• VIDEO: Episode 11: The Journey BackWichita preps Project Minotaur as it leaves for its journey back to CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2020.
  • VIDEO: Episode 10: LearningsFrom the first focus groups at CONEXPO 2017 to customer clinics and jobsites throughout North America, Project Minotaur has evolved through extensive voice of customer feedback and traditional field testing.746
  • VIDEO: Episode 9: The First BuildersCASE builds a new line for Project Minotaur and implements World Class Manufacturing (WCM) principles as the company looks to retain the specially crafted design of the machine while also optimizing worker engagement with the machine and the workspace. 727
  • VIDEO: Episode 8: The First JobsChad Eaton of Grapes & Sons Excavating was one of the first operators at our customer clinic in Arizona earlier this year, and became one of the first contractors to put Project Minotaur to the test on real jobsites in the mountains of Colorado.712
  • VIDEO: Episode 7: Just Add FeedbackJosh Zimmerman discusses his role in dialing in the performance of Project Minotaur, and the important role that feedback plays in how the controls of the machine are refined. 685
  • VIDEO: Episode 6: Customer Clinic DocumentaryContractors from around the country come to a customer clinic in Arizona to be the very first to operate Project Minotaur.661
  • VIDEO: Episode 5: Lift the CurtainProject Minotaur team members discuss the work and planning that goes into developing a customer clinic for a new piece of construction equipment, and what they have in store for the first wave of contractors to operate the machine. 642
  • VIDEO: Episode 4: Break ThingsDan Seacat discusses the hours of testing put on equipment at the Wichita proving grounds, and what operators and testers are looking for as Project Minotaur comes closer to reality. 615
  • VIDEO: Episode 3: Heat, Data, Dozers, LoadersAir-to-boil testing puts equipment through extreme environmental and workload conditions before a new machine is ever seen by contractors.592
  • VIDEO: Episode 2: ConnectionsEngineers at the CASE manufacturing plant in Wichita, Kansas, discuss the first seeds of the idea that grew into Minotaur, and the core principle behind the frame design and blade/attachment interface. 568
  • VIDEO: Episode 1: Spare PartsCASE unveiled Project Minotaur at CONEXPO 2017 — a new machine category that brought together the performance attributes of a compact track loader and a dozer to create the industry's first ever Compact Dozer Loader, the DL450. CASE has since evolved the concept and is taking it into the next stages of development. This series will follow along the development process — Episode One details the steps taken since initial tests and focus groups after CONEXPO, the pieces of the original design left behind, and hints at the directions it is taking moving forward.511

The Origin Story

Making the Monster

In the Dirt

Jan 20, 2020

Continuous Improvement

The practical innovation underway in Project Minotaur includes both iterating the machine itself as well as the assembly line that is producing each unit. As customers continue to provide hands-on operational feedback, the team in Wichita is using its experience, both historic and recent, to literally gear-up for production.

“We are reiterating constantly,” explained Shawn Womack, Assembly Lead. “We started with detailed plans and VR models for a simplified production process that put more tasks in the hands of fewer people, giving them more ownership as craftsmen, and have since used cameras and daily interaction with the team to improve aspects of the workflow.”

Early on, the team took the company’s proven assembly line methodology and asked themselves how they could make it better. “Thinking outside the box” yielded two core innovations, according to Womack.

“First, we took the old chain-to-drag assembly model and replaced it with air float carts that could move an 18,000 lb. machine from station to station as well as adjust height to match the movement needs of each employee and task.”

“Second, we rethought a more ergonomically-friendly manipulator, as well as tool access and how supply carts would be configured.”

Work on various prototype builds has yielded meaningful insights into making these innovations more practical and effective.

More stability and positioning controls are being added to the air carts. Manipulator controls are getting fine-tuned to give operators easier and more efficient access to their units. There’s a project underway to analyze the movement sequences for logistics carts so that every part is placed in the absolute best spot, at the right time.

Equally significant iterative improvements are being made to the “people” side of the equation.

“We’re refining our work instructions so that work content is precise,” said Womack. “We want to ensure that every step is not only accurate, but also maintains the flow of the line.”

That line QA is where looking at both human and tool performance is crucial, especially when it comes to using the tools and parts provided by third-party partners. By collecting accurate data, via cameras and feedback from the operators, any application issues can be separated from performance issues; this means that the team can go back to its partners with the confidence that a problem isn’t user-related. This saves time and yields better solutions.

Perhaps most importantly, the iterative innovations underway now are part of an ongoing commitment to continuously improve Project Minotaur.

“It’s a journey,” added Womack.