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Monthly Archives: August 2021

Drone, Software Firm Alliance Takes on Large Construction Jobs

A Doosan Group division has joined with automated analytics provider AI Clearing to provide detailed jobsite data for large-scale construction projects. 

The partnership takes advantage of Doosan Mobility Innovation’s hydrogen-powered drones, reportedly the first-of-its-kind. Capable of staying airborne for more than 2 hours, the drones alleviate the need for multiple batteries and launch points required by lithium-ion polymer drones and stay airborne four times longer, says AI Clearing. And when power does get low, the hydrogen tanks can be quickly replaced, allowing the drones to be running again in three minutes. 

Not only are the DMI drones capable of being in the air longer, they can also carry more payload, says Taco Engelaar, chief commercial officer, AI Clearing. “There’s a huge synergy with their drone hardware and our software,” he says. 

For its part, AI Clearing says its artificial intelligence-powered system leverages automation in comparing drone images with schedules and designs, providing teams with full visibility into the work that’s been completed and spot any discrepancies to design.

While drones are commonplace on jobsites, contractors are not getting much value from the data obtained by them, Engelaar says. “The digital surface models don’t really mean much,” he says. AI Clearing’s software uses what he calls a fully automated progress tracking solution that analyzes the drone data along with project design data.

The partnership is targeting large construction projects with this joint effort, including roads, bridges, high-speed rail, solar farm and port construction.

Companies are “increasingly demanding longer flight time,” says Doo Soon Lee, CEO, Doosan Mobility Innovation. “This is the case for sites difficult to access in one flight, sites where efficiency is significantly reduced with battery drones due to large scale, or when you want to perform multiple missions using long flight time.”

Joint AI Clearing/DMI future projects could involve near real-time reporting as the drone flies over a site, something that now takes about a day because of the data processing and analytics involved. “We’re looking at ways to actually install our solution directly onto the drone and then directly transmit our progress analytics in real time,” Engelaar says, taking advantage of the drone’s heavier payload capabilities. 

The joint effort will also focus on R&D with an aim to enable edge computing for construction progress that was previously impossible due to limitations in computing power and the distance capabilities of most drones, AI Clearing says. 

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Product Briefs: Explore Virtual Lift Scenarios with JLG’s Access Your World

JLG has added a new educational module to its virtual training and education portal Access Your World. This third virtual environment features finish and maintenance work taking place within an office environment. In it users can explore a wide range of content on JLG products including low-level access, scissor lifts, atrium lifts and the JLG Augmented reality App.

The other two scenarios include construction tasks on the outside of a stadium, such as site preparation and steel erection work; and truss, fit out and finish work inside the stadium. All three scenarios are designed to illustrate multiple stages of construction and help users better understand specific applications and uses of the equipment.

Soil Connect adds new eTicket functionality


SoilConnectSoil Connect had added a few feature, Quick eTickets, to its eTicket platform that allows users to easily capture customer information, type of truck, destination, pictures, eSignatures, type of material, load count and other types of information in real time on an as-needed basis. The system simplifies the ticketing process for everyone and eliminates administrative expenses. 

“Quick eTickets is for on-the-fly situations that drivers often encounter on a daily basis,” says Cliff Fetner, founder and CEO of Soil Connect.

eTickets is a contactless, e-ticketing platform designed to eliminate the use of paper tickets and allow users to easily capture customer information, type of truck, destination, pictures, eSignatures, type of material, load count and other critical business information.


Extendable trailers meet California haul requirements
Xcalibur Trailer
The Fontaine Xcalibur trailer opens to 90 feet.

Fontaine Heavy-Haul introduced the 53-foot Xcalibur extendable trailer that opens to 90 feet. The new models offer a choice of spring or air suspension.

When the trailers are closed and the sliding axles are in their most forward position, the distance between the kingpin and the rear axle center is less than 40 feet, making these trailers legal to operate in California. A cable management system helps protect telescoping air and electrical lines from damage. Sliding axles are attached to the trailer in a slider box so they move together as a unit.

