Bobcat outlines plan to reinvent the compact equipment industry

Bobcat's new R-Series T76 compact track loader
By Bill Tremblay

Bobcat’s new “Next is Now” philosophy is guiding the company’s direction to renewing what the company stands for, as well as its plan to reinvent compact equipment.

The compact equipment manufacturer outlined its reinvention plan during a press conference held at its new training centre in Aurora, Colorado on Sept 17.

“There’s this defined square that says, ‘this is compact equipment.’ So, we say, ‘who defined that?’ We’re the ones that created it 61 years ago,” said Scott Park, CEO of Doosan Bobcat.

“Somehow, we’ve put ourselves into that little square, so we’re going to break that square.”

Going forward, Bobcat is promising to introduce numerous new products, attachments and technology.

“And it’s going to come quick. The drum beat is actually going to be faster. We’re changing our culture and stepping boldly into new categories,” Park said.

“And guess what? We’re going to fail too, and its OK. We’re going to launch things and we’re going to pull things back.”

While Next is Now will alter Bobcat’s path, not everything will change. Park noted the company experienced its best two years of financial performance in its history in 2017 and 2018.

“It’s not about destroying all the good work and all the good foundation we’ve put in place over the first 60 years, it’s about looking at what’s next,” Park said.

“For me it was about, yes, let’s keep that going, but we need change. The world is changing around us.”

Doosan Bobcat CEO Scott Park

Bobcat enters new equipment segments

For equipment, Bobcat is entering new spaces. During the press conference, the company introduced its largest excavator to date, the 14 tonne E145, as well as a new small articulated loader and its completely redesigned R-Series compact loaders.

As well, Bobcat launched a new line of compact tractors. The 15 machine tractor line ranges from 21 to 58 hp.

RELATED: The E145: Bobcat’s biggest excavator to date

“Our goal is to lead the entire compact equipment space,” said Mike Ballweber president of Doosan Bobcat. “More frequent product updates and innovative designs will force our competitors to play catch up.”

Next is Now is also focusing on technological innovation and digitalization.

“This is something we can’t hide from,” Park said. “We’re pursuing partnerships in Silicon Valley. We’re taking ownership positions, we’re connecting machines, we’re utilizing big data and we’re servicing our customers in different ways.”

Remote operation

For example, Bobcat MaxControl Remote Operation allows the operation of Bobcat loaders via an iPhone or iPad. MaxControl aims to transform two-person jobs into single-worker tasks, so customers can accomplish more with a smaller crew. The iOS feature is available on M2-Series and R-Series compact loaders with Selectable Joystick Controls.

“We know the path forward includes embracing new technologies and innovation as well as product launches,” Ballweber said.

“We’re focused on making the next 60 years more successful than the previous 60 years.”

Bobcats new training centre in Aurora, Colorado.

New Bobcat training centre

To ensure its employees stay up to date with its equipment, Bobcat has opened a new 4,100 square metre training centre in Aurora, Colorado.

“With product innovation, we also need training innovation,” said Gary Hornbacher, Bobcat’s vice president of channel development and training.

Students will learn in the classroom and through simulations in interactive labs. They will also have the ability to apply what they’ve learned to Bobcat products. The training centre provides specialized skills training such as troubleshooting and diagnostics, new technician onboarding, selling skills and more. Each year, the centre will operate for about 33 weeks and welcome about 1,000 of the 2,800 technicians that work for Bobcat in North America.

“The opening of this training centre represents an important step for Doosan Bobcat and it’s our first facility in the State of Colorado,” Ballweber said.

Investment and acquisition

Looking outside of Bobcat, Park said the company plans to invest more in the future, as well as expand its manufacturing footprint. Furthermore, the company will begin taking a closer look at acquisitions.

“We’ve always looked at acquisitions, but never really pulled the trigger on one,” Park said. “But we’re going to continue to look, whether that’s for product, software, attachments or different capabilities.”

Overall, Bobcat’s reinvented approach is to ensure it evolves to meet current and future challenges faced by its customers, and not only in construction, but across all compact equipment.

“Change is inevitable. And change is something that we need to digest and lead,” Park said. “We need to get comfortable with change and over the last few years we’ve built a culture of change.”