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Joel Honeyman

Joel Honeyman, vice president of global innovation, Doosan Bobcat North America: The Midwest meets the innovation challenge

WEST FARGO, N.D. – On a jobsite not far from here, a Bobcat compact track loader recently was performing some grading work. The operator had been working for a few hours and was making good progress.

Around 11 a.m., he noticed an error code on the instrument panel. About 10 miles away, a fleet management system at the local Bobcat dealership notified a sales specialist of the fault code on that same machine.

Within five minutes, the machine’s owner got a call from the dealership. The sales specialist had his service department send a service truck to the customer’s jobsite.

After tests and an inspection, the technician found a small malfunction that could have crippled the machine had it gone unaddressed much longer.

The fault code and the attentive sales specialist saved this owner thousands of dollars in machine repairs, downtime and project delays.

This is just one example of how technology is transforming construction jobsites, and many may not realize this transformation is taking place thanks to technological advances occurring right here in the Midwest.

For instance, the research and development of fleet tracking technologies, like the one used in the above example, currently takes place at Doosan Bobcat’s North Dakota facilities in Bismarck, Gwinner and West Fargo. Our Acceleration Center in Bismarck serves as our key cross-functional development facility for initial design, prototype engineering, prototype manufacturing, computer simulation and testing of ideas and concepts.

The facility is equipped with state-of-the-art tools and software that expedite leading-edge product and process development.

We live in an on-demand, highly connected world. The customers who buy our machines expect to have the latest and greatest technology at their fingertips, whether it’s in their iPhone, their new truck or a Bobcat compact track loader. That’s why software engineers have become as critical in our product development as mechanical engineers.

Not long ago, this type of cutting-edge work would have been exported to a regional tech hub such as Silicon Valley. But communication and technology advances have eliminated geographic barriers.

For example, we recently started to collaborate with a company that is headquartered in Switzerland, runs a development team in Russia and has a business office in San Francisco. We have worked with representatives from all three locations, and we’re developing the prototype for this project right in here in North Dakota.

That kind of partnership was unheard of until recently.  

But that’s an extreme example. More often than not, we don’t have to go that far to find the help we need. We partner with a number of local technology companies that are instrumental in helping us create the most technologically advanced compact equipment in the world.

Smart young people no longer have to bolt for the coasts or the big city to take full advantage of their talents.  

The larger point is that innovation is no longer isolated, and rightly so. Innovation is an expectation, and we have to be able to execute it here and deliver the results across the world.

There are fewer barriers than ever to doing that from North Dakota. Which just means our customers’ expectation that we deliver innovative solutions has never been higher.

The jobsites our customers have known for more than 50 years will be much different just five, 10 or 15 years from now. They will be smarter. They will be safer. They will be more efficient. Some will even be autonomous.

And in the case of those that have Bobcat machines operating on them, the jobsites of the future will run on North Dakota innovation.

Joel Honeyman

Vice President of Global Innovation

Doosan Bobcat North America

West Fargo, N.D.