October 2014

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38 | www.cedmag.com | Construction Equipment Distribution | October 2014 A Closer Look "Sometimes you have to wonder, how did they come up with that?" Katie Herriges, marketing design coordinator for Manitou Group, thus voices underlying consternation about insipid product names for construction equipment. Dullness is the rule, with most titling of equipment employing nondescript combinations of letters and numbers. If galvanizing names for heavy equipment models is too much to ask, how about clarity? Workers chatting in a workroom or executives talking shop in an equipment manager's office can't converse about a model 135 without first establishing if they mean a JCB 135 (skid-steer loader), Link-Belt 135 (excavator), or Caterpillar 135 (motor grader). Of course, if only one machine sits in the equipment yard, model numbers don't matter. In that case, talk is about the skid steer, excavator, or grader. But when a fleet of machines crowds a contractor's yard, things get interesting. "Go get the 316, Hank," a foreman might imprecisely say, and Hank is liable to crank up a Cat excavator, Bobcat mini- excavator, or Kramer wheel loader of that designation. (And if Hank doesn't hear well, he might errantly power up a John Deere 315 skid steer.) Image vs. Tech Data The business-to-business market in which construction OEMs battle for market share is not the same as the consumer market. Everyone understands that. B2B is deemed to be a relatively rational marketplace, with techni- cal features and durability generally more important than style and other superficial considerations, such as a pro- duct's name. Yet OEMs would chafe at the suggestion that their designers pay no mind to style. Most equipment might come in one color, a shade of yellow, but look at some of those cab shapes and engine hoods and ask yourself if the swoops and tucks and venting are purely functional. The The Name Game How come such a fun and hulky industry like construction equipment generally leans toward the bland for its machine monikers? (albeit with some exceptions) And what about naming standardization for the sake of customers? CED takes a lighthearted look at the logic behind the labels. BY GILES LAMBERTSON

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