For greater strength and durability, steel I-Beam crossmembers are welded on 12-inch centers. Steel reinforced main beams, structural steel siderails and steel front & rear skirts complete the heavy-duty design.

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Compact Magni TH U 5.8 Telehandler Designed for Underground Mining

Magni Telescopic Handlers will debut a mining-specific telehandler at MineExpo 2021. The new low-profile telehandler, the TH U 5.8, is a fixed telescopic handler with features specifically designed for underground mining environments.

The TH U 5.8 can safely lift to a height of 26 feet and boasts a lifting capacity of up to 11,000 pounds in a compact 17- by 8-foot frame. The compact frame is built for work in tight situations.

Powered by a Deutz engine, the hydrostatic transmission enables precise movements and maneuverability. For safety, the TH U 5.8 has a braking system designed for use on the steep slopes found in many mines. A 50-ppm catalytic converter filters exhaust from the machine, making the air safer for crews around the telehandler when working in enclosed spaces.

Standard safety features for the TH U 5.8 include a pressurized Magni cab with air filtration, FOPS and ROPS protection, and an extra safety cage that protects the cab from falling objects. Additionally, each Magni TH U 5.8 comes equipped with a load-limiting system that prevents operators from lifting unsafe loads. Emergency stop buttons inside and outside the cab provide additional safety.

The TH U 5.8 is compatible with a wide range of attachments including work platforms, jibs, winches and forks. It is equipped with an RFID system, which enables automatic recognition of attachments and the creation of digital load charts specific to each attachment.

The MineExpo, the world’s largest mining event, will be held September 13-15 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Click here for registration.

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Highway Project with Innovative 90-Degree Box Culvert Wins ACPA Award

A highway project that consisted of innovative concrete pipe work has won a national award.

The Veterans Parkway project in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is the winner of the 2021 Project Achievement Award from the American Concrete Pipe Association.

The $55.6 million six-lane divided-highway project between I-90 and Rice Street involved the placement of:

More than 17,000 feet of Class II, III, IV and V reinforced concrete pipe.680 feet of 60-inch Class IV and Class V RCP jacking pipe.382 feet of box culvert with a 90-degree bend.More than 150 precast inlets and junction boxes.

One of the more innovative aspects of the project involved protecting a historic wooden truss railroad bridge from erosion. To accomplish this, a box culvert was constructed with a 90-degree bend to collect multiple outlet pipes from a detention pond and release them to one location, according to ACPA.

The project also built a drainage system, while not interrupting traffic on I-90, to prevent flooding on the highway. Crews jacked twin 60-inch reinforced concrete pipes under the interstate, which handles about 25,000 vehicles a day, to save time and money.

Hancock Concrete Products of Sioux Falls, HDR Engineering and the South Dakota Department of Transportation collaborated on the project. Their innovative designs also led to cost savings, ACPA says.

“The adaptability and dependability of the reinforced concrete pipe on this project provided a way to solve complex drainage solutions, and Hancock Concrete Products is proud to have contributed to its success,” says Ray Pierson of Hancock Concrete Products. “By choosing concrete pipe, SDDOT has provided taxpayers with a drainage solution with long-term strength, longevity and durability, that’s also produced locally and supports our region’s economy.”

Riley Brothers Construction of Morris, Minnesota, is the contractor on the project. T&R Contracting of Sioux Falls paved the concrete highway’s surface.

ACPA’s Project Achievement Awards recognize agencies that have demonstrated creative and innovative accomplishments through projects that use precast concrete pipes or boxes.

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Hurricane Ida Closes Roads; DOT Scrambles to Reopen Them

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development is removing downed trees and power lines and clearing debris from blocked roads throughout the southeastern section of the state in the wake of Hurricane Ida.

Louisiana DOTD crews clear I-10 near the Sorrento exit following Hurricane Ida.Louisiana Department of Transportation & DevelopmentThe storm made landfall at Port Fourchon, Louisiana, on August 29 as a Category 4 hurricane and has led to closing 152 roads in the state, including sections of Interstate 10, according to the LDOTD’s road closure map on August 30.

