Dimensions

Bauma is the largest construction machinery trade fair in the world and Liebherr is one of the largest exhibitors. Every three years Liebherr presents innovations, solutions, giants and future trends on an area of 14,500 m². An international audience from all over the world dives into the fascinating world of construction and mining machinery for seven days.

From Bauma to a dream job

Ricardo Dieing just wanted to have a look around at the Bauma trade fair. But the 29-year-old soon found he had landed his dream job with Liebherr, in Ehingen.

“A walk through the Bauma site is a must for me,” says Ricardo Dieing. The 29-year-old construction engineer has visited the world’s largest construction machinery trade fair three times, and each time his path led him to the Liebherr stand. “The large machinery, and especially the cranes, have always captivated me,” he says.

Quite by chance, this time he also spent some time at the careers stand and happened to strike up a conversation with HR manager Stefan Füller. “After I finished my studies, I landed a good job with a major scaffolding construction company, so I wasn’t looking for anything in particular. Two weeks later, Stefan sent me a job description that suited me perfectly,” he recalls.

Dieing started his new job in Ehingen in October. “Likeable colleagues, appealing tasks and a fantastic working environment: I couldn’t have got off to a better start,” he declares.

Steelwork and finite element calculations were particular interests during his studies. “Calculating the structural analysis of a crane grid at the very limits of the material is exciting stuff,” says Dieing.

Was it mere chance or destiny? “I don’t mind either way,” says the young construction engineer. “It’s a great leap forward for me. I’ll never get bored working in crane construction.”

Bauma is part of Liebherr and Lieberr is part of Bauma

Liebherr has been represented at the leading fair for more than 60 years. A lot has changed over the years.

  • 1954
    Bauma opens its doors for the first time as the "spring show for construction machinery".

    Milestones 1954

    Bauma opens its doors for the first time as the "spring show for construction machinery".

  • 1962
    Until 1967 Bauma was still held annually. Then the cycle was changed to every two years and since 1977 Bauma has been held every three years as usual.

    Milestones 1962

    Until 1967 Bauma was still held annually. Then the cycle was changed to every two years and since 1977 Bauma has been held every three years as usual.

  • 1989
    The Liebherr exhibition booth is now already 8,000 square metres in size and presents a total of 60 exhibits.

    Milestones 1989

    The Liebherr exhibition booth is now already 8,000 square metres in size and presents a total of 60 exhibits.

  • 1998
    Liebherr is moving to its current location. At that time the booth covers 10,000 m².

    Milestones 1998

    Liebherr is moving to its current location. At that time the booth covers 10,000 m².

  • 2004
    50 years of Bauma. The leading trade fair for construction machinery has existed for half a century.

    Milestones 2004

    50 years of Bauma. The leading trade fair for construction machinery has existed for half a century.

  • 2010
    An architecturally impressive new exhibition booth is presented - and still in use today.

    Milestones 2010

    An architecturally impressive new exhibition booth is presented - and still in use today.

  • 2013
    The Liebherr logo on the building is an impressive 40 metres wide.

    Milestones 2013

    The Liebherr logo on the building is an impressive 40 metres wide.

  • 2016
    The absolute highlight was the "Match in the hollow". In the 130 m³ loading trough of the T 264 mining truck, players of the German and Austrian national team put on a show match. The Germans won with 3:2.

    Milestones 2016

    The absolute highlight was the "Match in the hollow". In the 130 m³ loading trough of the T 264 mining truck, players of the German and Austrian national team put on a show match. The Germans won with 3:2.

  • That was Bauma 2019

    Passed with flying colours: the emission-free construction site of the future

    The construction site of the future has been successfully tested in Vorarlberg. The electric machines presented by Liebherr at Bauma have paved the way for “local zero emission”. We discuss the results achieved so far with Martin Hofer from the i+R Group, which worked with Liebherr and their start-up Suncar HK to convert the drilling rig LB 16 unplugged – to run on electricity. A world premiere with excellent prospects.

    Mr Hofer, there’s a lot of deep and dirty work on construction sites, especially in foundation engineering. Where do sustainability and energy efficiency come in?

    Sustainability, energy efficiency and resource conservation are just as important on the construction site as they are in the rest of our working lives and environment. After all, this planet is the only one we’ve got. The good news: the "local zero emission" construction site is doable. This is a step in the right direction, especially in densely populated areas where noise and exhaust emissions are a particular concern.

    What experience can you draw on for this?

