Planning For The Unexpected
As soon as Project Minotaur debuted at ConExpo last year, customers were already coming up with novel ways to put it to work.
“One guy saw it as a machine that could be lowered down a hole to help build a subway station,” said Brady Lewis, the project’s Program Manager. “Customers clearly got ’what it was’, and we heard use cases we’d never thought of before.”
“I was surprised that people picked up on it so quickly,” added George Mac Intyre, Director of Landscaping & Agriculture Segments.
The potential for a combined dozer and compact track loader (“CTL”) had been clear early on in the innovation process, both because of the market growth of CTLs, and the fact that many of them get adapted with mulching heads to clear land. Some customers add attachment 6-way blades to use CTLs as if they were dozers.
Only they’re not.
“We’d talked with dozer guys about the limitations of putting a dozer blade on a CTL,” said Mac Intyre. “The blade doesn’t want to stay flat and tends to bounce around, which severely limits your ability to do fine grading. Also, the rubber tracks on a CTL produce less traction and stability.”
With those customer insights in mind, Minotaur’s steel tracks, and a patent-pending C-Frame designed to switch seamlessly between true dozer and CTL functionality were built into the vehicle’s specs, ensuring that it will offer more versatility than anything currently on the market.
Just what exactly they’ll do with it remains an open question, however, and those use cases could suggest additional modifications, or simply help set endurance thresholds for the development process.
So CASE has upped its engagement to help develop novel use cases, and incorporate that feedback into Minotaur.
“We’re taking what we already know, and adding to it what we might not know,” Lewis said.
What that entails is a robust conversation with customers and dealers, meeting at shows and one-on-one, as well as using surveys. “We’re looking for a variety of applications from as many customers as possible,” according to Mac Intyre.
The team has also added entire new rounds of product testing, and plans to get machines into customers’ hands far earlier than usual.
“In a normal program we know exactly what customers will expect a machine to do,” Brady added. “Minotaur’s functionality is going to create new use cases, and by getting data on those scenarios early, we can ensure that we deliver the performance and reliability that CASE is known for.”
“We want customers to put it through its paces long before we bring it to market.”