EN takes a trip to a rather rainy edition of Plantworx, the construction event that’s for the industry, by the industry.
It’s always unfortunate when it rains during an outdoor event, and even more unfortunate when that outdoor event takes place in June.
Such was the situation when EN popped up to the East of England Arena and Events Centre for the latest edition of biennial construction equipment exhibitions Plantworx. Luckily no industry is more accustomed to working in all weathers, and the rain failed to dampen spirits at the trade event.
Plantworx, along with new co-located rail construction event Railworx, is organised by the Construction Equipment Association (CEA), the trade association that represents the £13bn industry. The show has moved between different venues over the past few editions as it continues to grow, taking place at Stoneleigh Park and Bruntingthorpe before settling at East of England for 2019.
“It’s a busy showground and we’re a growing show, but at the moment the intention is very clear that we’ll be here for six years,” says event director Simon Frere-Cook.
The event showcases the length and breadth of the civil construction industry, from the expected diggers and dumpers to the latest breakthrough technologies. In total the show has around 450 exhibitors, with a maximum stand size of 36m by 24m, to avoid large companies dominating the outdoor space.
The large amount of indoor and outdoor space at East of England provides numerous opportunities for exhibitors to show as well as tell, with an area of grass set aside for digger demonstrations and a netted section indoors for drone demonstrations.
“Our raison d’être is working demonstrations,” agrees Frere-Cook. “If you’ve got a certificate to operate any of these machines you can do that at Plantworx. You can go down the line and try everybody’s machine and then decide which one you want. It’s also seeing the experts from these companies demonstrating their machines, there is some fantastic kit out there. Watching an expert drive a big 360-degree digger on tracks and laying a billiard table is fantastic. They are superb at their trade.”
The Drone Zone at the show is new for 2019, and features the large demonstration area, a range of exhibitors and a content area.
“I think it will grow in the future, we all know how important drones are becoming in all industries, particularly in the construction industry,” continues Frere-Cook. “This is a very technologically-led industry at the moment, both in terms of environmental credentials and indeed how the machines themselves operate.”
Other zones at the event include the Security Zone and the Simulation Zone, which features six interlinked simulators.
“People can practice on the simulators and see how one links to another,” says Frere-Cook. “Each of those has a lot of technology attached to it and replicates what is on the real machines today.”
A focus of the event is education, in the form of the Get SET Zone in partnership with mental health charity Mind, which focuses on skills, education and training, and the Thursday student day.
At each edition of Plantworx, primary and secondary students are invited to come and experience the show.
“It’s very important that we engage with the students from primary school upwards,” explains Frere-Cook. “They are the engineers, operators and drivers of the future, every industry is after them.”
There’s no doubt that Plantworx is a must-attend event for the UK construction industry, as evidenced by the thousands of visitors that braved the rain to attend, and one that provides that all-important hands-on experience. Fingers crossed for sunnier weather when it returns in June 2021.