Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update:

Coast Guard
Port Access Route Study: Northern New York Bight
The Coast Guard announced it is conducting a Port Access Route Study (PARS) for port approaches to New York and New Jersey and international and domestic transit.  One big concern: “planned or potential offshore development.”  That sounds like offshore wind farms – a high priority for many east coast governors.  The study will evaluate existing vessel routing measures and whether additional routing measures are necessary.  Navigation challenges include current port capabilities and planned improvements, increased vessel traffic, existing and potential anchorage areas, changing vessel traffic patterns, effects of weather, or navigational difficulty. Vessel routing measures, which include traffic separation schemes, two-way routes, recommended tracks, deep-water routes, precautionary areas, and areas to be avoided, are implemented to reduce the risk of marine casualties. The recommendations of the study may subsequently be implemented through rulemakings or in accordance with international agreements.  Public comments must be received on or before August 28, 2020.

Federal Railroad Administration
Magnetic Levitation Deployment Projects
FRA has $2 million available to help advance capital project costs and preconstruction planning activities for the deployment of magnetic levitation transportation projects.  This is money earmarked for the “Maglev Project Selection Program,” part of the current federal transportation bill known as SAFETEA-LU.  Project applications are due July 31, 2020.  Eligible projects must: (1) Involve a segment or segments of a highspeed ground transportation corridor; (2) result in an operating transportation facility that provides a revenue producing service; (3) and be approved by the Secretary based on an application submitted to the Secretary of Transportation by a State or authority designated by one or more States.  These funds are to directly advance and result in the construction of a Maglev project.  Some preliminary corridor work has started in the DC to New York to Boston market and apparently in Pennsylvania, in the Pittsburgh region.  Stay tuned.

NOAA – illegal, unreported, or unregulated (IUU) fishing
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) seeks information regarding nations whose vessels are engaged in illegal, unreported, or unregulated (IUU) fishing, bycatch of protected living marine resources (PLMR), and/or fishing activities in waters beyond any national jurisdiction that target or incidentally catch sharks. Such information will be reviewed for the purposes of the identification of nations pursuant to the High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act (Moratorium Protection Act) and ongoing implementation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act Import Provisions. Information is due on or before December 31.  This information will advise NMFS’ seventh biennial report to Congress on IUU fishing.  The report will identify nations whose fishing vessels are engaged in IUU fishing and/or shark catch.  This is part of a larger environmental mission to safeguard sea turtles, marine mammals and wild flora and fauna.  If you see something, say something.

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From Plows to Shovels to Lasers, AEM Hall of Fame Inventors Altered the Course of History

As the deadline draws near for new AEM Hall of Fame inductees, the Hall continues its search for as-yet-unrecognized inventors whose contributions to the equipment manufacturing industry also contributed to the course of history. While considering who should be nominated, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) looks to inspire by recalling inventors already in the AEM Hall of Fame.

If these stories inspire you to nominate someone for their contributions to the equipment manufacturing industry, submit your nomination by clicking here before June 12, 2020.

Continuous Track Drive Changed How We Get from Here to the Most Difficult There (Benjamin Holt)

In a day and age where a steam-powered tractor could produce sixty brake horsepower, but weigh 24 tons when fully loaded for duty, anything but the most compacted, solid soil could prove a traction nightmare.

By the time Benjamin Holt got to thinking about how to solve this problem, the concept of using a flat piece of material to spread the weight of a machine’s wheel to improve traction was more than sixty years old. From James Boydell’s “dreadnought wheel,” to John Fowler’s “endless railway,” to Alvin Lombard’s “Steam Log Hauler,” the idea to rotate something around a wheel to improve its traction was there.

What wasn’t there was a design that worked on any and every type of surface, especially the softer soils found around Holt’s home in Stockton, Calif.

After buying and improving a patent from Hornsby and Sons with a smarter design and better materials, Holt and company tested his “track layer” in the wheat fields of Stockton in 1904 to complete success.

During the trials, Holt Manufacturing Company photographer Charles Clements mentioned to Holt his design crawled like a “caterpillar.”

