Thanks for the link to Gary’s work yo. With his experience at JCB he certainly has knowledge of the design-end of the “big yellow machine” business. Having 1o,ooo+ hours “in the seat” I have often wondered if I might not be able to translate it into a “seat” at Caterpillar. But I wonder how much “real” experience he has with his own designs (maybe I should contact him, huh?)
Besides being an Operating Engineer, I’ve spent a couple of years as an HDR (heavy duty repairman). I’d be more concerned with the ease of operation (ergonomics) and maintainability of these machines than their appearance. All the swoopy curves (not picking on Gary here) are pleasant to look at but since they are only attainable via molded plastics their field longevity is probably not too good; all the the stuff that I’ve worked on suffered from it (most operators of this equipment aren’t too concerned with bumping into things). The typical HDR is expected to keep his employer’s equipment running (often approaching a 90% duty cycle) with the tools s/he has on the truck, and that seldom, if ever, includes a drum of polyester resin and roll of fiberglass cloth, let alone the technical composites expertise to use it correctly.
That said, Caterpillar’s current “top line” M14 motorgrader is an excellent example of combining the two. Unfortunately, for purposes of this discussion, CAT is so protective of their product imagery that finding suitable examples from the net is almost impossible. This image was from a Bulgarian CAT dealer’s website. The operator controls of the M14 are an order of magnitude better than their prior model, and any other manufacturer’s, in my opinion.
you have old old buildings (old beautiful building too) but tractors that look sportscar oriented to differentiate themselve?!
may be the casual impression to some, the “styling” on the M14 (and most likely the other machines) opens up lines-of-sight that make operation more efficient, less fatiguing, and ultimately safer for personnel on the ground.
The trend of all of this equipment is heading toward being essentially “driver-less”, controlled by GPS systems; gone will be the day of a virtual forest of wooden stakes driven into the ground with colored ribbons to indicate elevations.
CAT 160H - typical of all other makes, control (ten levers) must be reached for and manually “blended”.
CAT M14 - all controls accessible without moving the hands from 3-axis joystick hand controllers. As an aside, many of the old hands that I know, who operate “blades” (as they’re called), are so frustrated with learning these new controls that they are retiring from the business.