FINAL preparations are underway for Plantworx 2019, with a host of new features – and a new venue – tipped to wow visitors and exhibitors alike.
It would be fair to say Plantworx 2017 didn’t enjoy the best of luck. Heavy rain resulted in challenging conditions to say the least at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground and was one of the reasons behind the decision to move the exhibition to the East of England Arena and Events Centre in Peterborough.
The expanded show, which will also incorporate Railworx for the first team, will feature machines from some of the world’s largest manufacturers when it returns for its fourth edition from June 11-13.
New additions this year include a classic plant display, a simulation zone and a dedicated area for drone demonstrations, reflecting the growing role they are playing in the construction industry.
Rob Oliver, chief executive of the Construction Equipment Association (CEA) told Project Plant, “Because we’ve moved to a new venue that is a permanent exhibition site, we’ve been able to include some additional features this time around. For example, we’ve got a simulation zone where we’re linking up training to simulators that can simulate a construction site’s working conditions. We’re inviting people to try out driving machines without leaving the comfort of their simulator seat. We think that will be quite fun and instructive to people thinking of maybe taking up a career within the plant industry.
“We’re also turning the clock back a few years with a classic plant display. Peterborough is unique in that the site actually has a speedway track right in the middle of it; that’s going to be a great position to put our display of classic plant going back beyond 1990 into the 80s and 70s. We’ll have a parade of working equipment around the speedway track. They won’t quite get up to the speed of the bikes but should be a nice attraction!”
As with previous Plantworx exhibitions, Day Three will see the event team up with Primary Engineer, an organisation which encourages schools to work on engineering-related projects. Pupils from schools in the local area will have the opportunity to showcase some of the projects they’ve been working on in a feature which also serves as an opportunity to introduce young people to the plant sector and perhaps get them thinking about a future carer in the sector.
“We’ve also teamed up with Hugh Edeleanu of Diggerland fame,” Rob added. “Hugh is going to bring a little taste of Diggerland to the show on that third day. Some of our young and not so young people can have a try out on some of the machines as well. We’re quite excited by that addition.
“The other thing we’re doing, because technology is moving on, is we’ve dedicated 2,000 square metres to a drone area for drone displays. Now that drones are being used for surveying and other aspects of the construction industry, we think that’s going to be a good feature. Usually when you see drone displays at shows they’re in small, restricted areas, but we’re able to give over an entire 2,000 square metre hall.
“We will also have a dedicated area to skills education and employment training. We’re calling that the Get Set zone. We’ve got some colleges involved in that, other training providers, and some presentations being organised on the floor of the show to give people some briefings about what’s available in that area. In particular, from the CEA’s point of view, we’ve teamed up to offer some upskilling courses in various areas of technology because we’re working with the National Fluid Power Centre.
“We’ve also of course, since the last Plantworx, had our two Trailblazer apprenticeship standards recognised. That’s to do with machine maintenance and service, so we’ll be promoting those too for people interested in upskilling or joining the industry for the first time.
“The other big thing is we’ve teamed up with contacts in the rail industry so we’ve got Railworx running alongside Plantworx. That’s really concentrating on the explosion of investment in civil engineering around rail. Of course, HS2 is the biggest project in Europe at the moment.”
Rob spent ten days in Munich earlier this year at bauma 2019. He says the “pretty astonishing” number of visitors in attendance shows the appetite for plant shows remains as strong as ever. Plantworx was founded with a view to give people in the industry the chance to see machines being put through their paces.
“We haven’t quite reached the full Internet age where everything is done online,” Rob added. “I think particularly the operators want to be able to feel a machine rather than just see it on the Internet.”
Just under 400 exhibitors attended the previous Plantworx exhibition. At the time of interview, Rob said that, combined with Railworx, this year’s figures will be “well over 450”.
One of the more surprising exhibitors will be the Department for International Trade. Rob said they will be highlighting opportunities to sell construction and mining equipment overseas.
He listed digitisation as likely to be one of the main themes this year.
“Digitisation over the past three of four years has grown at such a pace now that some companies that maybe haven’t been active in the construction equipment space are now really part of the service side of it,” he explained. “There will be a number of new companies in that area.”
Rob also expects a number of standout machines and new techniques that were shown for the first time at bauma to make their way to Peterborough. The environmental side of things will also feature prominently.
“I think you’ll see more electric equipment, which has moved on even in the two years since the last Plantworx,” he said. “On the environment side too, as the CEA we’ll be formally launching a new scheme that we have which helps with the identification of construction equipment used on low emission zone sites. This is a practical initiative to help site managers monitor what sort of equipment and the compliance levels of that equipment is coming onto their sites.”
Turning his attention to the new site, Rob doesn’t anticipate any of the issues which blighted the event two years ago.
“Anyone who attended the last Plantworx at Bruntingthorpe will know that we had three days pretty much of continuous rain and that really put some stress on the show and the infrastructure there,” he recalled. “By moving to Pegterborough, because that is a permanent site, it means it’s a little bit more weather-proof but also gives us the opportunity of permanent indoor exhibition area and conference area. Even things like permanent loos are important because previously at our venues, because they were greenfield sites, we had to bring everything in. There’s much more hard standing too, so the pathways should be a lot easier. If the weather is against us this time, we’re going to be better prepared.”