The Invention of Modern Construction Began with a Better Hole in the Ground (William Smith Otis)

Somewhere in the archives of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Va. sits patent number 1,089, issued in the year 1839, to a 26-year-old civil engineer from Philadelphia, for a “crane-excavator for excavating and removing earth.” We know this invention better today as “the steam shovel.”

Otis had assembled the first prototype four years prior in Canton, Mass. to assist in the construction of a railway line between Norwich and Worcester, Mass. for the Western Railroad. His invention would go on to allow for the creation of everything from the Transcontinental Railroad, to Route 66, to the Panama Canal.

Unfortunately, his death just nine months after the patent was issued would keep him from the renown that would visit his cousin Elisha. Fourteen years after William’s death, Elisha would stand upon a hoisted platform in the middle of New York’s Crystal Palace as an axeman cut the rope, demonstrating his invention for an elevator brake worked.

America Couldn’t Fall in Love with the Automobile Until it Could Learn to Build Roads Faster (Harry H. Barber)

When Harry H. Barber was born, America’s oldest asphalt-paved roads were barely two years old. By the time Barber was 52, in 1930, nearly 27 million vehicles were destroying the roughly 400 million square yards of asphalt roads faster than they could be replaced.

Asphalt would have to be dumped, spread and smoothed by hand in order to prepare it for a relatively complex, horse-drawn roller to flatten it out and compact it. However, in 1930, Barber made his first sketches of what would become the first modern asphalt paver.

Using a screw conveyor to move and place the pre-mixed asphalt on the gravel bed, and then a built-in screed to smooth and true the material, roads could be laid down much more quickly. First exhibited at the 1931 Road Show in St. Louis (the progenitor to today’s CONEXPO-CON/AGG), the Barber-Greene asphalt paver would go on to pave the way to the America we know now.

How a Barn Full of Turkey Manure Led to a New Machine with Big Power for Small Spaces (The Keller Brothers)

Minnesota blacksmiths Cyril and Louis Keller, a crafty pair of brothers with a shop near Fargo, N.D., were brought a problem from a local farmer he could use their help with in 1956: Figure out a way to use a machine to clear manure out of the tight quarters of his two-level turkey barn, so he and his team wouldn’t have to keep doing it by hand.

Their idea? A three-wheeled machine with a front-loader bucket hinged in the back that was very low-weight, and could turn around within its own length. The progenitor of the modern skid-steer was born.

The skid-steer would soon become a sort of universal application platform, with its ability to handle attachments that do far more than scoop and dump. This one machine could be a bulldozer, mulcher, crane, forklift or even grader with the right attachment, allowing everyone including farmers, contractors and grounds maintenance professionals more capability with less space.

The Plow that Broke the Plains, and Fed the World (John Deere)

In the year 2020, one of the scariest phrases on the minds of global leaders is “food insecurity.” However, more than two hundred years beforehand, people looked at the tall grass prairies of the American Midwest, some of the most fertile land in the world, and despaired because they couldn’t open it up.

European farmers, more used to creating their fields out of previously-wooded areas of the Old World with looser soil, were befuddled. Their old wooden plows couldn’t cut through the tough root systems and extraordinarily dense soil of the prairie, and later cast-iron plows would bounce around and get fouled by caked-on soil.

Deere, remembering polishing needles in sand so they could pass more easily through leather and fabric at his father’s Vermont tailor shop, wondered if using highly polished steel and changing the shape of the moldboard it attached to, would let the sturdy metal slice through the sod without having to constantly scour the dirt from the edge. Deere tested his first polished steel plow near his home in Grand Detour, Ill. in 1837, and from there, fields in the Midwest previously thought to be unfarmable started sprouting wheat and corn.

Today, the U.S. Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin) produces almost 4.5 percent of the world’s agricultural value. It might not have happened had John Deere hadn’t spent his youth polishing needles for his dad.

Now, the AEM Hall of Fame is seeking, once more, to recognize the inventors, leaders, and innovators that have made today possible. Click here to submit your nomination by June 12.