    We have already converted over 45 compact excavators to run on electricity without cables. The starting point was the world’s first cordless, battery-powered electric excavator, which we built in cooperation with mechanical and electrical engineering students at ETH Zurich.

    You recently collaborated with Liebherr to bring the first local zero emission construction site in foundation engineering to a successful conclusion at the junction of the A14 Bludenz-Bürs in Vorarlberg, Austria. What challenges did you encounter there?

    Bludenz-Bürs was the perfect pilot site for us. It is a very busy junction, with frequent traffic jams and other obstructions. We also had to contend with the very constricted spatial conditions on the construction site, where the excavators, drilling rig and mixing vehicles had to operate in very tight spaces. Liebherr’s LB 16 unplugged, the world’s first battery-powered large rotary drilling rig, was used for the foundation work. We converted the machine within eleven months with the aim of ensuring that there would be no loss of performance or use factors compared to the conventional version. We also used a number of other electric excavators and a Liebherr ETM 905 concrete mixer with an electrically powered drum to supply a large part of the concrete. The results: virtually no local exhaust fumes and significantly less noise.

    Can you imagine implementing this kind of fully electric construction site everywhere?

    Definitely. In principle, we can equip every machine with an electric drive. We would install the electric motor and a correspondingly powerful battery or supercaps in the place where the diesel engine and tank are usually located. Of course, the simplest option is for the manufacturer to deliver a suitably configured basic model from the outset, where there is no need to remove the fossil fuel combustion engine drive train beforehand. This was the case with the LB 16 unplugged.

    What are the particular challenges associated with electrification?

    Electric motor technology is very highly advanced. Major advances have also been made in recent years in the field of lithium ion batteries. Our particular development focus is on battery management. Temperature control plays a crucial role in battery performance. It’s the same as with your mobile phone. If you leave it lying in the blazing sun in your car, the battery will eventually die. Or in the winter, if you let your mobile phone get too cold while you’re skiing, it tends to give up the ghost just when you’re about to take the perfect photo.

    Electrically powered machines will have the edge over conventional combustion engines over the long run, especially when you factor in energy and maintenance costs. There is a large potential for savings here.

    At what point does this type of electric drive start paying for itself?

    The initial costs of purchasing electrically powered, battery operated construction machinery are much higher. However, the machinery has a service output of over 15,000 hours, so from a life-cycle perspective the costs can be recouped after a certain point. Electrically powered machines will have the edge over conventional combustion engines over the long run, especially when you factor in energy and maintenance costs. There is a large potential for savings here.

    You can’t measure the CO2 performance of a construction machine solely on the basis of the emissions it produces. What does the overall CO2 footprint look like?

    Much like the electric car, when it comes to construction machinery we have to look at the big picture and factor in production and supply chains as well as energy consumption when calculating CO2 emissions. The turnaround doesn’t set in until after the electric construction machine has reached around 60 percent of its service life, which is when it becomes CO2-neutral. This is only the case, however, if it runs on electricity generated from clean, renewable sources. If the energy for the electronic drive is supplied by coal-fired power stations, this does us no good whatsoever on the climate front.

    If the local zero emission construction site is already a technical possibility, how long will it take to implement it on a large scale?

    This won’t happen overnight. At present, what we mainly lack is sufficient available capacities in clean, renewable energy sources. Similarly, the grids have not yet been designed to cope with the increased strain associated with a consistent shift towards e-mobility. If everyone tried to charge their e-mobiles and construction machines at the same time one evening, the lights would probably go out all over the country. So there’s still a lot to be done.

    What in particular?

    The technology is in place. However, there will probably not be any decisive changes until the government decides to set a new course by passing appropriate laws and regulations. Take the Netherlands or Norway, for example, where the use of fossil fuels is now being successively barred from rivers and urban construction sites. Incidentally, the coronavirus crisis shows how quickly changes might also be made towards improving sustainability if all the politicians are in agreement.

    Our project with Liebherr has shown that we already have the technology and expertise needed to implement a local zero emission construction site with very good results.

    What are the next steps for the construction site of the future?

    Our project with Liebherr has shown that we already have the technology and expertise needed to implement a local zero emission construction site with very good results. If you annualize the energy and emission balance of the pilot construction site in Bludenz-Bürs, using only electric machinery would bring about savings of about 35,000 litres of diesel fuel and more than 92 tonnes of CO2 emissions on a construction site of this size. In other words, it would definitely be profitable to continue to develop the technological potential of electric drives, batteries and fuel cells. With strong partners like Liebherr, we are well on the way to achieving this. The next few years should be very interesting.

