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minexpo3The 2012 MINExpo International tradeshow running at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) from Sept. 24 through Sept. 26 might not be the “greatest show on Earth,” as P.T. Barnum once boasted about his traveling circus. But by any measurement, it certainly is one of the largest shows on Earth.

Held every four years due in part to the logistics involved in getting the massive mining machines to the show site and onto the floor, MINExpo International takes a great deal of time for planning and setup. Actual show setup begins many weeks before the event, often in July, and is coordinated by event general contractor Global Experience Specialists (GES).


“There are logistical challenges that arise which set MINExpo apart from traditional tradeshows. It requires different techniques to keep the show floor safe and ensure a smooth move-in,” said Dan Shapiro, senior vice president of national sales, GES. “First is the large number of customer shipments from international exhibitors and the permit loads that come with these shipments because of how large they are. This translates into only being able to move in these types of freight during certain times of the day. Second is the fact that because the equipment being displayed is so large, our team has to find additional space that is safe to unload, assemble and secure an area for each move-in.”

And getting some of the largest machinery onto the show floor safely and without damage is anything but easy.

“Those are very significant challenges for us,” said Moya Phelleps, vice president, National Mining Association (NMA). “We have to have a number of large doors to haul equipment through and we must have anything over 1 million pounds okayed by the LVCC and GES.”

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Large cranes, forklifts, rigging supplies, machine dollies, service trucks, compressors and reach lifts are allused for the MINExpo move-in.

As might be expected, determining which machinery and other exhibit items are moved to the showroom floor requires a great deal of logistical planning.

“There are a few factors that go into determining what equipment gets placed in the convention center earliest,” said Shapiro. “First, we gather information from exhibitors to determine the size of their freight and the number of pieces that accompany their exhibit. Second, we look at how long everything will take to build and whether they’ll need mobile or crane assistance. Lastly, we analyze the timelines for move-in and move-out and their location on the show floor. This is a team effort, and everyone from our logistics team to operational staff and labor helps facilitate this process.”

How equipment is moved into the venue varies and is based on a number of factors, such as weight and type of drive system. A wheeled vehicle might put more pressure on the concrete floors than a vehicle driven by a track system, so plywood or metal plates might be placed along the pathway to disperse the weight as it moves on the show floor. In some cases, an entire curb is removed to allow machinery onto the show floor.

“There’s a long list of special gear that is needed to make sure every piece of equipment is moved in a timely and efficient manner,” said Shapiro. “Each piece of this equipment is used to make sure nothing is damaged and no one is injured. We use cranes, larger forklifts, rigging supplies, machine dollies, service trucks, compressors, reach lifts and electrostatic painting equipment for the machinery. From moving to making sure each piece of equipment looks cosmetically flawless, this equipment does it all.”

The larger equipment also means cranes must handle pieces outside of their exhibit area, which, in turn, can affect surrounding exhibits.

With 35 sets of large doorways through which the massive mining equipment can be moved, the LVCC is ideal for putting on such a large-scale event.

“We’ve been here long enough that we know where all the utilities and water lines are,” said Phelleps. “This is the only place we can use. It has the doors we need, pre-assembly space, floor load and there’s usually not a lot of rain and high winds.”

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The LVCC has 35 sets of large doorways through which the massive mining equipment can be moved.

That mining remains one of the most important industries in Nevada also makes Las Vegas an ideal location to host an expo in which many display pieces are sold for millions of dollars. The next several MINExpo shows are scheduled at the LVCC with plans underway to extend the contract even further into the future.

“For the 2016 show, we will go to the 2012 exhibitors and give them a layout of the floor for the next MINExpo. People can choose where they want their exhibits. And, as the old adage goes, they want ‘location, location, location,’” said Phelleps.

While firms can begin preparing for the next MINExpo even as the current show is underway, most logistical planning occurs about two years before a MINExpo show is scheduled.

And with such extremely specialized equipment being brought onto the show floor, having properly trained personnel is crucial toward ensuring safety.

“GES and the exhibitor companies have agreed to let the companies use their own folks when dealing with highly specialized mining equipment and systems,” said Phelleps.

While licensed engineers and others handle specialized equipment, a great deal of oversight helps ensure the right people are doing the right jobs during show setup.

“There’s definitely special training and certifications that are involved with each member of the MINExpo team. We only hire certified crane operators. We also provide rigging, crane, signaling and safety classes,” said Shapiro. “Lastly, we have daily meetings which consist of making sure everyone is comfortable with their assigned tasks.”

It may take months to prepare for and put on a MINExpo event, but the teardown takes only a couple days. Much of the machinery on display gets sold during the tradeshow and winds up heading to an entirely different destination after the event closes. And MINExpo will be back at the LVCC in 2016 for another run as one of the greatest shows on Earth.

Time-Lapse Video of MINExpo 2012 Move-In

MINExpo International 2012 fast facts:
  • MINExpo covers 860,000 sq ft. among 12 halls and outdoor areas.
  • 1,860 exhibitors from 36 nations.
  • About 50,000 people expected to attend from 112 nations.
  • Average cost of each product or service sold during MINExpo is $9.3 million.
  • Estimated local economic impact of $63.7 million in non-gaming revenue.
  • Caterpillar’s 52,000-square-foot exhibit is the largest ever at MINExpo.
  • GES laid 615,106 square feet of aisle carpeting.
  • GES hung more than 100 aisle signs.
  • GES employed more than 1,300 union members in four different trades represented by Teamsters Local 631, IBEW Electricians
  • Local 357, IATSE Stagehands Local 720 and Carpenters Local 1870.
  • Pre-Assembly of equipment takes seven weeks.
  • Post Assembly of equipment takes three weeks.
  • GES used sea, rail, road and air transportation to move equipment.
  • GES produced more than 50,000 square feet of show management graphics.
  • More than 100 hanging sign orders were hung.
  • More than 2,000 small packages were received.
  • GES’ Trade Show Electrical received enough orders to power more than 1,000 homes.
  • GES will have more than 10 cranes of various sizes in operation during setup. The largest is a 265-ton crane.
  • GES used more than 10 large forklifts ranging from 12,000 lbs to 36,000 lbs and more than 100 standard 5,000 lbs forklifts in use.

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