Truck Manufacturing Moves To U.S. Caterpillar Facility

Did you see last week’s big news? We’re bringing Cat Truck design and manufacturing in house! The transition will take a little time, but when it’s complete, the CT660, CT680, CT681 and any future models will be built in an existing Caterpillar facility in Victoria, Texas. Here’s a bit more detail for you:

Why bring design and manufacturing in house?
It’s part of our commitment to grow our presence in the vocational truck industry and to provide you with the best solutions. Chris Chadwick, Caterpillar’s director of the Global On-Highway Truck Group, had this to say about the decision:

“We appreciate the collaboration we have had with Navistar, but as we look to future launches of new truck models, this updated strategy will better position us to continue to provide our customers with the best products and service for this market. Caterpillar continues to drive the design phase of all models, both current and planned. We spent hundreds of hours on the road asking customers to describe the ideal truck. We know what customers want and need—from functionality of the truck itself to comfort in the cab. We plan to provide that as we grow this product offering to meet our customers’ needs.”

Why manufacture in Victoria, Texas?
The Caterpillar Victoria facility has a great team and outstanding reputation for quality. Just ask Ed O’Neil, general manager for Excavator Operations in Victoria

“The Victoria facility was selected because of our team’s proven record of building high-quality Cat products, our commitment to safety, our successful implementation of the Caterpillar Production System and lean manufacturing. In addition, support from the community and its excellent skilled workforce, as well as the proximity to suppliers, were also strongly considered.”

We’re excited to bring Cat Truck manufacturing back to the U.S. and to create about 200 new jobs in the Victoria area over the next few years.

What’s the timeframe?
The manufacturing transition will start right away, and we expect production to begin in Victoria in the first half of 2016. In the meantime, you have our commitment to keep producing high-quality Cat Trucks to meet your needs—and you can count on ongoing dealer support for any trucks you already own.

More questions? Check out our Cat Truck Q&A page for answers or ask your dealer. You can also submit questions on Facebook and Twitter using hashtag #CTQA. And watch this space over the next few months for more updates!

Caterpillar Announces New Strategy for Vocational Truck Product Family

Company to Bring Production of Trucks to a U.S. Caterpillar Facility

PEORIA, Ill. – Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) today announced it will begin independently designing and manufacturing its vocational truck product family at its plant in Victoria, Texas. The plant, which opened in 2012, currently produces hydraulic excavators.

“The on-highway vocational truck product family is important to our product line; customers like our trucks and want to include them in their fleets in a variety of heavy duty applications such as dump trucks, mixers, haulers or one of the other configurations we offer,” said Chris Chadwick, Caterpillar’s director of the Global On-Highway Truck Group. “To continue to provide the best solution for our customers, we will bring the design and manufacturing of this product into Caterpillar, and the production specifically to Victoria. Our updated strategy reaffirms our commitment to grow and develop our presence in the vocational truck industry moving forward.”

Caterpillar launched its first vocational truck, the CT660, in the North American market in 2011. Two more models have since been added to the lineup, the CT680 and CT681. To date, Caterpillar has worked with Navistar for the products’ design and build, which are currently manufactured in Escobedo, Mexico.

“We appreciate the collaboration we have had with Navistar,” Chadwick said. “As we look to future launches of new truck models, this updated strategy will better position us to help provide our customers with the best products and services for this market. Caterpillar continues to drive the design phase of all models, both current and planned. Before launching the product, we spent hundreds of hours on the road with customers, asking them to describe the ideal truck. We know what they want and need – from functionality of the truck itself to comfort in the cab. We plan to meet and exceed those expectations as we grow this product offering to fulfill our customers’ needs.”

The transition process will begin immediately, with production expected to begin in the first half of next year. Caterpillar Victoria will continue to produce excavators, and the addition of the vocational truck production is expected to add around 200 new jobs at the facility.

“Caterpillar Victoria is proud to be a part of this opportunity,” commented Ed O’Neil, general manager for Operations for the Excavation Division. “The Victoria facility was selected because of our team’s proven record of building high-quality Cat® products, our commitment to safety, our successful implementation of the Caterpillar Production System and Lean manufacturing. In addition, support from the community and its excellent skilled workforce, as well as the proximity to suppliers, also contributed to the sourcing decision.”

Caterpillar dealers will continue to sell and support Cat vocational trucks.

