Komatsu mining truck named 2024 ‘coolest thing made in Illinois’

A mining truck manufactured by Chicago-based Komatsu was crowned the winner of the 2024 “Makers Madness” contest, earning the title of “the coolest thing made in Illinois” at the Governor’s Mansion Wednesday.

The truck was among more than 200 entries in the fifth annual contest hosted by the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and sponsored by Comcast Business. The bracket-style contest lasted eight weeks and collected almost 315,000 votes for the products entered, narrowing them down to the top 16, then to the final four, which were recognized Wednesday.

The truck, made by Komatsu in Peoria, has a hauling capacity of up to 400 tons and has “new innovations in suspension transmission, electric drive technology and autonomous operation,” according to Komatsu. The 980E-5 truck weighs more than 1.3 million pounds.

Dan Funcannon, a vice president at Komatsu, said the trucks are the “coolest machines on the planet.”

“These machines are manufactured in Peoria and shipped around the world to support mining the minerals and materials that are required to do this manufacturing around the globe,” he said at Wednesday’s ceremony. “We feel it's a big honor and also responsibility to sell these products throughout the world.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker congratulated the finalists and said manufacturing is key to the state’s economy.

“This room is full of talented and driven people who continue to propel our state toward a brighter future,” he said. “Our economic growth is due in large part to the thriving manufacturing sector that you all help to build every day.”

Three other finalists, covering a wide range of products, also were recognized at the ceremony. Mullen’s Imitation French Dressing, made by J.D. Mullen Company in Palestine, was founded by World War I veteran and Illinois restaurateur John Mullen. The MQ-25 Stingray Drone Refueler, built by Boeing in Mascoutah, is the first unmanned aircraft to refuel another aircraft midflight. Enviro Buildings’ Mod Box, made by Craig Industries in Quincy, is a modular insulated outdoor building used for construction and security offices.

According to the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, the industry is responsible for almost a third of the state’s jobs and contributes more than $580 billion to the economy annually.

The Rosenberg moon habitat, made by Ingersoll Machine Tools in Rockford, was the 2023 winner. St. Charles-based Bison Gear and Engineering Corp.’s pull tight pool cover gearmotor was named one of the 16 coolest products made in Illinois in 2022.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of newspapers, radio and TV stations statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.