30 August 2022

Reasoner Grading of Creighton, Missouri takes on a variety of commercial, residential and utility grading projects, but one area the company has started to carve a niche for itself is in the development/restoration of small lakes and ponds — both for recreational and public works purposes.

A local municipality recently purchased a small lake to add to its park system, and Reasoner Grading was contracted to help return what was a neglected patch of land into something that would both be functional and appealing to local residents.

“We do this work [because everyone] can share the experience with all their friends, and then we take care of the utility side of things, so that we can improve people’s water quality, their overall life and help the community grow,” says Zac Reasoner, co-owner of Reasoner Grading.

This particular project allowed Reasoner to deploy one of the industry’s newest machines and newest product categories — the CASE Minotaur DL550 compact dozer loader — to significantly reduce the amount of time it took him to do the job, and to simplify the overall deployment of equipment out to the site.

“Before Minotaur, we’d have had a large dozer out here, a skid steer, and a mid-sized excavator to handle the workload that would need to be done,” he says. “[Doing it with] one machine was so much easier because you could just send one person, and we cut down a bunch of hillsides that took a third [of the time] we originally thought it would have with the scope of equipment that we need by being able to bring in that one machine, just stay in the one machine, and continue doing what you need to do.”

“The mobility of it is so much easier. You can use a pickup and a one-ton with a heavy gooseneck compared to a lowboy, and the fuel savings is just amazing; what you can save on not having two or three pieces of equipment to do what the one can, and just the overall labor. I can continue on other places with different projects going on and not having as much manpower on one site.”

“We completed the project definitely faster than we would have — just having the one operator here and being able to move on to other projects.”

What is a Minotaur?

The CASE Minotaur DL550 compact dozer loader is a first-of-its-kind machine and equipment category hitting CASE dealers now. It features a fully integrated C-frame with six-way blade that connects back into the chassis of the machine. This design provides the stability and smooth operating plane of a small dozer while ensuring that all operating power is channeled through the whole body of the machine. This establishes greater performance and long-term reliability compared to the simple combination of a dozer blade attachment and a traditional compact track loader. The C-frame and six-way blade can then be disconnected, and the machine can couple up to hundreds of attachments available for other front-end loaders such as skid steers, compact track loaders and compact wheel loaders. “On the dozer side of it, you can move the material that you need to quicker — it’s more agile,” says Reasoner. “The mobility of it is just so much easier when you have a project that’s not huge, but you still need a dozer. Then, the versatility of it — when you’re done with the project, you load out the material that was leftover and continue on.”

The new machine measures out well as both a compact dozer and as a massive site loader: 18,600 pounds; drawbar pull up to 25,826 pounds; 5,500 pounds rated operating capacity (50 percent tipping load); and 140.2 inches of hinge pin height in a vertical lift design that makes it easy to load high-sided trucks. And, ultimately, the method of switching between configurations is intuitive and allows for easy changeover.

“It just takes a couple of minutes,” he says. “It’s amazing how simple it is.”

The Heart of a Dozer

Reasoner weighs the advantages of his full-sized dozer (40,000+ pounds at 185 horsepower) and the CASE Minotaur DL550 (18,000+ pounds at 114 horsepower) when attacking a job.

“We do a lot of large building pads for pole barns, metal buildings, and we normally take the large dozer there, because of the material it can push, but this is so much easier to move,” says Reasoner. “By the time you would move a large dozer, move the material, and then move it back, the Minotaur will take care of it all, and just the versatility of it is so much easier.”

And while the new machine operates in a more “compact” design, Reasoner says the dozing quality and accuracy is comparable to the full-size machine. The CASE Minotaur DL550 features CASE Universal Machine Control, which allows the machine to be outfitted with 2D and 3D machine control solutions from any of the major suppliers of machine control technology.

“You can operate in manual mode and get it close, then you turn on the grade control, and the speed of it is amazing,” he says. “You can just book right along and in no time everything’s graded really close, and then you throw your gravel down and grade that out, and you’re done. In no time at all.”