About Caterpillar:
For 90 years, Caterpillar Inc. has been making sustainable progress possible and driving positive change on every continent. Customers turn to Caterpillar to help them develop infrastructure, energy and natural resource assets. With 2014 sales and revenues of $55.184 billion, Caterpillar is the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives. The company principally operates through its three product segments – Construction Industries, Resource Industries and Energy & Transportation – and also provides financing and related services through its Financial Products segment. For more information, visit caterpillar.com. To connect with us on social media, visit caterpillar.com/social-media.

Forward-Looking Statements
Certain statements in this Release relate to future events and expectations and are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as “believe,” “estimate,” “will be,” “will,” “would,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “plan,” “project,” “intend,” “could,” “should” or other similar words or expressions often identify forward-looking statements. All statements other than statements of historical fact are forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, statements regarding our outlook, projections, forecasts or trend descriptions. These statements do not guarantee future performance, and we do not undertake to update our forward-looking statements.

Caterpillar’s actual results may differ materially from those described or implied in our forward-looking statements based on a number of factors, including, but not limited to: (i) global and regional economic conditions and economic conditions in the industries we serve; (ii) government monetary or fiscal policies and infrastructure spending; (iii) commodity price changes, component price increases, fluctuations in demand for our products or significant shortages of component products; (iv) disruptions or volatility in global financial markets limiting our sources of liquidity or the liquidity of our customers, dealers and suppliers; (v) political and economic risks, commercial instability and events beyond our control in the countries in which we operate; (vi) failure to maintain our credit ratings and potential resulting increases to our cost of borrowing and adverse effects on our cost of funds, liquidity, competitive position and access to capital markets; (vii) our Financial Products segment’s risks associated with the financial services industry; (viii) changes in interest rates or market liquidity conditions; (ix) an increase in delinquencies, repossessions or net losses of Cat Financial’s customers; (x) new regulations or changes in financial services regulations; (xi) a failure to realize, or a delay in realizing, all of the anticipated benefits of our acquisitions, joint ventures or divestitures; (xii) international trade policies and their impact on demand for our products and our competitive position; (xiii) our ability to develop, produce and market quality products that meet our customers’ needs; (xiv) the impact of the highly competitive environment in which we operate on our sales and pricing; (xv) failure to realize all of the anticipated benefits from initiatives to increase our productivity, efficiency and cash flow and to reduce costs; (xvi) additional restructuring costs or a failure to realize anticipated savings or benefits from past or future cost reduction actions; (xvii) inventory management decisions and sourcing practices of our dealers and our OEM customers; (xviii) compliance with environmental laws and regulations; (xix) alleged or actual violations of trade or anti-corruption laws and regulations; (xx) additional tax expense or exposure; (xxi) currency fluctuations; (xxii) our or Cat Financial’s compliance with financial covenants; (xxiii) increased pension plan funding obligations; (xxiv) union disputes or other employee relations issues; (xxv) significant legal proceedings, claims, lawsuits or government investigations; (xxvi) changes in accounting standards; (xxvii) failure or breach of IT security; (xxviii) adverse effects of unexpected events including natural disasters; and (xxix) other factors described in more detail under “Item 1A. Risk Factors” in our Form 10-K filed with the SEC on February 17, 2015 for the year ended December 31, 2014.

Six Tips to Make Sure Your A/C Keeps its Cool

It’s summer, and the last thing you want on a hot, humid day is to be stuck inside a truck with no air conditioning—especially if you can’t open your windows on the jobsite. The best way to ensure your A/C is running efficiently is to get it professionally serviced before hot weather hits. That typically includes a check of the refrigeration charge, cleanliness of condensor-evaporator cores, recirculation filter, receiver dryer and vents. Then, follow these six simple steps to keep your cool all summer long.

1. Change your vent control.
Set it to the “summer” position—done!

2. Test your blower.
Make sure you run the blower at all speeds—and be sure to both listen and feel for changes in the air flow at each setting. Then, idle your truck and make sure the air conditioning fan keeps running at a steady rate.

3. Check your recirculation filter.
Clean out any dirt or lint you find in the filter. If you can’t clean it, that means it’s time for a new one. Also remember that you may need to inspect and replace this filter more often if you work in a dusty, dirty environment. (FYI, you’ll find the recirculation filter underneath the passenger seat in the Cat® Truck.)

4. Clean your condenser.
For the condenser to do its job as a heat exchanger properly, good air flow is essential. So check it often. Get rid of any debris, small rocks or bugs that may get caught inside and restrict air flow.

