By Andy Brown19 April 2021
US-based GOMACO officially began selling equipment in 1965 with three products. Today the company manufacture curb and gutter machines, concrete slipform pavers, placer/spreaders, trimmer/placers, cylinder finishers, canal machinery and accessories for any concrete construction project. The firm sells their products around the world.
International Construction caught up with Kent Godbersen, vice president of worldwide sales and marketing, and Kevin Klein, vice president of engineering/research and development, to find out how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the company and the role of new technology in concrete, including the possibility of electric machines.
2020 was certainly an eventful year. How was it for GOMACO?
Kent Godbersen: The worldwide Covid-19 pandemic negatively affected companies from most industries, construction companies and manufacturers of construction equipment were certainly no exception to this. We took a number of steps to adjust our production capabilities to the new environment and fortunately did not have any layoffs or furloughs of our employees. By keeping employees onboard, we are capable of gearing back up to full production at any time once the market returns to normal, and we are starting to see more positive signs of that happening.
Are there any countries or geographical regions of the world where the company is seeing a good increase in sales?
Kent Godbersen: We are starting to see more activity from most of the countries around the world. The pandemic is global, we saw the decrease unilaterally across the world and now are seeing signs that construction activity is picking up, again unilaterally. There are some countries that seem to be further ahead than others, but we are seeing an increase in activity across all countries.
New technology is increasing in all aspects of construction. Can you give us some examples of the new technology being used on GOMACO machines?
Kevin Klein: As well as the advances in controls and diagnostics, we are continuing to add more and more sensors on our equipment, which provide feedback to the controller as to how certain aspects of the machine may be functioning or need to function. The hydraulic circuits can be monitored for pressure and flow, which helps us do a better job of controlling those functions. We also use many smart cylinders and speed pickups for hydraulic motor drives.
By coordinating control of a particular function with other functions that may be happening simultaneously, we can get improved overall performance, such as monitoring track pressures and speed when making a steering correction during paving.
Can it be an issue to get operators to fully accept and utilise new technology? Does it sometimes depend on the age of the operator?
Kent Godbersen: It can be a learning process, but once they see the benefits the new technology brings they not only accept the new technology but embrace it. The technology can make jobs not only easier for the operators and crews, but more efficient and productive, which results in greater profits for the company.
Kevin Klein: We designed the G+ Control System to be easy to understand, with an operator interface that is intuitive and easy to operate. We have placed some of the more ‘high level’ control concepts in the background, and placed the normal day to day functions that the operator uses most, in the first display screens for the controller. By keeping the initial control screens simple and intuitive, we find operator acceptance to be much better because they can see and feel the benefits. Once they have the easy features down first and are comfortable with the controls, they can start exploring some of the more advanced features as time goes on.
Does the company have any plans to develop electric machines?
Kevin Klein: We are certainly paying attention to the battery powered construction machine market. We have started a couple of engineering development projects to learn and understand how battery power can be applied to our equipment. We are not ready to release any specifics at this point, but should be doing so in the future.