There have been a tremendous amount of technological advances in the last 100 years in practically every industry that is still performing a function in this country. We can talk about what's driven those changes — better steel, better plastic, computer-aided design — but a lot of it is due simply to communication. That's not to say that communication is simple — after a few years of marriage I am still trying to find the secret to seamless communication at home.
Proper communication between workers on a landscaping job in Charleston or a construction site in Las Vegas keeps the job moving along safely and efficiently. From a manufacturer's standpoint, talking with a customer helps ensure that the product the OEM invests its time and money into producing is one that the landscaper will actually want to buy.
Communication between OEMs and the supplier helps drive component development and ensure that the components are delivered on time.
Thanks to work performed by Bosch for the car industry, CAN bus systems make it possible for mobile off-highway machinery to communicate, as well. Using a linked network of controllers, mobile equipment is able to share important information with the driver or a mechanic about its own health. Those systems are also able to talk amongst themselves to find the most efficient way to operate the engine or send power to all six wheels.
Dump trucks used to be dumb machines, waiting for the driver to tell it what to do via inputs with the steering wheel, foot pedals or gear selector. Today, the machine automatically prevents operations that could be critical to safety and restrict performance. The driver may still tell the machine what to do, but through the electronic management of the drivetrain, for example, the power produced under the hood is transferred efficiently through all drive wheels to Earth, regardless of the condition of the surface.
Thanks to electronic communication systems, articulated dump trucks, such as the Norwegian-built Moxy MT 31 HL shown on the cover and on this page, are as easy to operate as the family car. The Moxy uses a ZF Ergopower 6WG 260 transmission to send power to all six wheels. ZF's electronics permit the transmission to stay connected with the engine.
As in a quarry, good communication allows each system including the operator to work in harmony on the articulated dump truck. Perhaps there's something to learn from the truck.