5. Inspect your hoses and drive belt.
Make sure all hoses, lines and fittings are secure. If hoses appear worn, replace them—the same goes for any broken lines and fittings. You also want to take a good look at the condition of the drive belt. Again, if it looks worn, you’re due for a replacement.

6. Park in the shade when you can.
That sounds like a no-brainer, but it can really make a difference on hot, sunny days. No shade? Turn on your A/C and roll down your windows for a few minutes when you start driving to let out the hot air. Can’t open the windows? You probably won’t melt. Cabin temperatures are designed to reach a comfortable level in five to eight minutes.

These six tips should keep you nice and cool during the dog days of summer. And remember, it’s never too late for a professional A/C service. Just ask your Cat dealer.

The Tide Waits for No Truck

Remember Win a Cat® Truck contest winner Coley Mulkern? Back in November 2011, more than 3,000 entrants competed for a brand-new Cat CT660 Vocational Truck, and Coley and his company—Lionel Plante Associates (LPA)—took home the grand prize. The folks at Milton Cat, LPA’s local dealer, recently checked in with Coley and provided this update:

“No passing, and no toll booths either. Instead, the Cat CT660 truck owned by Lionel Plante Associates spends a lot of time getting barged around from island to island, hauling drainage stone, seawall blocks, road gravel, winter sand and salt, waste-water drainage sand, topsoil and landscaping material. When it gets to its destination, off it goes to deliver its cargo, driving on rough and windy dirt roads and then back to the barge. Everything has to be perfectly planned and impeccably executed—the tide waits for no truck.

“It was four years ago, in November 2011, that LPA, one of over 3,000 contestants, won the Caterpillar ‘Win a Cat Truck’ contest, and time has not erased the smile from Coley Mulkern’s face. Actually, the very much hands-on CEO exudes the kind of energy that makes things happen and makes you want to be part of it, too. When we visited him to check on how his CT660 was doing, we were told that to see the truck in action we had to jump right then and there into one of LPA’s smaller boats to travel to another nearby island. Sorry, no time to grab a jacket; the truck could not be slowed down or it would miss high tide for its next delivery.

“Coley’s enthusiasm for his chosen way of life has spilled over to the younger generation. The pride and self-assurance with which his son Nathaniel and Coley’s nephew Matthew share their own LPA stories and plans for the company’s future is infectious.

“When we asked Coley for a summary of his CT660’s performance, he starts by telling us that the excitement generated by the contest has not completely died down. ‘We still get new customers who tell us that they heard about us because of the award; when I drive the truck in Portland, people wave at me!’

“Coley reminds us that the need for dependability, always a concern for a contractor, is increased even more when your territory is the islands of Casco Bay. ‘The simple task of delivering a load of material is a big deal for us; we have a very small window because of the tides, and failure becomes enormously expensive.’ He’s happy with the support he gets from our coworkers in Scarborough, and although he has not had any serious issues, he counts on them for scheduled maintenance. But the best compliment sure is this one—Coley has convinced a couple of his friends to buy Cat trucks, also; one of them, a Cape Elizabeth contractor, actually bought two.”

Click here for more pictures of LPA’s truck and its unique application.

Three Things To Know About The New CT680

The Cat® Vocational Truck family just added a new model—the CT680 recently joined the CT660 and CT681 in the line-up. There are plenty of detailed descriptions and specifications to review, but let us make it easy for you. Here are the top three things you need to know about this Class 8, set-forward-axle truck.

1. It works hard—and looks good doing it.
The CT680 stands up to big loads and tough applications without sacrificing comfort and appearance, thanks to a rugged exterior, attractive automotive styling and industry-leading materials, fit and finish. Its bold design will definitely set you apart from the crowd.

Plus, it comes with two exterior trim level options—L and LG—so you can choose the features that best fit your budget, style and serviceability needs. There’s also a dual external air cleaner option that lets you achieve efficient air management—and a stylish appearance—even in dirty, dusty applications.

2. It sets new standards for comfort and ride quality.
With its set-forward axle, parabolic taper leaf suspension, tuned cab air suspension system, and premium sound insulation and trim, the CT680 delivers industry-leading ride quality. And its wide, spacious interior offers all-day comfort, productivity and safety. It has all the features you’ve come to expect from Cat Truck cabs, including:
• An ergonomic dashboard and center stack
• Easy-to-read gauges
• Multiple seat options, including the Cat Comfort Seat
• Tilting, telescoping steering column with leather-wrapped steering wheel
• Plenty of storage and work-area lighting
• Excellent visibility

3. It saves you service time.
The CT680’s modular components—grille, grille surround, bumper and fender extensions—can be replaced individually and go back together looking brand new. Key service points like coolant, washer reservoirs and air filters are easy to access, too, and you can quickly replace headlight bulbs and windshield wiper blades without any tools.

