John Deere Backhoe of the Future Concept Targets Weight Reduction

22nd March 2017

Design consultancy and BMW Group subsidiary, Designworks has presented an innovative look into the future of construction vehicles at the CONEXPO-CON/AGG event in Las Vegas. The backhoe concept leverages emerging materials and technology innovations to dramatically reconfigure a traditional backhoe design, while also achieving a significant reduction in product weight.

John Deere and Designworks set an ambitious goal for the project – to design a highly capable and robust future piece of equipment while reducing weight by a minimum of 20 percent and the equipment’s environmental impact by a minimum of 10 percent.

A hybrid powertrain delivers power, efficiency and light weighting without compromising productivity. It also enables a lower center of gravity and improves forward visibility. The design incorporates forward stabilizers, enabling an extended wheelbase with airless radial tires, which in-turn improves transport stability and expands the operator station. Further weight savings would be achieved through the use of lightweight materials which help to reduce dig component weight and translates directly into increased payloads. Finally, a lightweight metal matrixed exoskeleton help achieve the light weighting goals.

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.

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

“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”, says Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design.