• 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

Jul 08, 2019

Practical Innovation

Project Minotaur has yielded 22 patent applications, and counting.

“We put a priority on patenting our innovation, but this number of applications for a single project is something we see more often from hip technology companies rather than a 175-year-old equipment manufacturer,” said Brady Lewis, Program Manager.

A lot of the innovation in Project Minotaur is the novel combination of tools used in dozers and compact track loaders. What’s “new” is the varied functionality this single machine will bring to a work site. This unique combination of functions is driving the patent submissions.

For instance, some of the patents focus on the basic Minotaur concept with a quick-disconnecting Dozer Blade. Others focus on specific details of the implementation, for example, the protection of hoses from debris or improvements for operator serviceability.

“It’s usually a challenge, because we engineers like to look for the simplest or most obvious solutions to challenges. We may come up with an elegant solution and not appreciate that it is patentable,” Lewis explained. “But we set out to accomplish something novel with Project Minotaur, and found ourselves taking our expertise and innovating ways to deliver it.”

“More than half of our patent applications emerged from the early phases of the project.”

That makes sense, since combining the performance attributes of a dozer with a CTL presented a set of basic form and function challenges. Interestingly, the team discovered multiple ways to accomplish it, and submitted patent applications on those they would use in the device, and others that may provide value later on.

“Something might not be practical for this project, but we could use it on another one,” Lewis added.

The process relies on both operational and then legal review, as every potential patent is “published” internally so that fresh and informed eyes can look at each case. Project Minotaur spun off nearly three such “invention disclosures” for every two that passed muster and resulted in an application.

After all, it’s all about what’s practical and about finding solutions that add to the ROI for the customer running the machine.