New, Yet Familiar
The industrial design challenge for Project Minotaur was to incorporate novel functionality into an operational framework that relied on proven technologies, while visually communicating the capability to do new things in ways that would appear familiar to operators.
“When we were first approached with the idea of a skid steer that also performed as a dozer, the engineering team had defined the work it needed to do,” explained Eric Jacobsthal, Design Manager. “So our approach was to take what we know works, and strengthen it.”
That process started with sketches on a tablet and then CAD engineering renderings over the next few weeks, followed by a month or so of development that yielded a 3D model that could be viewed at full scale at CASE’s virtual reality lab in Burr Ridge, Illinois.
Some design changes were immediately obvious, starting with the steel tracks in place of the rubber tracks normally found on CTLs, to support Project Minotaur’s dozer performance. The arm design looked similar to a skid steer, but it was re-imagined to maximize strength and performance characteristics.
“The back was more rugged, like a dozer, and the lights were positioned in a way that they wouldn’t get banged up,” said Jacobsthal. “We moved the tanks and batteries that would normally have been there on a skid steer to support the ripper.”
The design also incorporated a concept known in the architecture world as “form follows function,” which meant using elements like curved towers on the back emphasizing its great maneuverability and compact design, and its ease-of-use and ruggedness demonstrated by a heavier door structure that could swing wide open.
Delivering enhanced cab visibility was also a priority, as operators would need it to exploit all of Project Minotaur’s capabilities, and the VR modeling allowed the team to “see” what operators would see in different environments (blade, bucket, ground-level, truck loading, etc).
“We always get requests to make manufacturing easier, and perfect fit-up was our goal,” Jacobsthal explained. “We made sure we made things more heavy duty than the performance requirements specified, to ensure the machine’s performance in the most demanding applications.”
“A machine that’s well put together looks well put together, which is good not just for product quality and reliability, but its look and feel on a dealer’s showroom floor, or on a job site,” he added.
So Project Minotaur combines the “best” aspects of a dozer and CTL, along with CASE’s proven expertise in both product categories, to deliver a third, or new offering of functions.
Hence the concept model’s code name.