11 April 2008
What are the main priorities for your term as CECE president?
“Over the last 12 months we've been working to change the way CECE operates. We have just established a streamlined management process, which has replaced the two tier structure with a single steering group. The aim of that is to speed up the way we recognise and address issues.
“The second is the CONEQT initiative – CECE's roadmap for European legislation. We have made a lot of progress in producing a document and presenting that to the Commission and vice-president Günter Verheugen. We now want the European Council and Parliament to take up the initiative and ensure the Commission works on the issues we have raised.
“The third area is to work on intercontinental co-operation with the other construction equipment manufacturers' associations around the world. There would be a lot of benefits to us as manufacturers as well as to our customers if we could establish more harmonised global standards for construction equipment.
“Finally we are supporting the setting up of an equipment manufacturers' trade association in Russia, which will come under the umbrella of CECE. Russia is a massive and growing market, and it is important we are engaged with it.”
What exactly is the CONEQT initiative?
“The construction equipment industry in Europe has never before had a forward-looking framework for legislation. We“ve tended to tackle new laws as they“ve come, and looked at them in isolation. That has caused problems with timing – with the noise and exhaust emission directives for example the industry ended up having to incorporate two major new requirements separately, a year apart instead of doing a single round of machine updates.
“CONEQT looks at safety and environmental challenges, and suggests a more coherent approach to legislation for the sector, and is a win-win for the regulators, the industry and ultimately equipment buyers and users.”
One of the key areas in CONEQT is the need to harmonise European laws governing the driving of construction equipment on public roads. What are the issues here?
“The frustration in the industry is that safety objectives, such as restricting the movement of booms and highlighting the corners of buckets, are achieved in different ways with individual national laws throughout Europe. There are other trivial seeming things, such as the specific size of speed limit decals, which are different from country to country.
“If we can achieve all those safety requirements with a common standard, it would mean that a machine could be homologated in one country and then be used anywhere in Europe. That is important to manufacturers, because we have to get all the individual homologations, but it also applies to contractors and rental companies in border areas, because at the moment their machines can only be homologated for one country.
“In other sectors there are common European standards. Agricultural tractors are homologated in a single country for EU-wide use, as are cars of course, and we have made recommendations in CONEQT along the lines of the tractor single type approval process.”
Engine emissions legislation has been, and will continue to be, a major challenge for the industry. What is the next step and what are the implications?
“In Stage IIIB there will be a big reduction in particulates (PM) and some in NOx, and then in Stage IV there will be a big reduction in NOx.
“On engines over 100 hp (75 kW) there will be a need for very efficient particulate filters and exhaust after- treatment. The base systems are in use in the truck industry, but the duty cycles in construction equipment are very different, so they will need to be adapted. The other challenge is that as machine designers we're going to have to make space for these within our equipment.
“Under 75 kW, the aim is to develop combustion systems that enable the use of less sophisticated, and therefore cheaper filters. That is being driven by engine combustion technology, rather than filter technology.
“The industry will have to put a lot more electronics into the machines to achieve Stage IIIB and Stage IV and manufacturers will certainly be looking at ways of using this technology to improve overall performance. It opens up areas for potential innovation for the transfer of energy from the engine to hydraulic systems and so on.”
Finally, the European equipment market has been booming. Do you see this buoyancy continuing?
“Over the last two years the industry has been strong more or less everywhere in Europe. Before that it was good, but a little patchy. I think the coming years will see a return to that, with demand generally good, but weak in one or two countries.”