Bobcat has introduced the MaxControl remote control system, allowing users to control compact loaders using an iPhone or iPad. Notably, it is compatible with all Bobcat loaders with Selectable Joystick Controls (SJC), available since 2004. Alongside the iOS app, an Android version will be available in the near future.
“The jobsite of the future is a more connected place and gamification will play a vital role. Changing demographics and consumer preferences are pushing our industry into categories that have been unheard of or have been poorly addressed in the machinery sector. At the same time, the need to address environmental impact, safety and elimination of downtime has become paramount,” said Vijayshekhar Nerva, head of innovation and acceleration for Doosan Bobcat EMEA.
“Our Innovation team has delivered a solution that is complex enough to improve productivity on the job site and at the same time, packaged to be accessible and simple to use. MaxControl was born out of these ideals and changing preferences to address our ability to not just keep up but keep ahead of the competition in both ‘the Iron’ as well as the Digital side of our business.”
Operators can reportedly control the loader via their phones within seconds and the company adds that because MaxControl is app-based, the newest features will be accessible as soon as they are available. Additional benefits are said to be that operators can take advantage of different vantage points, especially when working in tight areas. When carrying large loads, the system will also help to eliminate blind spots, while operators can also interact face-to-face with colleagues to increase organisation and safety.
Mr Nerva added: “Bobcat has much wider plans for the MaxControl system. We are looking to make MaxControl a simple modular solution, with one hardware box for the groundwork, laying the foundation for other features. Remote operation is the first feature and we are looking into adding more in the future such as Object Avoidance and Semi-Autonomy.”
Some tasks that would have previously required two people, may now only need a solo operator, such as loading a Bobcat loader onto a trailer. Operators can also dig posts or install fences without getting in and out of the cabin, and finish tasks such as backfilling by controlling a second machine from the cab.
It’s also possible to synchronise the app with multiple machines, switching between units as required. The system uses a wif-fi system to communicate with the customer’s iOS device and operates in a range of up to 100m. In remote areas with poor connectivity, the system keeps the operator logged on for 12 hours of operations.
Other features include:
- Machine diagnostics to communicate all important information about the carrier.
- Peer-to-Peer Sharing – Multiple end-users can be given access to the machine, enabling a quick change of operators in case of any customer requirements.
- Error Codes – Identify errors with ease from the service codes popping up directly on the phone.
- Hours of Operation – Track how many hours a machine has been in operation.
- Retrofittable to all SJC Loaders from J to R-Series machines.
- Upgradable software, with more features coming soon.
The system has been well received by the first customers in Europe, including the first installations in Spain and Germany.
“It’s fantastic, very easy to assemble and disassemble, and to use – it’s like driving a remote-controlled car, but always with great care,” said Eduard Heredia, manager of Obras y Construcciones Corbera.
“In just a few hours I had mastered the operation of the loader through my own iPhone – I would definitely highlight the safety aspects. The MaxControl system is very useful and versatile as I can use it with the bucket or with a variety of Bobcat attachments to carry out different tasks safely such as clearing brush or using a wheel saw. Also, I only have a Bobcat tracked loader at the moment, but in the future, I might buy a skid-steer model and I will be able to work with the MaxControl with both machines.”
Poth Garten + Landschaftsbau specialises in clearing work and planting in parks, cemeteries and playgrounds. Markus Poth, the company’s owner and managing director, said: “The set-up was child’s play and very intuitive. You simply connect the device to the machine via the joystick control and a remote dashboard forms and is displayed on the smartphone. Thanks to this flexibility, the operator can simply start the machine, pull out his mobile phone and control the machine remotely. Switching back to manual driving is just as quick.”
“MaxControl provides us with two extra hands, saving time and money. It solves the problem of constantly getting on and off the machine for certain jobs, such as loading materials or driving over ramps. It is easy and intuitive to use and has a range of up to 100 m. I could also very well imagine using the MaxControl in combination with our Bobcat machines when supporting archaeological excavations.
“The hardware can be easily updated as well. This is a promising system that offers many new application possibilities that are not offered by other manufacturers. I would be happy if it became standard for all larger machines,” said Mr Poth.
For more information go to www.bobcat.com