Having a blast at Hillhead

Dominic Browne

Hillhead is a unique centrepiece of the highways calendar. This is the largest show of its kind in the world, where heavyweight quarrying, construction and recycling kit is brought to life.

From 25-27 June, the Hillhead quarry will become a small town, a pulsing hive of activity, where visitors move like ants between the big beasts of the sector – excavators, wheel loaders, ADTs, crushers, screeners and more.

With material blasted in advance for the demonstrations, the plant on display are given a real job site to work with: this year there will be a squared-off quarry face area with two large elevated levels for the live demos, and ‘Crusher Alley’ where the blasted rock is processed. A pre-show explosives blast produced around 20,000 tonnes of run-of-quarry stone in preparation for the event.

To give you some idea of the size of the operation, this bi-annual show is expecting some 20,000 visitors this year and international giants of the industry are showing off enormous machines, like Hyundai, which will have a 100-tonne excavator on display.

The event itself is also being expanded. The showground pavilion has increased in size by almost a third to accommodate a further 30-40 exhibitors and a new food court area will be installed. There is also more room in the demonstration area.

And, as Richard Bradbury, event director, says, alongside the ‘wow factor of the big machines’ there is now also the tech factor and the increasing digitalisation of the sector on display.

‘From telemetry solutions to machine control, drones, AI-driven safety, and the latest advanced 3D site management and modelling, the connected site will really come alive this year. And thanks to our continued investment in the wi-fi connectivity, we will have live data feeds from our demonstrations on site,’ he says.

‘The autonomous truck demo with Bell Equipment will be a real eye-opener this year, We are also a showcase for electric-powered machines, some of which will feature in our live demonstrations for the first time. I am most looking forward to seeing autonomous demonstrations and the increasing use of electric-powered material processing (SBM, Evoquip etc) and mobile plant. The SMT stand shows their journey to electrification and JCB is also promoting its hydrogen proposition.’

Mr Bradbury tells Highways about the main changes at Hillhead over its 42 years: ‘It has expanded significantly from around 100 exhibitors at its first edition to 600 with extensive development across the site to expand the showground outdoors.

The show is also now more international with many OEMs using the platform for European launches. Whilst there is a core quarrying element, the event has expanded to encompass a wider range of construction including brownfield and infrastructure. We have introduced more demonstration areas and the show has grown to four areas now.

‘We have more catering, seating and toilet facilities this year than ever before, as well as new hydration stations for people to fill up their water bottles with cool, filtered water free of charge. And we have put more investment in internet provision with a fibre optic system for exhibitors ducted around the site.’

Hillhead has four separate demonstration areas:

Quarry Face – three benches spanning the length of the quarry face will host over 35 machines including excavators, wheel loaders, dumptrucks, dozers, cold planers, hydraulic breakers, screening buckets and mist cannons.

Rock Processing – also known as ‘Crusher Alley’ where a range of tracked and skid-mounted crushers, screens, scalping grids and stockpiling conveyors can be viewed.

Recycling – located to the south of the exhibition site, this area shows a range of specialist crushers, shredders, screens and washing equipment.

Registration – this area hosts rock processing and recycling demonstrations.

Find out more and register for FREE here.

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