Reading Time: 5 min | Sep 2021

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Excellence in Engineering

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.


Valtra G135 | Manufacturer: Valtra Inc., Suolahti, Finland
The "Valtra G135" is an eye-catching tractor that not only looks good but also runs on 100% renewable fuel while still managing the heaviest tasks.
ESR 1000 Series | Manufacturer: Crown Gabelstapler GmbH & Co. KG, Feldkirchen, Germany
The ESR 1000 Series, "the first fully connected forklift truck of its generation", sets new standards with its state-of-the-art system capable of operating more efficiently and providing the best user experience.
John Deere X9 Combine | Manufacturer: John Deere, Illinois, United States
"John Deere X9 Combine" is a farm machine that functions as a powerful harvester and features an "intentionally aggressive look", according to the designers.
Bobcat Compact Wheel Loader | Manufacturer: Doosan Bobcat EMEA, Dobris, Czechia
The impressive "Bobcat Compact Wheel Loader" is at the top of the wheel loader market thanks to its excellent user experience and reliable performance.
XZ4055 Horizontal Directional Drill | Manufacturer: Xuzhou XCMG Foundation Construction Machinery Co., Ltd., Xuzhou, China
As the "world's first lithium-powered horizontal directional drill", the "XZ4055" paves the way for greener construction equipment and shows that it is still possible to achieve top performance.
ZIEGLER / Z-Cab AiR | Manufacturer: Albert Ziegler GmbH, Giengen a. d. Brenz, Germany
The futuristic-looking "ZIEGLER / Z-Cab AiR" offers state-of-the-art technology with its unique all-round view and a 360° camera system.
All-electric compact sweepers CityCat V20e & VS20e | Manufacturer: Bucher Municipal AG, Niederweningen, Switzerland
These newly designed street sweeping vehicles are fully electric and combine cutting-edge technology with sleek aesthetics for maximum functionality.
XE35U-E Electric Excavator | Manufacturer: Xuzhou Xugong Excavator Machinery Co., Ltd., Xuzhou, China
The all-electric "XE35U" excavator is an excellent example of a construction machine that operates with less noise, making it especially useful in quieter areas.
PINK VADU series – Soldering Systems | Manufacturer: PINK GmbH Thermosysteme, Wertheim, Germany
PINK has developed a new, modular machine design and UI design for its new generation of vacuum soldering systems. One or two modules can be added to the VADU 200 XL, the base model VADU series machine, creating up to four chambers and scaling up the system from small series to mass production. Modules and features can be integrated easily and seamlessly blend into the system's overall sleek form factor.
HAMM Series HC 170 - HC 250 | Manufacturer: HAMM AG, Tirschenreuth, Germany
Part of a new generation of heavy compactors, the "HAMM Series HC 170 - HC 250" is another forward-looking construction machine design that focuses on reliable performance as well as ergonomic operator comfort.
REACH TRUCK | Manufacturer: Zhejiang Jialift Warehouse Equipment Co., Ltd., Changxing, China
"The first of its kind", the "Reach Truck" forklift features 5G technology, which allows switching between manual and automatic driving.
ZIEGLER / ALPAS Superstructure | Manufacturer: Albert Ziegler GmbH, Giengen a. d. Brenz, Germany
The "ZIEGLER / ALPAS Superstructure" represents a new future for fire trucks, focusing on a better modular system and a more comfortable cab design, for construction equipment as a reliable companion.
Metalquimia Signature | Manufacturer: METALQUIMIA, Girona, Spain
To ensure greater hygiene and cleanliness of this meat processing line, the designers substituted traditional handles with simple grooves, eliminating the angled planes of older versions to reduce contamination risk. Defined by clean, unobtrusive geometry, Metalquimia Signature is the embodiment of the best technology in the industry.

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.

CONCEPT-X | Manufacturer: Doosan Infracore, Incheon, South Korea

This futuristic excavator with a wheel loader is the first of its kind to be unmanned, using drones instead to complete more dangerous tasks in less time.

Axia | Manufacturer: Grupo Nicolás Correa, Burgos, Spain

This device is a versatile, precision milling system designed to reliably and quickly accomplish simple and complex machining tasks on volumes of a wide range of materials.

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.

"The design must also be durable and not get too lost in the fashionable."

Short interview with
Maike Budde

CEO of Budde Industrie Design GmbH in Münster (Germany),
designer and iF Juror

Maike Budde

Maike Budde, together with her sister Lia Budde, forms the management of the renowned family business Budde Industrie Design in Münster (Germany). She studied industrial design at the University of Wuppertal and at the University of Cincinnati at the College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning (DAAP). Budde Industrie Design stands for good industrial design since 1978. Their international clients come from a variety of industries, from products such as vehicles, processing machinery and technical equipment to consumer goods. In-depth functional and technical exploration of the product, fused with high aesthetical demand, is Budde´s approach to creating successful design.

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.

iF: What are some of the most important factors when designing large equipment for construction?

M.B.: 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.

iF: To what extent is sustainability taken into account here?

M.B.: 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.


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