testing indicates that it ticks both boxes with the five CNG tanks allowing it to complete a shift without refuelling, and the payload (6.8cu.m) being comparable to other 8×4 trucks in the fleet. Although the boast seems pale by comparison, the truck is the first 8×4 Granite model in the world, and clever design with a set back axle and curved front bumper and guards allows the Granite to operate in the same working envelope as a Mack Metroliner.Perhaps the only disconcerting thing about the truck was Boral’s hippy paint scheme for the agitator – for someone with a queasy stomach the sight of that bowl turning slowly might be just enough to push them over the edge!The green theme didn’t start and end with the gas Granite – Volvo displayed a hybrid drive system that is in use overseas on two waste collection vehicles. Many in the construction industry would be aware that Volvo has a hybrid wheel loader in the pipeline which, like the waste collection vehicle, has frequent stop-start cycles that provide the opportunity to regenerate considerable braking energy. This driveline is not expected in Australia for a couple of years.Of more immediate impact is a dual-control, side-loading waste collection vehicle that claims to be Australia’s “cleanest, quietest, safest” waste truck. The “cleanest” comes from the Euro 5 engine that produces 43% less nitrous oxides than the current Euro 4 regulations; the “quietest” comes from a noise-reducing compression brake system; and “safest” – well that’s a big part of what Volvo built its name on.For construction contractors, the Brisbane Truck & Machinery Show should have as much interest for its trucks as for its earthmoving equipment. It has national significance in the way that no construction field day does, and the manufacturers are willing to display what they have on the drawing boards as well as what you can put a deposit on today. With most earthmoving engines being derived from truck engines, the show gives a good idea of where construction engines are heading.And let’s not forget – the construction industry is also a big user of trucks. The investment allowance has probably got traditional used truck buyers now considering a new truck, so how good is it to see the lot in one place?

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