    An excavator’s anniversary tour

    You can tell at a glance that this crawler excavator is a very exceptional model from Colmar. The eye-catching design, the names on the undercarriage and the unusual locations all indicate that this is a true pioneer – the 60,000th Liebherr crawler excavator. If that weren’t enough, it is also a representative of the latest “Generation 8”.

    Crawler excavators and various types of other specialised machinery such as electric excavators, tunnel excavators and demolition excavators have been rolling off our production lines in Colmar, Alsace, since 1961. Liebherr-France SAS was the first Liebherr company to be established in France and has been constantly growing and developing ever since. The anniversary of the 60,000th crawler excavator was not the only major highlight; there was also the novel assembly line where this model’s so-called “wedding” was held. Five million euros were invested to meet the needs of the new generation of crawler excavators with a flexible and dynamic production structure. New assembly stations, pneumatic transport rails, materials supply and logistics, and digital process control all come together to ensure a smooth workflow.

    The guiding principle during the five-year development period has always been ‘‘from market to market’’. This involved maintaining a close dialogue with customers, machine operators and also within the company group with the components division. The results are extremely impressive. The new Generation 8 comprises an initial seven models with an impressive array of features, such as increased engine output for shorter loading cycles, a heavier ballast weight for higher bucket capacities and minimal fuel consumption, which has significantly increased the models’ economic efficiency.

    Back to the anniversary excavator: This special model was presented to our employees in an exclusive ceremony after the wedding and before the roadshow.

    The 60,000th crawler excavator’s unique design

  • The significance of the three colours: blue stands for France, the machine’s country of origin; white symbolises the Liebherr cab; red represents the route the crawler excavators take to customers all over the world.

    The design

    The significance of the three colours: blue stands for France, the machine’s country of origin; white symbolises the Liebherr cab; red represents the route the crawler excavators take to customers all over the world.

  • The heart with the “A” stands for Alsace, where the Liebherr crawler excavators were designed and produced.

    The logo

    The heart with the “A” stands for Alsace, where the Liebherr crawler excavators were designed and produced.

  • The first names of more than 400 Liebherr-France SAS employees have been inscribed on the undercarriage as a token of gratitude and recognition.

    The names

    The first names of more than 400 Liebherr-France SAS employees have been inscribed on the undercarriage as a token of gratitude and recognition.

  • The artist Jean Linnhoff implemented the graphic design at the Colmar site.

    The designer

    The artist Jean Linnhoff implemented the graphic design at the Colmar site.

  • After that, it was time for the crawler excavator to set out on its anniversary tour. The first important stop was, of course, the Bauma trade fair in Munich. Visitors were invited to watch the excavator in action on the test & drive site. After that, the R 922 stopped off at various locations in France, Belgium and Luxembourg, before returning to Colmar for Christmas. The anniversary excavator brought its roadshow to a close in February 2020 and was handed over to a customer from France.

    The best stops in France

    It’s good, if you can make it better

    For Liebherr, Bauma provides a window into the future. History gives us a compass to follow this journey, as technological historian and futurologist Professor Hans-Liudger Dienel from TU Berlin is well aware. Dienel is a professor of Work, Technology and Participation and was for many years the head of the University’s Centre for Technology and Society.

    Professor Dienel, at trade fairs like Bauma, forward thinking is focussed on innovations with the potential to shape the future. What forces do we need to mobilise to achieve this?

    Innovation always requires people. Many years ago, the American technological historian Thomas P. Hughes argued that the time of the great independent inventor was already well past by the first half of the 20th century. Exceptionally gifted inventors like Thomas Alva Edison and Graham Bell destroyed the basis of their own innovative power by creating major technological systems for electricity and telephony, which left no room for “independent inventors”. Hughes, however, was quite mistaken.

    Why?

    There was and still is a strong desire for the creative spirit of an individual who is willing and able to shape the future on their own. There are many examples of this. In 1949, for instance, during reconstruction works after the war, Hans Liebherr developed a mobile tower crane – thus laying the foundations for a global enterprise. Throughout industrial history, inventors and entrepreneurs such as Liebherr have provided convincing confirmation of the recipe for success: the essential ingredients for major change are the right vision, in the right place, at the right time. This still applies to this day, and American IT inventors have been demonstrating the success of the formula since the 1980s.

    Safety, a healthy environment and affordable housing were key factors for participants contemplating their own futures during the Spin & Vision initiative at Bauma. What does this mean for the mindset and transformation ability of a society?

