Digging Deeper

Mining technology pioneer 3D-P, led by CEO Evan Hansen, won’t stop working to create more-sophisticated software to further declutter heavy-equipment cabs

“Do you want to be a big piece of something small or a small piece of something big?” This was the decision Evan Hansen faced when deciding whether to merge Evtech, the tech company he founded, with another to form 3D-P. Choosing to be the small piece was the best decision Hansen ever made, and he has since returned to his place at the helm, recently becoming CEO of the mining-technology company. It continues to work to make its computing platforms smaller but ever more important pieces of heavy-equipment cabs, and here Hansen explains how that effort benefits and interests the mining industry as a whole.

“3D-P is still held by the original four owners, all of whom are active members of the board of directors. As one of the original owners and directors, my transition to CEO had been planned for several years. Until 2011, I served as VP of engineering. In 2012, I took on the role of executive VP and COO. This was to start a transition out of engineering and toward CEO.

One cannot be successful in a vacuum. It is the people and support that we surround ourselves with that mentor us, keep us on a path of continual learning, and make us successful. 3D-P has become a success because we are nimble in responding to the needs of our customers and the industry. It is my responsibility to ensure that, as the organization grows, we do not lose that.

OUTSIDE THE OFFICE

“My greatest passion outside of the office is fly fishing and hunting with my wife. Both of those things require singular focus of the mind for extended periods of time. They play a critical role in the success of my professional career, as they allow me to re-energize and return to the office with clarity of mind.”

3D-P manufactures Intelligent Endpoints, a line of ruggedized mobile computing platforms primarily targeting heavy equipment in harsh environments such as mining. The platforms include an array of interfaces, including serial ports, CAN ports, digital I/O, GPS, and a variety of wireless radio technologies. We have developed expertise designing wireless networks specifically for the challenges of open-pit mining. Our position is unique in the industry because our platform is much more than just a radio; it is an open computing platform that allows our customers or other third parties to run onboard applications and to interface to many machine systems. 3D-P is unique in providing this open platform, encouraging its use, and supporting third-party vendors in taking advantage of it.

The mining industry adopts new technology cautiously. It is a production environment, and equipment downtime is costly. With 20 years of experience involving a variety of technology projects at dozens of mine sites, I have unfortunately witnessed many examples where the full possible gain of the new technology implementation was never realized. This is often the result of poor integration of the new technology into other preexisting systems and processes.

This is one of the challenges that 3D-P tries to address with Intelligent Endpoints. We recognize that every mine is different and requires technology solutions tailored to it. We can achieve this through the use of our open platform and its capability for integrating disparate systems together.

Just one of 3D-P’s Intelligent Endpoints products can take the place and perform the functions of three or four bulkier pieces of equipment in a heavy-construction cab.
Just one of 3D-P’s Intelligent Endpoints products can take the place and perform the functions of three or four bulkier pieces of equipment in a heavy-construction cab.

Our Intelligent Endpoints, with their large array of interfaces and [openness] to third-party applications, reduce the technology clutter in the cabs of heavy equipment. A single 3D-P device can replace a data radio, a ruggedized switch, a computing platform for running applications, and multiple I/O devices. This reduces the device count and technology clutter. It also reduces the number of possible failure points and the maintenance required.

This year will see additional models added to the Intelligent Endpoint product line. Traditionally, our devices [have been] headless, but with the release of a product called One Display, we will support the integration of applications that require touch screens or tablets, allowing for a single display to the operator to be shared. This is the next logical step in reducing the technology clutter in the cab of a typical piece of heavy equipment. Today it is not unusual to see two, three, or even four displays surrounding an operator and occupying precious real estate in a very small cab. Our goal is to minimize that.

You always have to do right by your customer. As a small, growing company, we many times lacked the processes and controls of larger organizations, and as a result, we made mistakes. We never hid from those mistakes and were always quick to do what was required to fix them. We had many customers who would refer us to newer customers by telling them that ‘3D-P will always make it right for you.’”