Pick up the remote control, flip the switch, and the little green machine comes alive, skittering across the floor like a low-flying alien spacecraft or a high-tech dual-head lawnmower. Is this some toy maker's demonstration? a convention of wireless enthusiasts? No, it was the 2005 World of Concrete in Las Vegas this past January.
The Tibroc CF-40 radio controlled power trowel, one of the winners in this year's Most Innovative Products contest, attracted crowds throughout the week-long event. But that was only one of 69 entries in this third MIP contest, sponsored by CONCRETE & MASONRY CONSTRUCTION PRODUCTS. The contest was developed to highlight new and exciting products at the concrete industry's largest tradeshow.
This year we included several new categories, including four computer and software categories representing the new Technology for Construction (TFC) pavilion at the show. Residential Concrete was also added to showcase products that are designed specifically for the higher-end, decorative uses of concrete in the residential environment.
Voting this year was vigorous; nearly a thousand votes were cast. Those of you who filled out the ballot at the show received the new World of Concrete 2005 lapel pin. Many of you also voted online, where ballots jumped more than 200% over last year. At the same time, a panel of industry experts reviewed the products and cast the Experts' Choice votes (see sidebar).
All of the products can still be viewed at www. worldofconcrete.com, but the winners represent the best of the best.
The spotlight shone brightly on the Tibroc trowel, which captured the Attendee's Choice in the Placing & Finishing Equipment category.
Other stand-out winners included the Speed Clip, by Con Tie Inc., which you selected as the Attendee's Choice in Concrete Supplies. The Speed Clip appeared to win on its simplicity; it ties rebar by hand in as little as a second. The company expects it will manufacture more than a billion of these handy little wire ties this year.
In the Producers Center, Concrete Washout Systems takes home both the Attendees' and Experts' Choice for Production Equipment. It is more than just a roll-off bin for concrete washout, it is a system for the recycling of what would otherwise be waste material. It presents ways to remove material from the waste stream and return it to a profit stream.
Holcim's Cement Online also won dual prizes from attendees and experts in the TFC category Business & Executive Management Software. The Web-based resource presents local and international information on cement issues.
While all the products were impressive, the following is a breakdown of the winners in each category.
Site Preparation Equipment: Hilti's accurate laser tool
The Hilti PD 32 Laser Range Meter provides fast, accurate measurements with the effortless touch of a button, and it fits in a pocket, pouch, or tool bag. Aim the laser and press the button, and the unit immediately displays the distance of up to 600 feet with a pinpoint accuracy. It enables one person to take highly accurate and access-free distance measurements. It's great for estimating job sizes and measuring concrete pour volumes. The unit adds and subtracts distances. It also features minimum/maximum and Pythagorean functions, a vertical bubble level, side-measuring key, and built-in optical sight. Hilti Inc, 800-879-8000, www.us.hilti.com.
Loegering's Versatile Track system
The Loegering Versatile Track system allows you to operate your skidsteer with tires or as a full rubber track undercarriage, depending on your need. Converting your skid-steer into a compact track loader takes less than an hour. The machine still has a smooth ride and excellent traction, with increased power. An independent bi-directional torsion suspension provides better operator comfort, with more traction and stability. The VTS is available on a variety of machines, with wheelbases from 42 to 51 inches. Loegering Mfg., 800-373-5441, www.loegering.com.
Concrete Placing Equipment & Finishing Tools: Tibroc's radio-controlled concrete finishing tool
The Tibroc CF-40 is a radio-controlled power trowel that can finish a concrete slab flatter than a walking power trowel without setting foot on the slab. The sturdy machine weighs only 85 pounds and finishes a width of 40 inches. It operates with two joysticks, but is easier to control than a child's toy; an experienced concrete finisher can easily control the pitch of the blades and the rpms of each of the motors. All components are cut on computer numeric control equipment for consistent fit on every trowel. White Cap Construction Supply, 800-944-8322, www.whitecapdirect.com.
Wacker's ergonomic power trowel
The CT series walk-behind power trowels are a new concept in concrete finishing. Six patent-pending features enhance operator safety and control. A gyroscopic safety sensor stops the engine when the operator releases the handle. The trowels are dynamically balanced, significantly reducing the force required for control, which reduces operator fatigue. Other features include a gearbox break, an engine rev-limiter for safety, and bike-style handles for operating comfort. Wacker Corp, 800-770-0957, www.wackergroup.com.