About the AEM Hall of Fame

The AEM Hall of Fame traces its roots to 1993 and the not-for profit industry-wide Construction Equipment Hall of Fame initiated by Construction Equipment magazine. AEM served on the Hall of Fame Board of Directors; it took over ownership and operation in 2008, creating the AEM Hall of Fame for the off-road equipment manufacturing industry.

About the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM)

AEM is the North America-based international trade group representing off-road equipment manufacturers and suppliers with more than 1,000 companies and more than 200 product lines in the agriculture and construction-related industry sectors worldwide. The equipment manufacturing industry in the United States supports 2.8 million jobs and contributes roughly $288 billion to the economy every year.

How Bad is it?

By Greg Sitek

It’s not something you can avoid the Coronavirus, COVID-19 or whatever you are calling it. It’s on TV, the radio, the internet, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin; it’s everywhere. As it should be because it is. 

How bad is it? It’s bad socially, economically, health wise. It’s bad in every way it can possibly be bad. It’s probably the worst thing that has happened during my lifetime, which includes wars — World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, and others – and life/health related epidemics — Poliomyelitis, Influenzas, HIV/Aids (which has claimed more than 32,000,000 lives) and others. I don’t remember being under national, state, local “quarantine” as we are now. 

The loss of lives is impacting virtually everyone in this country.

When I try to recall a comparable time, my mind takes me back to World War II but there are no real comparisons. We had “blackouts” and practice air-raid drills when we would be required to stay inside with blackout curtains/shades drawn or all the lights out. But these didn’t last for days, weeks or months as today’s threat is. We had food rationing when you need stamps or tokens to get food and sometimes you had to wait for new supplies to arrive. During these days we have food that can be delivered or picked up from restaurants or grocery stores or even fast food services. 

During the World War II days, we collected cans which were washed, opened on both ends and flattened and then collected so they could be recycled along with paper and rags. We don’t have to do that but what we do have to do is refrain from touching others. This and the self-enforced quarantine are extremely difficult for us to do because as a society we have become very contact oriented. 

Our greetings with others usually involve shaking hands or a quick hug and we habitually stand closer than 6 feet apart when we are talking to people, Not doing this is a challenge but something that must be controlled to prevent the spread of our new enemy. 

At the recent CONEXPO 2020 show in Las Vegas, this was the most difficult thing attendees had to do and of course trying to maintain “social distancing” at this densely attended trade show was not easily done. Attendees were advised to do this regularly over the PA system and show management made buttons and stickers with this message available.  

These reminders did make a difference. In fact, in my opinion, this was the best CONEXPO I ever attended, and it was my 12th show, because the attendees were more courteous and considerate than in prior shows.

While we are being challenged and the test is not easy it is important to remember that as a species we like to survive and not only do we like to survive we do like to conquer and control. We are facing difficult times and will be for some time in the future. There is an abundance of information available on how to cope with and what to do to survive COVID-19. 

We live in a time when we have unlimited access to information. Anything you need to know is available virtually around the clock.

Reliable online sources on the new coronavirus and COVID-19 (Harvard Health Publishing)

While no one source of information is perfect, some are undeniably better than others! It’s best to look for sites that:

  • rely on experts who use well-accepted scientific analyses and publish their results in reputable medical journals
  • have a mission to inform and protect the public, such as the CDC and the WHO, which recently added a myth busters page to its information on the virus
  • are not promoting or selling a product related to the information provided.

Other good online sources of information on the virus include:

While gathering information online may be your easiest initial option, isolate yourself and contact your doctor if you have symptoms of an infection, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath. (If you don’t have a doctor, call the nearest clinic for advice.) If necessary, a doctor may recommend that you see a specialist at an academic medical center (such as a hospital affiliated with a major medical school) who is likely to have the most recent information about a previously unknown infectious illness like this one.

Remember, one of your most reliable information resources is the CDC:


The Construction Industry Came Together in a Big Way at CONEXPO-CON/AGG & IFPE 2020The show demonstrated that the U.S. equipment industry remains optimistic despite concerns about COVID-19.