“We are clearing paths but lots of trees and lines,” the agency tweeted.

Hurricane Ida flooding I-10 Louisiana
Floodwaters cover I-10 at exit 209 in Laplace, Louisiana.Louisiana Department of Transportation & DevelopmentAs of August 30, the agency reported that driving conditions were still dangerous, and many roads were flooded. The DOT urged people to stay off the roads so they can keep them clear for emergency responders.

St. Bernard Parish is among the hardest-hit areas. The local government posted this security camera video on its Facebook page to show how quickly water rose in one hour at Fire Station 12 in Delacroix:

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This 1958 Unit Cable Backhoe Still “Runs Good” After 7-Year Restoration

A post popped up on an online forum on the Historical Construction Equipment Association’s website.

“Unit backhoe for sale,” it read. “It runs good.”

“And that’s all it says,” recalls Cliff Bridgford of the post that came up about 20 years ago. “I didn’t pay much attention to that.”

Six or so months before, Cliff had been at an antique engine show in Connecticut when a collector arrived with a 5/8-yard Unit 617 with a backhoe attachment, also called a trenchhoe, pullshovel or hoe.

“I’ve always wanted one of these, ever since I was a kid,” Cliff told his friend Ed.

“I know this guy who’s got two of them,” Ed replied. “I don’t have his name with me, but I’ll get back to you.”

The late-1950s cable shovels had been a common sight when Cliff was growing up in New Hampshire, just before hydraulic equipment began to take over. He recalls getting a toy Unit 357 shovel as a boy. “It came with a clamshell and crane hook and boom,” he says. “And I ended up making all the different attachments for it with my Erector Set.”

Unit shovels can trace their history back to Henry Ford’s brother William, who formed the Wilford Shovel Company in Detroit in 1925. It became the Universal Power Shovel Company in 1927. A year later, Universal was acquired by Unit Corporation of America. The shovel segment of the company was sold in 1937 and continued as the Unit Crane & Shovel Corporation.

Two Units for the price of one 

A few months after Cliff’s talk with Ed, Ed called back with the Units’ owner’s phone number. When Cliff called, he learned the machines had already been sold.

A few months later, he was on the HCEA forum when the Unit backhoe post appeared.

After Cliff dismissed the post, someone else joined the forum.

“You know,” the post read, “it’d be a lot easier to sell your Unit backhoe if you told us where the thing was.”

The owner then responded with his contact information, and several months later, Cliff was in New York having a look at the machines. Turns out, the same Unit machines his friend Ed told him about were now with the owner in New York – a 1955 Unit 357 shovel and a 1958 Unit 614 backhoe.

“So this was the guy that bought the machines from the guy that Ed had talked to, which was really kind of remarkable,” Cliff recalls.

The Unit 357 shovel wouldn’t start, but the Unit 614 backhoe would. “It didn’t run good at all,” Cliff says. “But it ran.”

The owner gave Cliff a reasonable price for the Unit 614 backhoe, but Cliff wasn’t sure about it. He really wanted the Unit 357 shovel. He said he’d think about it, and started to leave.

“Wait a minute,” the owner said. “I’ll tell you what. If you really want the shovel, I’ll sell you both of the machines for the price of the one.”

“My two treasures” 

When the Units were delivered to his home in Litchfield, New Hampshire, he focused on restoring the Unit 614 backhoe, since it still ran.

“I basically took pretty much everything off the machine that I could lift off,” he says.

He overhauled the engine, a 2-cylinder Detroit Diesel 2-71, made new control linkages and bushings. He overhauled the clutches. He performed all the welding, machining and mechanical repair. He sandblasted and painted it.

He restored it over seven years, after work, on weekends and on days off.

“It came out pretty decent,” he says. “Not too bad for a one-man restoration.”

It made its debut at the 2007 national show of the Historical Construction Equipment Association at the Zagray Farm Museum in Connecticut. A friend who is an expert operator taught him how to run it. The 614 still resides at the museum, where Cliff brings it out for three shows a year.