Of course, like all Cat Truck models, the CT680 features a performance-matched engine and transmission, complimentary Cat Product Link, bumper-to-bumper service at Cat dealers across North America and much more. Explore all the features here http://www.drivecat.com/trucks/ct680

New York Town Takes On The Snow With Cat® CT681

Like much of the northeastern United States, the town of Afton, New York, was buried—literally—with snow during the winter of 2014-2015. Good thing the community had a new Cat® CT681 Vocational Truck on the job.

“The town wanted to borrow it for the Christmas parade,” says Kirk Hoyt, the truck’s operator. “We said they couldn’t—we were using it to plow snow!”

The CT681 replaced a 1986 truck that was beginning to cost a lot in terms of maintenance. Afton Highway Superintendent Lynn Shultis reached out to dealer Milton Cat after researching Caterpillar’s vocational truck offerings and was pleased to learn the truck could be spec’d just the way he wanted it.

After successfully navigating the government buying process, Shultis and his team took delivery of their new Cat Truck in early December—and almost immediately put it to work plowing snow. (It will haul stone and gravel the rest of the year.)

Because Afton’s four-person highway department is responsible for 63 miles of town roads and 30 miles of county roads, reliability and uptime are key. For Hoyt, who can spend up to 10 hours a day sitting inside the cab, operator comfort also is essential.

“You can tell somebody did a lot of thinking about what would be best for the operator,” he says of the CT681’s interior. “All the switches are easy to reach. The mirrors are heated. The windshield wiper system is great. The lumbar support on the seat is amazing.”

Hoyt also appreciates the CT681’s visibility—an important factor when plowing a mix of winding urban, suburban and rural roads—and the 10-speed, manual transmission, which he says operated smoothly right from the beginning.
In fact, Hoyt’s opinion of the Cat Truck can be summarized in one word: “Excellent. It has so many advantages.”

Want to learn more about the CT681’s capabilities? Read more of this story on Milton Cat’s Facebook page—and talk to your local Cat dealer to set up a test drive for yourself!

Repair It Right The First Time

When your Cat® Truck needs a repair, where do you take it? If it’s still under warranty, it only makes sense to return to your Cat dealer. But after that…well, we’d argue it always makes sense to return to your Cat dealer. Why? Read what Brandon Fritz, On-Highway Truck Business Manager at Cleveland Brothers, has to say. His dealership offers bumper-to-bumper service for all makes of on-highway trucks, and he believes Cat dealers set the standard.

What sets Cat dealers apart when it comes to truck service and repairs?
First, it’s our service technicians. They’re very skilled, highly trained and up-to-date on the latest trucks and components. We also have the most sophisticated shop tooling and a significant number of service bays. Plus, parts availability at Cat dealers is second to none.

Speed of service is another differentiator. At Cleveland Brothers, most of our shops run two shifts, so we’re open from 7am to 11:30pm five days a week. Two of our shops are open 24 hours, and we also have Saturday shifts at several locations. It’s all about getting our customers the uptime they need.

Our customers also can finance parts and repairs using their Cat Financial Commercial Account, which is an option few others offer. That makes it easier to manage cash flow.

Talk more about your technicians. What kind of training do they receive?
All of our service technicians take training through the Cat Dealer Performance Center. For the Cat Truck, that involves in excess of 100 hours of online courses. They also attend week-long classroom sessions covering the engine, emissions, electrical system, etc.

If you want trucks serviced right, you need technicians who are trained to understand all the different ways customers can spec them. That’s why we make sure our technicians at Cleveland Brothers also participate in training offered by Eaton, Hendrickson, Meritor, Bendix and other component suppliers.

Cat machine owners know the importance of repairing before failure. Is that an important strategy for on-highway trucks, too?
Absolutely—and the equipment management solutions available on today’s trucks make it easier than ever. We activate Product LinkTM on all Cat Trucks sold at Cleveland Brothers. When we see alerts or fault codes, we notify our shop service managers so they can help customers get a jump on the issue before it turns into a failure.

