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Caterpillar offer stimulus package aimed at helping customers address a range of equipment-related issues

For those who are finding their once-thriving businesses are now challenged by the current economic and regulatory climate, Caterpillar, together with the company’s dealers, are ready to offer a ‘stimulus package’ designed to help Cat customers with equipment-related concerns. 

Whether these concerns are ‘do-it-yourself’ maintenance, affordable fleet expansion, financing, operator training or contract maintenance/repair options, the overall aim of the stimulus package is to help preserve the integrity of the machine-owner’s business.

Caterpillar have already added on-demand videos to their website, offering maintenance tips for customers who want to achieve do-it-yourself cost savings. There is also live information on the Parts and Services discussion forum, as well as new product support and financial services, put together by Caterpillar and Cat dealers, to help customers in relation to machine acquisition, operation and maintenance.

However, a stimulus package can only be good as the resources that support it. Cat customers can count on the extensive combined resources of Caterpillar and their dealers, from financial strength and technical expertise to competent professionals who are willing to address any aspect of an equipment user’s business.

Sound advice

Given that many plant and equipment owners are now carrying out routine maintenance of their machines to save money, Caterpillar are promoting good maintenance practices with on-demand videos that provide practical, detailed advice on various procedures, eg proper replacement of air filters, identifying hose-abrasion points, battery maintenance, preventing hydraulic-system contamination etc.

For the maintenance videos, Caterpillar chose Jeff Payne as the preventive maintenance instructor. Prior to joining Cat, Mr Payne worked as a service technician for 11 years and before taking on his current role, he was a senior technician at the Caterpillar Tech Centre and Proving Grounds.

Customers who watch Mr Payne’s explanation of filter installation, for example, will learn that every filter has its own specific lubrication and tightening procedure, which is detailed on the canister. It seems to be a small point, but inattention to those details could damage an engine.

For Cat Power Systems, Nick Rummer has been chosen as the instructor on the videos. He provides practical, detailed advice on issues such as inspecting for water-pump leakage and pulling clean oil samples.

Going live

The concept behind the new online forums is to encourage the exchange of technical information on Caterpillar products. The aim is to bring equipment users and Cat experts together on a ‘digital conference table’.

On the Parts and Service forum, customers can post questions to other machine owners, who may have the answer to a particularly troublesome problem. However, if the question is not promptly answered, the forum monitor can connect the customer to more than 100 experts at Caterpillar who may help and provide the required information. 

There are also regular live video presentations on the website, giving viewers the opportunity to ask questions and make comments. 

When buying new is not an option

Caterpillar understand that, in the current economic climate, there is a deferred purchase of new machines That said, the need for work-ready machines is a pressing concern for anyone who runs a business involving equipment.

To address this concern, Caterpillar dealers now offer Technical Analysis (TA) inspections that assess the health of a machine and identify any potential problems. The inspection gives an owner an objective look at their machine’s condition and allows them to plan ahead and balance the equipment’s capability against impending work. 

For example, if the machine needs to perform reliably, a Cat dealer will recommend a number of options, ranging from modest repair to complete rebuild of major components and systems, to ensure the Cat product can do the job.

Customers make the decisions that best suit their finances and work applications, with the assurance that their chosen options will be carried out by the dealer with craftsmanship and quality parts. 

Weathering the current financial climate, Cat dealers are well positioned to offer a wide range of Caterpillar certified-used equipment. These products, which are less than five years old with low hours, have passed a detailed inspection and come with a minimum six-month power-train warranty.

Another option for fleet expansion on a limited budget is rental equipment. Thanks to a global network of Cat rental stores, potential customers can find their nearest dealer and hire machines and other equipment such as concrete saws and aerial work platforms.

After-sales service

Customer support agreements (CSAs) are individualized agreements between customers and Cat dealers aimed at lowering operating costs for the buyer by shifting the responsibility of maintenance and repair to the dealers.

CSAs are tailored to fit the customer’s specific needs and include simple preventive maintenance kits and all-inclusive total cost performance guarantees. CSAs are flexible both in cost (eg monthly flat rates, fees based on accumulated hours) and in application (providing cover for a single machine or an entire fleet, whether Cat equipment or other brands).

Customer support agreements allow owners to accurately predict machine costs, thereby simplifying their budgeting and, in the long run, operating expenses are trimmed.

For example, a CSA that transfers routine maintenance and repair to the Cat dealer will yield savings that accrue from having qualified engineers working on a machine; professionals who have the adequate training, the right tools, the right parts and the latest information to competently diagnose problems and recommend repair options. 

CSAs also help customers to avoid expenses for maintaining repair facilities, recruiting and training technicians to cope with rapidly changing technology and for properly disposing of waste fluids and filters.

Even for plant and equipment owners who capably handle routine maintenance, CSAs can prove to be a valuable, cost-saving resource if structured to assure regular, periodic inspection and evaluation of a machine’s condition (eg undercarriage wear). According to Caterpillar, CSA promotes a lifetime of reliable productivity from machines that make their final payoff in high resale value.

Caterpillar Equipment Training Solutions

Nearly all machine owners consider employee safety and cost reduction through improved operating efficiency among their chief objectives – in bad times or good. The Caterpillar Equipment Training Solutions programme offers a practical means of helping achieve these goals by equipping operators to perform their jobs competently and confidently.

Today, operating skills can be tailored to the individual’s preference whether it is classroom-based, on-site training, E-learning or simulation. Increasingly, simulators are becoming a notable teaching method. Sitting at high-tech simulators, trainees pose no risk to themselves, instructors, on-site workers, machines or property, nor are they taking production machines out of service. Caterpillar’s training programme offers simulator training for hydraulic excavators, motor graders, off-highway trucks, wheel loaders and wheel tractor scrapers.

E-learning allows operator training to be carried out in a virtual classroom and Caterpillar currently have CDs available in the E-learning curriculum to assist new operators, technicians and equipment owners in understanding the fundamentals of plant operation, safety and maintenance.

Complementing E-learning is the traditional classroom-based training. These training sessions, which are led by experienced Cat operators, provide a mix of classroom work and ‘stick time’ for newly qualified operators, drivers with intermediate skills and for experience operators who want to fine-tune their skills. 

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