Even with the compact design of the machine, Reasoner says it feels like a true dozer, and part of that can be contributed to the control setup. The machine features electro-hydraulic dozer controls that adjust blade, steering and shuttle sensitivity to smooth, moderate or aggressive to meet the operator’s preference. Blade responsiveness can be further dialed in to operator preference by independently setting the speed of the blade tilt, lift and angle. The joysticks in the machine are also dozer-style, which adds to that familiarity and comfort for the operator.

“When you get in, you feel like you are in a dozer,” says Reasoner. “The visibility and comfort is impressive. The [rearview] camera is amazing. Everything is placed just right.”

One particular feature that Reasoner noted was the ability to switch between standard and max power modes when dozing. The max mode drives optimal horsepower to the tracks and the machine to push through tougher materials.

“You get into a hard push and it’s amazing what difference that power mode makes on pushing,” he adds. It’s just so much more on it — it puts that extra power to the ground to get it going.”

Big Loaders. Big Buckets.

The machine also comes with a massive 1.25-cubic-yard bucket that makes loadout faster and more efficient.

“It’s a beast,” says Reasoner. “The raw horsepower that you can put to the ground on the loader aspect of things, you can dig in hard dirt, hard clay that you would normally have an issue with – it’ll fight right through it and continue on. The bucket is amazing – you can heap that bucket and in no time at all you’ve got a truck loaded or you’ve got your project completed. It’s just amazing how much capacity it has.”

Ripping Away the Tough Material

In various areas of the job with tough soils and excessive roots, the team has deployed the fully integrated rear ripper — the first ripper of its kind featured on a “compact” machine. The ripper comes standard with three shanks but can be outfit with up to five. This has provided Reasoner another level of versatility not common with compact equipment.

“The ripper is quite impressive” he says. “The material we were in, you could bury the ripper and keep going, and it didn’t hardly ever slow down.”

Collaborative Fleet Management Technology Brings Peace of Mind

For contractors like Reasoner, with multiple sites and equipment spread out on each one, keeping track of each machine’s service intervals and performance isn’t always easy. One of the standout features of the Minotaur DL550 is the CASE SiteConnect Module, a powerful device that improves the volume, flow and integration of data to the CASE SiteWatch™ telematics platform for real-time monitoring and management of maintenance and service intervals, as well as the analysis of equipment utilization and performance.

It’s also the foundation from which CASE has made collaborative fleet management and remote diagnostics available on this machine. This enhanced connectivity allows the machine owner to share — with permission — real-time machine information with their CASE dealer and the CASE Uptime Center in Racine, Wis.

“We had an operator in it one day, and an alert was sent to the dealer,” says Reasoner. “They called me immediately and said ‘hey, it’s getting warm’. In no time at all, we had a solution, changed it and took care of the issue. I ended up getting this problem solved before it became a problem.”

The machine also delivers remote service capabilities through the CASE SiteManager App (iOS and Android). This app pairs the operator’s phone or device to the machine to enable remote analysis by a certified CASE technician, which allows them to diagnose the health of each connected machine through parameter readings and fault codes. The technician makes a determination as to whether the issue can be addressed remotely – such as clearing codes or updating software – or if it requires a trip to the machine.

Overall, Reasoner has seen the practical benefits and versatility of this first-of-its-kind machine in this lake restoration project, and in the other projects he’s deployed it on so far.

“A machine like this, you can send one person out to do a job that would normally take two or three — you can get in that machine and set everything up as you need, and then away you go,” says Reasoner. “You can free up the manpower to do the other projects you need to get done. Overall it’s going to save time and money. The big thing is fuel and manpower. You can keep going.”

Executive Summary of Benefits Provided by the CASE Minotaur DL550 on this Project

  • Completed job faster and ahead of schedule
  • Able to transport fewer machines to jobsite
  • Able to transport equipment to site easier (pickup truck and gooseneck vs. lowboy)
  • Complete job with fewer laborers on site
  • Equipment and laborers that would have worked this site are making progress on another site
  • One machine performing the work centralizes the fuel use and wear and tear to a single piece of equipment, helping save fuel, hours and wear on other machines (simplified long-term fleet management)

By Jeff Jacobsmeyer, product manager, CASE Construction Equipment