Every three years CONEXPO-CON/AGG brings contractors, dealers, distributors, service providers, engineers, producers and construction media together. No other show connects attendees from every major construction sector to experience the unveiling of new technologies and products, share knowledge, network with industry peers and buy equipment.

The weeks before the show were filled with phone calls, text messages and emails all asking the same question, “Are you going to CONEXPO?”

I went and was not alone, by any means. Registrations for the show totaled over 130,000. At the conclusion of the show, cancellations from international attendees totaled less than 1 percent. 

Exhibitors across the show, from the Festival Grounds to North Hall to Bronze Lot to South Hall, expressed enthusiasm for the tremendous engagement they received from contractors and producers looking to purchase equipment. 

“We refer to CONEXPO-CON/AGG as the ‘heavy metal’ show, but it’s more than that. It’s also small equipment, education and technology. And that was reflected in every way this week,” said Mary Erholtz, Vice President of Marketing at Superior Industries and CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2020 Show Chairperson. “Giant machines, incredible exhibits, fantastic education and huge expectations. Organizers of CONEXPO-CON/AGG have a legacy of building and innovating on previous shows, and the 2020 gathering extends that record of success.

“This has been one of the best editions of CONEXPO-CON/AGG – ever,” continued Erholtz.

Exhibitors across the show, from the Festival Grounds to North Hall to Bronze Lot to South Hall, expressed enthusiasm for the tremendous engagement they received from contractors and producers looking to purchase equipment. 

According to IFPE Show Chairperson David Price, Global Marketing Manager of HydraForce Inc., 

“The crowd was much better than expected under the circumstances and most importantly, the right buyers were on the show floor. We were very pleased with the strong showing from the 300-plus exhibitors at IFPE 2020, and we are looking forward to the 2023 show.”

Mike Ballweber, President, Doosan Bobcat echoed those sentiments, “Tuesday for us was record breaking in terms of leads and attendance at our booth, which is how we measure how successful the show is for us. We had more people to our booth on the first day than all of the 2017 show. This is a one-every-three-years show, and our dealers and customers were really excited to be here.” 

With growing concerns about COVID-19, show management worked closely with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and the Southern Nevada Health District to make sure exhibitors, vendors and attendees were provided with heightened cleaning services and hand sanitizers to help reduce the spread of germs and enable show participation to stay healthy onsite at the show. 

“We have been pleased with the success of the overall show and attendance in our booth,” said Ingo Schiller, President and CEO of Tadano America Corporation. “The management team at CONEXPO-CON/AGG has been monitoring the situation and they made a very difficult decision to close the show a day early. We appreciate their leadership and we look forward to CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2023.” 

Key metrics reflect overall quality of CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE 2020 attendees: 

At the same time, the technological change revolutionizing these industries was pervasive across the shows’ record 2.7 million-plus net square feet of exhibits featuring 2300-plus exhibitors from the leading U.S. and global manufacturers, from multinational giants to small firms with specialized products.

Other highlights included: 

  • Partnership with women in construction groups to highlight the growing role women play in the industry, including the unveiling of the world’s largest 3-D printed statute of a human to honor the growing role women play in the construction industry. 
  • Workforce solutions area in the Festival Lot that showcased industry recruitment best practices. 
  • The Tech Experience returned for a second year and focused on modern mobility, sustainability and smart cities. 
  • The first-ever Fluid Power Hour for the co-located IFPE show., which featured an opportunity for engineers to network with their peers on the show floor. 

This was my 12th CONEXPO as a construction magazine editor and have to say it was every bit as exciting as the first one, I attended at McCormick Place and the Chicago Arena. The thing about this show  is that is really does put on display the importance of the role construction plays in global civilization; without construction …

The next CONEXPO-CON/AGG will be held March 14-18, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. For more information on CONEXPO-CON/AGG, visit

A version of this article appeared in the April 2020 issues of the ACP Magazines:

California Builder & Engineer, Construction, Construction Digest, Construction News, Constructioneer, Dixie Contractor, Michigan Contractor & Builder, Midwest Contractor, New England Construction, Pacific Builder & Engineer, Rocky Mountain Construction, Texas Contractor, Western Builder

Somethings Never Change…

By Greg Sitek

In construction one of the key components in being successful is completing a project on time or ahead of schedule. Another is completing the project at or under budget. There are many factors that can and do impact both the productivity and cost of a project but a lot depends on the equipment.