What else can customers do to make sure they’re repairing before failure?
About one in five trucks in our territory operates under a maintenance contract. That means the customer brings it to us for all the preventive maintenance work. If the truck is due for state or DOT inspections when it’s in our shop, we’ll perform those, too. Being involved at that level allows us to make recommendations that can help customers avoid downtime and compliance issues.

What’s the #1 reason you think customers should bring their trucks to Cat dealers like Cleveland Brothers?
There are three: You know it’ll be worked on by expert technicians. You know it’ll be repaired with genuine Cat parts. And you know the work will be done right the first time.

Big thanks to Brandon and Cleveland Brothers for their insights! To find out about specific truck service and repair options in your area, talk to your local Cat dealer.

4 Tips To Save Fuel In 2015 (Part 2 of 2)

Want to keep fuel costs down—and your bottom line growing—in 2015? Last month, our Cat Truck experts recommended two simple solutions: coast further in gear and slow down a bit. Read on for more common-sense suggestions in part two of our fuel-saving series.

Tip #3: Limit Idle Time
An engine at idle can burn half a gallon to a gallon of fuel per hour, depending on idle rpm and the number of accessories in use. (In other words, you’ll burn more fuel if the idle’s bumped up to 1000 rpm and the air conditioner, clearance lights and engine cooling fan are all running). That means the cost of leaving your truck idling while waiting in line to load or unload—or while sitting in a restaurant eating lunch—can really add up.

During the winter, when the ambient temperature is around 10 degrees with a wind chill below zero, it may make sense to leave your truck idling. But if the ambient temp is 30-40 degrees or higher, shut off your engine and save some money. A good rule of thumb: shut down the engine anytime you’ll be out of the truck more than five minutes.

Now, drivers often say they like the comfort of climbing into a warm cab when it’s cold out, or a cool cab when temperatures spike. But ask those same drivers how often they leave their own cars or trucks idling when they’re inside a restaurant eating dinner, and the answer is always no!

Another excuse you may hear is that diesel engines are hard to start, and that’s why it’s better to leave them running. That may have been true back in the days (1970s) of pre-combustion chamber engines, which featured glow plugs activated by a switch on the dash. In cold weather, drivers had to hold that switch—sometimes multiple times—to get the engine started and firing on all cylinders. Fortunately, those days are long gone. Today’s direct-injection, high-pressure fuel system engines are as easy to start as it gets.

Two additional opportunities to minimize idle time—and save fuel—are during warm-ups and cool-downs. At the start of the day, you only need to let the water temperature begin to rise off the bottom of the coolant temperature gauge. Even on cold winter days, that means you only need to let the engine idle long enough to do your pre-trip walkaround and fill out your log book. Once you start moving, take it easy for a few miles until the coolant temperature gets closer to normal. That way, you warm up the entire truck (axles, transmission, wheel bearings, etc.) instead of just the engine before you hit the road.

To shorten cool-down time, drive the truck as easy as you can just before you know you’re going to park it. Back out of the throttle early and let the truck coast as far as you can before stopping. The engine will be as cool as it can get as soon as you set the parking brakes.

Tip #4: Minimize Jackrabbit Starts
Are you guilty of jackrabbit starts? Breaking that habit could help you save fuel. Instead, use progressive shifting techniques when starting out and shifting up through the gears. (The idea of progressive shifting is to use only enough engine rpm to get up into the next gear and still pick up speed.) Go easy on the throttle instead of flooring it between every gear.

When starting off in the low side of the transmission, you can probably get by with upshifting at around 1200-1300 rpm, depending on the load and type of terrain. Heavier loads and uphill pulls may require more rpm to upshift. As your speed increases and you get into the high side of the transmission, you’ll need to use more rpm to upshift—the higher the road speed, the greater the rolling resistance. Try shifting at around 1400-1500 rpm.

If your truck has a Cat CX31 automatic transmission, use economy mode as often as you can. Go easy on the throttle as well, using only enough to pick up speed slowly. That’s right—you’ll be a few seconds slower getting up to speed. Will that delay really affect your production at the end of the day? That’s a decision you’ll have to make. One thing’s for sure, though—you’ll be pleasantly surprised by your end-of-year fuel savings.

Want more tips on saving fuel and money? Check out Caterpillar’s new Rethink the Tank website. It’s geared toward machine fuel savings—but there’s lot of relevant information for truck owners, too. Happy saving!

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