The harshest and most challenging environments where joysticks and pedals are used have taught Caldaro a lot about how to design robust controllers that withstand both moisture and temperature fluctuations, chemicals and heavy usage.
Caldaro started as a sales company selling tailored control- and sensing products produced by the Japanese manufacturer Sakae, but as early as 1992, they designed their first palm joystick. Now they have been developing and designing industrial joysticks for thirty years, having a broad offering of their own developed premium products. Their philosophy is not to profit from development and prototyping but to cover their costs.
”It’s important that the customer feels it’s easy to contact us and try out ideas,” explains Claudio Talamo, CEO of Caldaro, ”this relationship is essential for building a good development climate. When we have created the perfect joystick for their needs, we start to earn money on the product.”
A longtime development partnership with Epiroc
One customer they have collaborated with for many years is Epiroc.
”We wanted a joystick with small dimensions,” says Rickard Egbäck, Epiroc, ”which means that the operator only needs to make small movements, and with good wrist support, to provide an ergonomic working environment. Small movements in a joystick with high resolution also have the advantage of giving an excellent feel when controlling drilling rigs.”
To the right is the cut-off Viper joystick, and to the left is the final Viper Slim resulting from that request from Epiroc.
”We liked the Viper because it has a good button module and can be configured in many different ways,” says Rickard. ”So we started by cutting a Viper down to the size we wanted. Then Caldaro took the development further up to the joystick we are now using. We like to maintain a dialogue to shorten development times, so we don’t get caught up in long processes. Caldaro is a partner that makes it possible to work flexibly because they always respond to our needs.”
The importance of listening to the customer
”We work closely with our customers and listen to what they need for their machines,” says Claudio. ”Our job is to ask questions, listen and make a real effort to understand precisely the challenges they face regarding joysticks and pedals.”
What then happens is that Caldaro adds their innovative magic, which consists of a curious, constructive, creative approach combined with broad experience from working with several industries and deep knowledge.
This is the Viper Slim Epiroc edition; a result of a development partnership.
They have a project model with specific steps to follow for more complicated design projects. Participating in the project group is the salesperson who got the request from the customer, a technical project leader, and sometimes one or more specialists if required. Then they, together with the customer, work through the steps of transforming the request into a project description, turning the description into a plan, working according to the plan, and finally delivering the product.
The DFMEA (Design Failure Modes Effects Analysis) is an integral part of the process. The Caldaro team tries to foresee all possible problems that could occur and then find a way to reduce each potential problem until they have a product that is not likely to fail at all.
”You can’t see all this when you look at one of our joysticks, but you will feel it when you start to work with it in your hand,” Claudio points out. ”Jony Ive, who was the chief designer at Apple, once said: ‘I think one of the things you get a sense of is the degree of care, how much did this group of people care to make this right.’ I think the experience of how well our joysticks work is similar to what he describes.”
This article has also been published in IVT International.