Caterpillar’s focus on advanced technology for construction
Caterpillar has not cut R&D spend, despite falling turnover
Caterpillar has seen a drop in its turnover due to tough conditions in many of its key markets but chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman is bullish about the firm’s future. Technology is the focus for Caterpillar and Oberhelman said, “We’ve always been the leader in construction iron and now we’ll be the leader in smart iron too. We’ve been offering connectivity solutions for years and we now have the largest connected industrial fleet for the industries we serve. Every machine and even drones can share information. We have 400,000 installed assets around the world and we have three million machines around the world. No firm has more connected machines than Cat.”
Rob Charter, Caterpillar’s group president customer & dealer support, commented, “We are in the middle of the next industrial revolution and Cat is leading the way. The technology can be factory-fitted or dealer-installed. We are using more technology to increase efficiency for customers right now.”
Fitted to an excavator used for fine grading this can increase efficiency and Charter added, “It can boost productivity up to 45%.” Meanwhile, when used on excavators and a dozer by a contractor in Italy, he said that this helped cut the time of the project from 19 months to just 15 months.
Oberhelman pointed out that, despite falling turnover, Caterpillar has not cut its spending on research and development. “In 2014, 2015 and 2016 we will maintain a $2 billion per year investment in research and development.”
He said too that the company intends to retain its leadership position as the world’s largest manufacturer of off-highway machines.
The pace of technological development is rapid, with autonomous machines now being used in the mining sector, such as two fleets of Caterpillar haul trucks operating in Australia’s Pilbara region. However Charter said, “I think it’ll be a long time before we see an unmanned road or bridge construction project.”