If the equipment is dependable and reliable; if the equipment doesn’t perform at it was designed to it’s difficult to be productive and operating costs are up. Throw in a major failure and costs can skyrocket and productivity plummet. 

One critical production machine being down can throw a job behind in every sense and every way.

There is insurance that can prevent this from happening or at least minimize the potential for such a catastrophe happening – good equipment management and good equipment maintenance program.

Equipment, all equipment has always demanded maintenance and management. If the equipment isn’t properly maintained, i.e. following the maintenance programs and procedures as outlined in the owner/operator manuals or online programs provided by the machine’s manufacturer. 

The routine daily inspections and procedures need to be done by your operation either by the equipment operator or company maintenance staff. Periodic or interval maintenance requirements can be fulfilled either by your operation or through contractual arrangements with your equipment dealer. 

To make certain that you are going to get the most out of the equipment make certain that the machine operators and maintenance staff are properly trained, use the correct tools and equipment to do the inspections, repairs and maintenance and use wear-products, i.e. filters, lubricants, belts, hoses, replacements parts, etc. recommended by the manufacturer.

Cutting corners with any of these “components” won’t save you money long term. Quite the contrary, usually it will end up costing much more than you could possibly have saved.

Manage the use and application of the equipment. Establish and follow, religiously, inspections, routine maintenance, wear-part replacement and periodic maintenance as prescribed by the manufacturer. Don’t put off a scheduled maintenance/inspection because you need the machine on the project. Don’t tempt fate. If you need the machine and a routine inspection or maintenance procedure comes up, shut the machine down or bring it in and follow the schedule.   

Use all the available maintenance aids you can to make the job easier, more efficient, more exact. Things like oil and/or fluid analysis provide excellent data on the internal conditions of your equipment.

Use maintenance software programs to help with the scheduling and recordkeeping. Good records are essential to good management and maintenance practices. 

Use your equipment in applications for which it was designed, engineered and manufactured. A piece of equipment that’s too big for an application doesn’t mean you get the job done fasted. 

Intelligent Sizing Drives Success

We’d all love it if we could justify owning and operating the biggest equipment – just to have it in case certain jobs come up that may require that added capacity. But it’s not practical in terms of owning and operating costs, and zoning in on equipment size ranges that best complement your work will make the most sense for your business in the long run.

(Source CASE News: (

What size equipment is right for you?

Determining what size of equipment is best for you depends on many factors. Primarily, it’s the application or exact task you require the machine to do. It also depends on what you expect as a return on investment. Generally, larger and more complex machines have higher purchase and operating costs, and have to be billed out at a higher rate. Smaller machines are more affordable to own and run, but they don’t command the large dollar-per-hour fees their big cousins do.

Equipment sizes vary according to volume demands. Often, the machine’s physical weight and dimensions affect the capacity more than engine horsepower or hydraulic pressure. Transportation is another prime issue when it comes to deciding on the right-sized piece of equipment. Having to purchase or arrange for large-capacity hauling between worksites can be an additional overhead that doesn’t pay back. (Source Warren

It’s March and for most of the country time to start getting the equipment ready for the surge of work and from all indicators, this is going to be a busy construction season across the country. If you have questions about maintenance programs, equipment applications, training for operators and/or maintenance staff contact your local dealers. They are a good and reliable source for virtually all equipment related questions. 

This feature appeared in the March 2020 issues of the ACP Magazines:

California Builder & Engineer, Construction, Construction Digest, Construction News, Constructioneer, Dixie Contractor, Michigan Contractor & Builder, Midwest Contractor, New England Construction, Pacific Builder & Engineer, Rocky Mountain Construction, Texas Contractor, Western Builder