The ROC in a hard place

Arizona isn’t known for its hospitable climate, which is what makes it the ideal location for Doosan’s equipment test facility.

The ROC (Real Operation Center), located at the ASARCO Mission Mine south of Tucson in the Sonoran Desert, is where Doosan invites its staff and potential customers to test drive their full line of heavy equipment.    

“It’s a tough terrain to operate in. The ground is really hard and compact, and it’s hot,” said Chad Kurle, training site manager for The ROC. “You’re dealing in some of the tougher environments that you would have to operate in with these machines.”

With ambient air temperatures reaching 44 C, Doosan is able to prove its equipment’s endurance.

“It gives people the opportunity to really put the machines through their paces,” Kurle said. “It’s the worst of circumstances. It’s the toughest of environments that you’re going to put these machines into and it shows it can do the work in this environment.”

Doosan’s equipment oasis 

Aside from rigorous test grounds, Arizona’s climate has other advantages from a sales perspective. For example, the weather is consistent and rainfall is a rarity, allowing events to operate uninterrupted.

“In the middle of winter, for the majority of the United States and Canada, they have a chance for more downtime,” said Doosan’s marketing manager Aaron Kleingartner. “That’s a good time when we can bring them to Tucson. It can be a little slower from a work perspective.”

The ASARCO Mission Mine is a 20,000 acre copper mine, with an active pit spanning more than 9.6 sq. km. In 2014, the mine produced 133 million pounds of copper. With The ROC located on the tailings of an active mine, the ground is consistent for digging and testing.

“It’s been turned up in the mining process. Once you dig in it, three weeks to a month later, depending on the weather, it’s almost like its virgin ground again. It packs itself,” Kleingartner said.

“Customers get a very consistent experience when they come here.”

While the earth is consistent, it is also abrasive and harsh on the equipment.

“It gives them an accelerated testing environment from the sales side,” Kleingartner said.

Each year, The ROC will host eight to 10 customer experiences, where sales staff and equipment buyers from across North America spend a day testing heavy equipment.

“We do a welcome dinner and then spend a day out at The ROC and give them a chance to operate and spend some time with the equipment,” Kurle said, noting Canadian customers often attend the event. “The Canadian dealers are strong supporters of The ROC.”

A trip to test drive

The ROC also assists dealers when a customer asks about a particular piece of equipment that is not in their fleet.

“We’ll bring that customer down to The ROC and give them the opportunity to try that machine,” Kurle said. “It’s expensive to get a machine from where it’s at to Toronto. So it’s cheaper to fly you down. You can spend the day operating all the machines that you want. We do a fair number of those and have had success with it.”

Intense training

For Doosan personnel, The ROC hosts week-long boot camps to better familiarize staff with the company’s crawler and wheel excavators, log loaders, wheel loaders, material handlers and articulated dump trucks.

“They’re learning about features and benefits of the equipment and how that applies to certain markets and applications within our industry,” Kleingartner said. “They also get a chance to run the equipment and really get a feel for what the equipment capabilities are.

“It’s a pretty intensive course of getting to know as much as you can about the equipment.”

Off the line testing

The site also allows the North American division of Doosan to test new equipment from the company.  When a new machine arrives, similar models from competitors are brought to the site for side-by-side comparison. As well, third party operators are recruited to conduct the product testing.

“Often, we will get a prototype in, or we will get some of the first ones off the line,” Kurle said. “We’ll run them through their bases and compare our machines with what’s out there in the marketplace.”

Doosan operates similar facilities in its native South Korea as well as Prague, Czech Republic.

The ROC originally opened as a research and development test facility for Bobcat. Doosan joined the site in 2011.

“They do a lot of heat testing here at the Bobcat facility, just to get a feel for ambient air temperature and what those effects have on running equipment,” Kleingartner said, noting Doosan’s R&D is hosted closer to its manufacturing facilities.

Regardless of why someone visits The ROC, Kurle said he believes they walk away with an understanding that Doosan is a quality product.

“Even with some of the new sales people that come down, they recognize that Doosan puts out a really high-quality product,” he said.

“A product that competes with the competitors out there.”