Designworks and John Deere create next-gen backhoe

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Designworks/John Deere backhoe Designworks/John Deere backhoe

BMW subsidiary Designworks has teamed up with John Deere to design a next generation backhoe


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Unveiled at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017, the Designworks/John Deere backhoe utilises new-age materials and technological innovations to create a revolutionary concept through a design process known as ‘Fixstern’.

According to Designworks, ‘Fixstern’ or ‘fixed star’ is a holistic and innovative research and design process that has been pioneered by BMW.

BMW says that the process creates a "far-future vision, a focal point that all stakeholders can share in common, align to, and drive towards".

"BMW is continuously working on innovations to headline the radical change in our future mobility. Through Designworks we are able to share knowledge and inspire change and transformation in other industries, which is important not only with regards to product design or connectivity, but especially when it comes to sustainable solutions for the future," BMW Group design senior vice president Adrian van Hooydonk says.

The collaboration between John Deere and Designworks wasn’t without its challenges, with the design brief stipulating that the backhoe must be highly capable and robust while reducing overall weight by no less than 20 per cent and reducing environmental impact by no less than 10 per cent.

The design also demanded an elevated user experience, the achievement of which would be dependent on user interaction and improved spaciousness. In addition, the backhoe also needed to be flexible and versatile – both in construction and cost – in order to accommodate different regional markets and address changing market demands.

The finished concept, according to BMW, incorporates an array of compelling features and innovations.

"A hybrid powertrain delivers the right amount of power, efficiency and light weighting without compromising productivity. It also enables a lower centre of gravity and improves forward visibility.

"The form incorporates forward stabilisers, enabling an extended wheelbase with airless radial tires, which in turn improves transport stability and expands the operator station.

"To elevate the user experience, John Deere and Designworks expanded the operator station with larger openings and fewer obstructions to improve ingress/egress, visibility, and storage space.

"The isolation of seat and controls from a now-structural Rollover Protective Structure (ROPS) greatly improves comfort and control while reducing vibration and noise. Electric four-wheel steer improves maneuverability in tight areas."

The Fixstern backhoe concept also boasts increased machine intelligence and connectivity with integrated augmented interfaces that enhance operation and real-time training, allow for increased communication between operator and project supervisor for efficiency and control, and incorporate predictive maintenance for decreased downtime and improved fleet management.

"We wanted to stretch and challenge ourselves to innovate in new ways," John Deere Construction and Forestry global director of product engineering Doug Meyer says.

"We worked closely with our backhoe customers to apply their input, and we leveraged jobsite visits and qualitative research to ensure the Fixstern solutions address future customer and industry needs in performance, efficiency, and environmental compliance."

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