Loadrite make physical scales and hardware for wheel loaders, excavators and other heavy machinery. The physical scales measure the material in buckets of these machines and the weight of what’s in the bucket is displayed to operators through an interface inside the cab. Although it sounds like a niche product, it helps operators reduce waste onsite, improve efficiency and make sure the trucks they are filling don’t exceed their weight limits and become a danger to other operators on the road. These construction sites are complicated, multi-hazard environments, where operators are often working under time pressure.
Loadrite was moving from outdated hardware to an Android based system. This change in hardware gave us the opportunity to make the interface easier for operators to learn and use, to:
We love using our digital design skills in complex real-world environments to make life easier for people, so we jumped at the opportunity.
Although what the operators are doing seems simple - picking material up and putting it in a truck - in order to do it operators are trained on very complex machines. Our designs needed to take into account physical constraints, like wet or muddy hands, and reduce unnecessary distractions to support working in a stressful operating environment. We wanted to make the app as simple as possible, to help make these machines easier to use.
We carried out initial customer research on our concept designs in a real world context of quarries across Aotearoa, and remotely with Loadrite’s international customers. Research showed that on some sites operators are moving between different machines and tasks, so needed to re-learn the original scales interface when they came back to the wheel loaders. This leads to more experienced operators spending time re-teaching people how to use the interface. Operators also outlined the user flow they expected to work through, and improvements to the current interface they wanted to see.
Working closely with a wheel loader operator as a subject matter expert we progressed our concepts into detailed designs, and tested these with operators on-site and internationally. In these detailed designs we simplified workflows to make it easy for both new and experienced users. We also grouped content and made actions contextual to make things easier to find. Using colour helped communicate and reinforce information, so operators could be confident about what they needed to do next.
These designs were shared with the Loadrite development team, who developed the designs into an Android application. After a pilot across several quarries and construction sites, the system is now being rolled out throughout Aotearoa and internationally.
This was Loadrite's first experience working with external user experience designers and it was a big call for the organisation to make. However, our engagement with Jonathan and Steve from Purple Shirt has been fantastic. Right from the start of the project, they collaborated with us to gain a deep understanding of our users' needs and together we have crafted a truly world-class product that our customers are thrilled to use.