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MENAFN - Arab News - 09/03/2010

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(MENAFN - Arab News) The construction exhibition in Jeddah reflects the trend in the Kingdom's current focus on both large scale and local infrastructure projects. The heavy machinery on show divides into housing and local projects and major national infrastructure projects.

With a wealth of heavy earth-moving equipment and road-laying machinery making up the majority of exhibits on one hand and more commonly seen concrete pumps, wheel loaders and heavy trucks on the other, what was oddly absent were tower cranes, an essential part of any high-rise development.

Wulf Flos, product manager for Liebherr, who pioneered the development self-erecting tower crane some 70 years ago and still set the market standard for both static and mobile cranes, said the probable reason for their absence was the cost involved in erecting a show model on site.

"We brought a flat-top tower crane cabin with a full operating suite as a way of showing our industry-standard technology but it is certainly unusual that for such a standard piece of equipment there seems to be little or no representation," he said.

While Liebherr has broadened their engineering base into areas as diverse as mining equipment, refrigeration and even aircraft landing gear, it was their cranes of all varieties that made their name, and to have at least an example of the control cabin was, he thought, essential.

Much of the equipment on show was clearly aimed at the massive infrastructure projects the Kingdom is undertaking. Of particular note is the new land bridge railway project that will link the northwest of the Kingdom with Ras As Zawr and the developing phosphate and bauxite mining projects in the northeast and continue on along the east coast to Ras Tanura. Piling, heavy earth-moving and grading equipment towered over the visitors, giving many a first chance to get up close to machines they only ever see in passing. Many clearly came for the experience of seeing these gargantuan movers and shakers.

Ma'aden, Saudi Arabia's state-owned mining company, has declared mining to be the third pillar of the economy and with the development of the bauxite and phosphate deposits has put their intention to bring that about into play.

"This is just the beginning," opined Flos. "There is a huge potential here for the market to develop and over the next few years we expect a significant demand for top quality and very reliable equipment to meet the expansion of mining."

Liebherr manufactures the mighty crawler bucket-hoes and 350-ton capacity trucks that are used in the strip-mining areas of the Canadian shield and Australia. The Arabian shield offered a similar potential mineral wealth, thought Flos.

"When the development begins in earnest, we will be ready for it," he said.

By Roger Harrison


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