Cliff Bridgford restored his 1958 Unit backhoe by himself over a seven-year period.Submitted by Cliff BridgfordLearning to operate it took some time. He had run equipment in his teens for a residential contractor. He later graduated from diesel engine mechanic school. He was drafted and served as a mechanic in Vietnam during the war. After the war, he opened his own auto transmission business, which he operated for 45 years.

“I never lost my fondness for construction equipment,” he says.

But he had never operated the cable machines. The 614 has a fixed-angle, half-yard bucket. The machine weighs about 15 tons.

A drag cable is used to pull the bucket in to dig. A hoist cable raises the boom and bucket. That’s controlled by two clutches and two brakes. A swing clutch is used to swing left and right.

“They’re a pretty quick, efficient machine,” Cliff says. “It’s actually faster than any 1958 hydraulic backhoe was.”

Over the years, Cliff learned to operate the 614 efficiently, but he doesn’t consider himself an expert.

“A hydraulic excavator is a lot easier to operate,” he says. “If you were running a hydraulic excavator, and all of a sudden you got confused and you let go of all your controls, the thing would just stop right where it was. The bucket would remain in the air.

“If you got confused on a cable machine, gravity’s going to take over.”

The bucket comes crashing down.

“There’s a lot more skill involved in a cable machine.”

Unit 357 shovel Cliff Bridgford
Cliff Bridgford with his 1955 Unit 357 shovel at his home in New Hampshire.Submitted by Cliff Bridgford 


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Vermeer Vac Truck Designed for Repetitive Excavation Tasks

Vermeer added a new midsize model to its truck-mounted vacuum excavator line with the introduction of the VXT300 truck vac. Outfitted with an eight-cubic-yard spoils tank and a six-inch dig tube, the new vacuum excavator can carry up to 800 gallons of water.

With an overall height of 11.5 feet, the new machine is one of the lightest truck vacs on the market and is designed for contractors who drill multiple holes per setup and need large volumes of drilling fluid. The VXT300 also represents a new generation of vac trucks for Vermeer which will replace the VXT8 Mega series.

A Kenworth T370 truck chassis with a 350-horsepower diesel engine and 6-speed 3000 RDS Allison transmission undergird the vacuum system. The truck’s PTO powers a Roots 624 vacuum blower that generates a maximum flow of 3,500 cfm and suction pressure of 18 inches/mercury. For crew efficiency, the PTO also allows the vac to keep running while repositioning the truck between holes on jobs where multiple holes are being excavated.

The spoils tank cam-over-hydraulic door and in-tank washout keep things clean with the VXT300. Optional features include a winter package with a water heater as well as an onboard PTO driven air compressor.

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Product Roundup: Deere Forges Agreement on Towed Scrapers

John Deere has announced a master supply agreement with Mobile Track Solutions, to develop Deere-branded towed scrapers to be distributed through John Deere’s construction and agriculture dealer networks. Through the agreement, Mobile Track Solutions will supply greater than 27 cubic yard capacity towed scrapers to be used with John Deere 460E-II articulated dump trucks and 9R series scraper tractors.

Deere now manufactures 10 models of 15 to 24-cubic-yard heaped capacity towed scrapers.

The John Deere-branded scrapers will be compatible with its new technology solutions, including an earthmoving productivity system, which debuted at ConExpo 2020. The new technology offerings will include obstacle intelligence and rear object detection, SmartWeigh, SmartAttach and a new scraper earthmoving productivity system.

Husqvarna debuts new saw and battery platform

Husqvarna’s new battery system will match power outputs of gasoline-based models.Husqvarna

Shown at the World of Concrete, the Husqvarna usqHK1 PACE concrete saw is equipped with a new PACE battery system and an X-Halt brake function capable of stopping the rotation of a blade in a fraction of a second for enhanced safety. The PACE battery system that powers the K1 saw will also be used in additional Husqvarna products to come. The saw’s diamond blades in 12- and 14-inch sizes have been optimized for battery operation. 

