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Thompson’s Mobile Simulator Offers New Way to Test Cat 140M Motorgrader

Wed November 21, 2007 - Southeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

There are times when taking a machine out to a site demonstration just isn’t feasible.

That’s where Dan Spence steps in.

The Thompson Machinery demonstration operator runs a 140M motorgrader simulator, which recently made an appearance at the grand opening of the CAT Rental Store in Nashville, Tenn.

“Between the transportation costs and clean up of an actual machine after a demo, it gets expensive to carry around a 140M motorgrader,” Spence said. “So we thought it would be more effective to build a simulator and take it on the road.”

The simulator allows potential buyers to feel what it’s like to control the motorgrader with two joysticks and no steering wheel.

“You have to give prospects a way to get a feel for how this thing works,” he said.

Spence recently took the simulator out to western Tennessee for six county highway superintendents and their operators, who were able to get familiar with the controls before a “live” demonstration in the field.

“It makes it a lot easier to familiarize yourself with the controls in the simulator before an actual run of the machine,” he said.

At one demonstration, Spence recalls 15 people standing around watching operators take turns in the simulator’s cab. “Everyone gets a good laugh if someone runs into something or does something wrong.”

The simulator is based on one that can be found at Cat’s headquarters in Peoria, Ill. It has been installed in a trailer instead of a classroom to make it mobile. Instead of an LCD screen, which would easily be damaged during travel, the image is projected via a computer system and presentation projector.

“There was a sizeable investment in this mobile simulator, but we feel it’s a great teaching and selling tool because this is a brand new thing to everybody — no one has ever run a motorgrader before without a steering wheel,” Spence said.

The older models have series of 12 or 13 levers and a steering wheel.

“The guy that runs the old machines is like an expert piano player. He doesn’t even look at the levers and knows what he’s doing without thinking about it,” Spence said. “The 140M motorgrader is completely different. The simulator is simply a way of teaching the old dogs new tricks.” CEG Staff

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