Caterpillar celebrates Generations

By Mike Anderson

LAS VEGAS – Surrounded by the green of Caterpillar’s Generations Park, John Disharoon noted the 30-percent increase in efficiency and 30-percent reduction in emissions of what his company has long termed a “track-type tractor.”

“Most of you are thinking I’m talking about the D7E right next to me – and those are all true statistics on that machine – but in fact the first time we did that was in 1925 on that Model Twenty you just saw,” Disharoon said Monday, moments after Caterpillar vice president and chief technology officer Tana Utley dedicated the park built at Caterpillar’s Gold Lot booth at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2011. “That machine replaced the big steam-driven wheeled tracked out in California and offered competitive, sustainable benefits to the customers back in 1925.

“So, this really is about a legacy. That’s why we call this Generations Park here,” said Disharoon. “We didn’t call it sustainability in 1925, but it was all about improving the efficiency, getting the farmer into the field earlier in the spring and allowing him to harvest later in to the fall in the wet underfoot conditions with a track-type tractor as opposed to the agricultural tractor prevalent and state-of-the-art of that time.”

Utley had cut the ribbon right in front of the restored Twenty, which greets visitors to Caterpillar’s CONEXPO-CON/AGG “green space” – green both in terms of the tree-lined park-life conditions providing an escape from the asphalt lot in which it’s been built and in terms of the Caterpillar machines on display including the new CT660 vocational truck, D7E dozer and 320E hydraulic excavator.

All product development at Caterpillar is based, said Utley, on three values – customer value, leverage from previous generations and sustainability. “It’s not easy to do all of those three things at the same time,” she said. “If an engineer comes up with an invention that improves sustainability, but doesn’t improve customer value, that’s not innovation. Innovation is all three of those things simultaneously.”

Caterpillar has 8,000 engineers, who spend $7 million every working day building upon a portfolio of 3,500 patents. “That’s quite a legacy that they have,” said Utley, herself a second-generation Caterpillar engineer.

“We are dedicating this park to Caterpillar customers,” she said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony, “because it is for them that we have the opportunity to innovate, to help sustain their business and also help us sustain the environment.”

During CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2011, which officially opens Tuesday, Utley will deliver an “Innovating For The Next Generation” presentation daily at 2 p.m. at Generations Park. Disharoon will present “Sustainability . . . Your Competitive Advantage” each morning at 10.