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From futuristic fire trucks to massive agricultural machinery, from electric excavators to modular milling machines – the iF DESIGN AWARD 2021 offers an exciting look at the next generation of construction equipment and other industrial solutions.
The bigger, the better? That's not necessarily true. But when it comes to construction machines for industry, the trend toward larger designs is evident. However, that's not the only sign of excellence. Thanks to technological advances such as artificial intelligence and automation, industrial tools and vehicles are being equipped with powerful new functions and capabilities.
The design and colors of large equipment often reflect their function in different industries: Bright red designs signal use in the fire department or construction. Green is often used in agriculture. However, they all have a modern and futuristic look, thanks to their sleek design that focuses on the essentials.
In the construction industry, sustainability plays an important role. Forward-thinking designers are paying attention to the current debate and are focusing more and more on eco-friendly creations. Be it in the development of emission-free vehicles or in the use of better materials for the environment and, above all, durable – especially in tough outdoor use in all weathers.
Among this year's groundbreaking iF award-winning products are many in the Industry / Tools category that focus on creating the greatest of the greatest machines in contemporary product design. Often dubbed "the world's first" or "first of its kind", the designs reflect the pioneering spirit in the field of construction machinery. Product designers constantly face challenges that are not present in smaller consumer items. The ultimate goal is to have both the design awareness and the technical understanding of what is needed in the construction industry to produce the best possible product.
A good example is the iF gold award-winning concept for the "CONCEPT-X" excavator: this futuristic construction machine works unmanned and instead takes on tasks that would be dangerous for humans on a construction site in cooperation with drones. "Valtra G135" is another impressive machine that is not only called "the best municipal tractor in the world", but is now also the first tractor in the world powered by 100% renewable energy. The "ZIEGLER / ALPAS Superstructure" is, as the name suggests, a forward-looking design of a fire truck, with less weight but more volume for maximum modularity thanks to the latest generation of ALPAS.
When we take a closer look at specific work processes and functions, many of the iF awarded designs present exciting solutions with cutting-edge technology which put routine, safety and production rates on an advanced level. Take, for example, the modular soldering system "PINK VADU series" in which features can be integrated easily allowing tailor-made solutions for customers. And the iF gold award-winning milling machine "Axia" represents a pure box-in-box concept combining an innovative ram droop mechanical system with a unique ram guiding system.
All this shows that the designers do not stop striving for higher. On the contrary, they are designing better machines with more and more diverse functions, making them perfectly ready for the future.
CEO of Budde Industrie Design GmbH in Münster (Germany), designer and iF juror
iF: What are the most exciting trends in engineering right now related to large construction equipment?
M.B.: Design is becoming an increasingly important factor in the development of large machines. The human-machine interface is firmly merging with digitalization, performance optimization and automation. With machines becoming more and more complex, good integration and comfort for the user play an important role.
What are some of the most important factors when designing large equipment for construction?
When designing large machines, it is important to remember that they have long product life cycles and usually a harsh environment. Thus, material use and manufacturing processes play an important role in the design in addition to aesthetics. The design must also be durable and not get too lost in the fashionable. The focus should be on a good fusion between design, ergonomics and technology. A technical understanding and knowledge of manufacturing processes is a basic prerequisite for achieving a holistic result with the customer.
To what extent is sustainability taken into account here?
In machine development, attention is paid at an early stage to assembly groups, durable design, use of materials, and identical parts. By keeping a watchful eye on the ever-evolving materials & processes, the designer is required to incorporate these into his projects through comprehensive processing – always to make a step forward – in many respects.