Changing The Scenery
The Project Minotaur team has been working with customers over the past few months to put units to work in variety of environments to evaluate performance in the likely places where they’ll be put to use.
“We’ve collaborated with customers who provide the widest possible range of geographies and site use cases,” explained Aaron Baldwin, Product Validation Manager. “Our goal is to add exclusive, new research results to the deep historical data we have on dozer and CTL performance.”
Dozens of tests were completed, ranging from mountains to coastal areas, representing a variety of soil conditions including sandy, hard clay, and rocks. The work sites are also unique in terms of access, whether small narrow roads or city streets, and topography, as the areas have included steep inclines and close proximity to housing.
“The idea is to use a Project Minotaur unit both as a CTL and dozer, since that dual utility is a key component of its value proposition,” said Baldwin.
Because of that added functionality, each test lasts from six to eight weeks instead of the usual month or so, with customers sometimes switching between bucket and dozer daily. The units have collected telematics on mission data, engine parameters, hydraulic pressure, engine hours and other data points that document duty cycles, and all of the customers are providing verbal feedback (and sometimes video, too).
“One customer in the Rockies literally operated a unit on the side of a mountain and was able to use the dozer blade to move boulders out of the ground instead of a CTL bucket,” Baldwin explained. “Because of the unit’s power and ability to grip there was no sliding (it was stable), and he was able to go right from that to grading.”
“Another customer in the Southeast put the unit on residential area roads and noted the fine control, but then took it into undeveloped land to knock over some trees.”
Perhaps just as importantly as variety of use cases, the Project Minotaur customer testing has involved operators with a variety of skill levels and backgrounds, including some for whom English isn’t their first language.
“At the end of the day, we want the machine to be intuitive and drive with very little effort,” Baldwin said. “Even if the first user is an experienced operator, many of them are putting other operators in the seat thereafter.”
“We want it to work for everyone.”