Miller Formless of McHenry, Illinois, celebrates its golden anniversary by reflecting on a reputation as solid as the concrete barriers molded by its slipform pavers.
Miller Formless slipform pavers have molded many miles of curbs, gutters, and barrier walls over the past five decades. Taking credit for this work is a trio of slipform pavers that have been product mainstays since their initial introduction. The ever-popular M-1000 curb and gutter machine was developed in 1975; the M-8100 made its debut in 1981; and the M09900 followed in 1988.
While the model numbers have remained the same through the years, the paver's capabilities only continue to improve. Miller Formless is a company that leans on the experience of seasoned employees and millennial talent to lead the company into the future.
Lead engineer Lucas Matthys is one of those millennials, and he's been working closely with his team to enhance the safety and efficiency of the company's slipform pavers. One major advancement includes the addition of operator remote control on both the M-1000 and M-8100. Operators can use the remote control to load and unload the pavers during transport to attach concrete molds.
Another recent improvement includes the addition of a control system to make 3D stringless paving possible. Just as the name implies, stringless technology replaces the traditional stringline with an electronic tracking process that controls the horizontal and vertical operation of the slipform paver. More contractors are adopting stringless technology to reduce labor and time required to stake out jobsites with traditional stringlines and pins.
Just as slipform technologies advance, so do the technologies and capabilities of the John Deere industrial engines that have powered Miller Formless machines for decades.
"John Deere engines have powered our slipform pavers for about 40 years, and exclusively for 25 years," says Darick Franzen, vice president of business development for North America. "That's some pretty good history for both companies."
Superior Diesel, established in 1977, is a longtime distributor of John Deere engines and has supported Miller Formless through each rising tier of emissions standards. This includes offering engineering support and designing custom engine packages.
Last year, Miller Formless transitioned to Final Tier 4 engines, installing PowerTech™PWL 4.5L industrial engines in the M-1000 and PowerTech PSL 4.5L industrial engines in the M-8100 and M-8800. Superior Diesel worked closely with Franzen's engineering team to reduce the height of the engines so they would fit under the existing hood.
"We had to move some components, but Superior Diesel was a big help in that," says Lucas Matthys. "They gave us 3D models and were willing to make modifications to the engine package."
Tod Smith, vice president of sales for Miller Formless, has been a witness to the performance of the John Deere engines. "I spend a lot of time in the service department, and I have huge confidence in John Deere products," says Smith. "Previously we used the John Deere 4045 series engine, and it's a very proven power source. While the Final Tier 4 technology is new to our brands, it's not new to John Deere. It's proven out long before we put it into our machines."
Superior Diesel provides Miller Formless with a "drop-in ready" industrial power unit, complete with a John Deere-manufactured Funk pump drive. Smith says the pump drives have proven themselves over the years. "We've used other pump drives and had issues with bearing failures and splines wearing out. The Funk pump drives are very simple and very reliable; I wouldn't go with anything else, to be honest with you."
Slipformers continue to make inroads into the international marketplace. As Miller Formless looks to broaden its global presence, John Deere service and support grow increasingly important.
"When new customers ask what we have for engines, we tell them that we're using John Deere, and they find a certain amount of comfort in that because they know they have good support through the John Deere dealer network," says Smith.
The relationship that's formed between the two companies sets them up for success in the years to come, says Franzen. He also recognizes the many loyal customers who continue to operate John Deere-powered slipform pavers after many years.
"We have machines that are 20-plus years old that are still running today on the interstates and roads of America and around the globe. They are the builders of our world's road infrastructure," says Franzen. "The fact that they use our products makes us pretty proud."
Franzen is also proud of the employees who will carry Miller Formless into the future. "We are a very entrepreneurial group," he says. "Fifty years from now, we still want to be leaders in slipform concrete paving. That desire will never go away."
While the Final Tier 4 technology is new to our brands, it's not new to John Deere. It's proven out long before we put it into our machines.