A Successful Customer Clinic
The first customer clinic had been in the works since February, when the team put out the word that Project Minotaur would be ready to get put through its paces (CASE internal operators, sometimes known as “iron chefs,” had already tested it intensively, which had led to many of the operational qualities reflected in the latest build).
“We wanted to assemble a diverse group of operators/customers who each would have different job site requirements,” explained Aaron Baldwin, product validation manager, CASE. “So we looked at different parts of the US & Canada where units would be used in different weather and terrain/soil environments.”
“We also wanted operators with experience operating competitive dozers and larger CTLs.”
The Arizona clinic course was conceived as eight different stations, each simulating a different task (like creating a driveway, a basement dig, side slope, etc.). Many of the simulations were set up as a hybrid situation — requiring dozing and lifting — to test Project Minotaur’s multi-use benefits. In every area, operators would get the chance to work with a Project Minotaur unit and dedicated dozers or CTLs.
There was one unique hurdle that the team had to jump before getting started, though.
“Nobody had any prior experience operating the new units, and we didn’t want that learning curve to bias their experience,” said Baldwin. “So we gave customers a good amount of time up front to just drive them around, do whatever they wanted to do, in order to get familiar with it.”
A CASE expert was assigned to each customer to help address any issues (large or small) that might emerge from the tests, as well as to capture real-time “why” feedback.
The multi-day format of the clinic gave the team the ability to make on-the-spot, minor adjustments in the clinic.
“After some initial operation, one customer wanted to change the pitch of the blade that we’d set based on our internal recommendations,” said Baldwin. “We did it and he loved it, so we made the adjustment on all of the other units in use for the test and everyone else really liked it, too.”
“I’d say more than three-fourths of the initial settings were aligned with customer expectations, and we were able to move the needle up on that number while the clinic was underway.”
The team left Arizona with a number of other refinements to explore, with many of them done in time for the next round of customer testing that will involve sending units to customer sites (some of whom participated in the clinic).
“Customers are very willing to tell us about problems,” explained Stacy Johnson, vehicle test engineer. “We got great insights from their comments during operation and at the debriefs, but their feedback also told us something that’s worth remembering.”
“They said they’d buy this machine.”