    It reflects the primitive desire for safety embedded in human nature, in terms of which modern man is not so very different from the Neanderthal. However, question marks are beginning to appear on many apparently obvious certainties. In a time of globalisation, digitalisation, climate change and demographic transformation, for the first time in many centuries the younger generation in industrialised western nations are not convinced they are better off than their parents. In fact, they would be happy to feel that they had achieved even half as much in the course of their life’s work. In China or India, the situation is quite different. In those countries, it is still the privilege of the young to say to their elders: “What you’ve achieved is impressive, but you should see this...”

    How has digitalisation changed our view of the world?

    It actually seems to be bringing a real fresh start. Digitalisation is often seen as the second Copernican Revolution, which is beginning to transform our worldview completely. It affects the way in which we interact and communicate and how we integrate technologies, including the nascent possibilities of artificial intelligence, into our world.

    What does this mean for machine construction?

    Digitalisation gives us the ability to shift more and more tasks into the virtual realm. In crane construction, for example, we can use simulations to skip over developmental stages without having to construct a series of prototypes to optimise results. This conserves resources and accelerates the development process. Ultimately, however, it is important to relate digitalisation to the real world, in manufacturing as well as the products themselves. Machine construction in Germany is one of the world’s leading examples of this.

    Can you give us an example?

    The innovative strength and performance capability of our machine industry is demonstrated not only by spectacular new devices, but also by the relatively old vehicle fleets and machinery still in operation across the country. These machines are the result of a development process tailored to the market and to user requirements. Our engineers are intimately familiar with the reality of normal operations, including the often-unexpected challenges users face every day. They keep the repair capacity and maintenance requirements of the machinery in mind right from the start. They truly understand the machines and their use, knowing the importance of reliability, cost and quality. That’s what makes the difference on the global market.

    In light of increasing climate change, calls for sustainability are becoming increasingly vocal. How green is the machine industry?

    In the 19th and early 20th century, German engineers were always driven to some extent by a sense of guilt: “At some point, nature will strike back”. At that time, this was very much in tune with the spirit of German youth and nature movements. The drive to improve technological developments, increase efficiency and optimise the use of resources was thus based not only on economic concerns but also on moral principles

    What were the effects of this?

    The steam engine, for example, was one of the driving forces behind industrialisation – a real best-case story. However, its external combustion system made it very inefficient. This prompted inventors to come up with a solution. To increase its energy efficiency, they moved the combustion system into the cylinder chamber, a process that proved to be extremely complex and demanding. At the time, all these innovations typically originated in Germany: the Otto and Diesel engines, along with the Wankel engine, were designed to generate more power while consuming fewer raw materials. In the 1980s, the “Growian” with a rotor diameter of 100 metres was supposed to set new standards in terms of wind power. While the “giant wind turbine” proved a spectacular failure, it nonetheless inspired engineers to produce rolling bearings of such high quality that they were able to withstand the enormous shear forces of the huge rotors. From the late 2000s onwards, around 25 years after the dismantling of the Growian, systems with the same dimensions and outputs have been produced in large series.

    Where are we likely to be by 2050?

    In this context, it is fascinating to have a look at people’s expectations for the new millennium back in 1970. There was a lot of scepticism in Europe at the time: a belief that in ten years, all the lights would go out. The prophets of doom included not only our own people, but also many economists from other regions. In economies of scale, the enormous economic systems of the US and Japan were about to overtake Europe and marginalise its technological role. And let’s not forget the Club of Rome – even then, scientists were warning of the collapse of the ecosystem, with peak oil predicted for 1985. Horror scenarios like this certainly had an effect, but not entirely for the worse. This kind of prediction inspired innovations aimed at preventing such a dismal future from arriving.

    That sounds rather like poisonous pedagogy. Hurting someone so as to make them more self-aware and inspire self-improvement…

    It’s the so-called Struwwelpeter effect. In Hoffmann’s picture book of short stories from the mid-1800s, this concept was illustrated in drastic terms with badly behaved children having their fingers cut off and even being drowned. The archaic message behind all these stories is that we don’t want to end up like that, so we have to work to avoid it. I think such worst-case scenarios have their good points, if only because they inspire a “now more than ever” response. Now is the time to adopt new ways of thinking and a new narrative, such as the ecological reorganisation of society. Horror scenarios are essential to this process. If we can connect these with positive guiding principles, I see no reason to fear the future. History teaches us that human ingenuity comes into its own in a crisis.

    Liebherr is looking forward to Bauma 2022!

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