Tadano upgrades cranes

Mobile crane manufacturer Tadano has upgraded its four-axle and five-axle cranes in the 110- to 130-ton (US) class. The maneuverable AC 4.110-1 now has a larger lifting capacity without any changes to its total weight – thanks to a new and stronger boom that is also part of the five-axle AC 5.120-1. As part of its reorganization efforts, Tadano will be standardizing the names of its mobile crane models throughout the year. The new AC 4.110-1 and AC 5.120-1 come with updated names from the start.


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Cat Teams with Champion Iron to Develop Autonomous Drill-to-Mill System

Caterpillar and Champion Iron have signed a letter of intent to develop advanced drilling technologies based on artificial intelligence.

Over time the two companies intend to develop a remote-controlled and fully autonomous Cat electric drilling fleet to create a “drill-to-mill” system that will automate the entire process from drilling to loading to hauling to the mill. Once implemented, the process will increase efficiency and lower costs at the drilling and blasting site, the loading and haul segments and downstream processing.

Champion is a Canadian mining company and through its subsidiary Quebec Iron Ore, owns and operates the Bloom Lake Mining Complex, an iron ore mine located near Fermont, Québec. Caterpillar’s independent dealer, Toromont Cat, will provide aftermarket support for the collaboration.

Caterpillar’s integrated technology will use real-time data, artificial intelligence and analytics, to assess the status of machines, technologies, and material to enable more timely and accurate operational decisions and consistent execution across Champion’s mining value chain. The goal is to deliver a fully integrated technology solution powered by data connectivity and advanced analytics. This will improve workflow between the mine and plant and provide a more efficient end-to-end process that delivers more consistent raw material.

These 5 Road Projects in the Northeast Win Awards

Five road projects have won awards from the Northeast Association of State Transportation Officials.

The winners are as follows:

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation — Ohiopyle Multimodal Gateway project (Quality of Life/Community Development, Small category) (See photo at the top of this story.)

To address safety concerns and increased congestion, the New Hampshire Department of Transportation completed a $177.5 million project that improved the Spaulding Turnpike from Exit 1 in Newington, across the Little Bay Bridges, to Dover.New Hampshire DOTNew Hampshire Department of Transportation — Spaulding Turnpike Improvements (Quality of Life/Community Development, Medium category)

New Jersey road shoulder installation Route 1
The $25 million Route 1 Permanent Hard Shoulder Running Project overseen by the New Jersey Department of Transportation improved safety, increased emergency access, increased capacity and travel reliability, and cut commute times by up to 50 percent.New Jersey DOTNew Jersey Department of Transportation — Route 1 Permanent Hard Shoulder Running project (Operations Excellence, Small category)

Margaret Rose Henry Bridge Delaware
The Delaware Department of Transportation alleviated traffic congestion and created more transportation options for a Wilmington community by constructing the $82 million Senator Margaret Rose Henry Bridge.Delaware DOTDelaware Department of Transportation — Margaret Rose Henry Bridge and Approach Roads project (Operations Excellence, Medium category)

Interstate 93 expansion New Hampshire
The New Hampshire Department of Transportation widened a 20-mile segment of I-93. The $755 million project has improved safety and traffic flow.New Hampshire DOTNew Hampshire Department of Transportation — I-93 Expansion project (Operations Excellence, Large category)

This is the second of four regional contests within the national America’s Transportation Awards competition. The three highest-scoring projects from each regional competition earn a place on a “Top 12” list of projects, which will compete for the Grand Prize – selected by an independent panel of industry judges – and the People’s Choice Award, chosen by the public through online voting.

The top two winners also receive $10,000 cash awards, to be donated to a charity or scholarship of the state DOT’s choosing.

The “Top 12 finalists” vying for the Grand Prize and People’s Choice awards will be announced in September, with online voting for the People’s Choice award beginning at the same time.

The winners of both Grand Prize and People’s Choice awards will be announced in October at the AASHTO Annual Meeting in San Diego.

The awards are sponsored by AASHTO, AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.




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