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Archive for the ‘Machinery’ tag

What actual Caterpillar users think of its equipment

I posted a few questions about Caterpillar from an investor’s perspective at Heavy Equipment Forums and got some insightful replies. What really, truly sets Cat apart from the crowd? It’s not the paint color or the triangle-shaped tracks.

SERVICE SERVICE SERVICE. Cat’s got the dealer network and parts stores to keep their equipment serviced and running when down time costs money that matters most. Their field service and support fleet is unrivaled.

CAT has become the gold standard. When reading parts or service specs its not unheard of to see the term “CAT or equivalent.”

What’s the first thing Cat should do to improve its stock price?

That’s one of my pet peeves about corporate America in general: too much pressure from the shareholders wanting instant gratification with ZERO foresight into the future. Right now I think Cat should be focusing on INNOVATIONS and improvements to the existing product catalog. There’s not a whole lot they can do besides try to stem losses in the current economic climate.

Read more here.

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Tom Mangan posted at 7:27 am February 11th, 2009 |

6,000 gallons of oil sludge spills into river from Caterpillar plant in Joliet, Illinois

The local paper in Joliet has the most complete report (besting the grownups at the Chicago Tribune, no less) on Sunday’s spill, which happened when an open-air storage tank for used oil overflowed because of a pump malfunction. The oil sludge spill contaminated three miles of the Des Plaines river.

How much damage the spill could potentially create is unknown.

The first step in such a spill is to contain it, said John Lesnak, environmental protection specialist in surface water section at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

Trying to contain the sludge is just what the Coast Guard was doing, with help from the Channahon and Rockdale Fire Departments, Joliet police Lt. Jeff Allbert said. They are surrounding the contaminated water with a floating wall, Mitchell said.

That wall, also called a boom, is a floating absorbent ring that floats on the water.

“If (the contaminant is) floating, they just corral it with these booms, these floating rings, and then they go in with a sweeper and they just slurp it up,” Lesnak said. “The idea is they contain it with the booms so it doesn’t spread and then they clean it up.”

That was the plan, according to Mitchell, who said after the booms collect the spill, two vacuum trucks on the scene would suck up the sludge.

While officials said there was not harm to humans nor any evidence of fish or waterfowl harm, Mitchell did point out that if there was an animals within the three-mile radius, it could be in trouble.

For those who’ve never worked in a factory or machine shop: oil lubricates cutting surfaces and various manufacturing processes. Basically you pour oil over something to keep drill bits and other cutting things from overheating (also, reducing friction keeps cutting tools sharper longer). The oil then flows down into a catch-basin of some sort and gets recycled.

Presumably this left-over oil is what was stored in the tank that overflowed.

I read somewhere that 6,000 gallons is about how much a tanker truck carries.

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Tom Mangan posted at 7:13 am February 9th, 2009 |

Mini Excavators in Love

This slather-on-the-cheese video appears to be an ad appearing in the Australian reality TV show “Jack of All Trades,” of which Caterpillar is one of the sponsors.

More on the show, if you’re curious

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Tom Mangan posted at 9:01 am February 5th, 2009 |

Motley Fool discovers downturn in heavy machinery stocks

The same site whose “Caps” program called Caterpillar a screaming buy at $46 in December now has a Fool surveying the carnage of January in heavy machinery stocks and concluding: 2010 is looking good.

Yes, Fools, the cat is now fully out of the bag. Global industry simply fell off a cliff sometime last fall, and the more plant closures and layoffs we see, the more this once-bagged cat resembles a rabid, ferocious lion

Actually the post does mention most of the regulars — Terex, CNH and company — and notes that Deere’s earnings later this month are the numbers to watch.

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Tom Mangan posted at 8:43 am February 5th, 2009 |

Factory orders tanked in December

Not a huge surprise: Factory orders dipped 3.9 percent in December, according to the Commerce Department. Associated Press reports:

Analysts are forecasting that manufacturers will continue to face hard times in the coming year because of a deepening U.S. recession and weakness this has spread worldwide, cutting sharply into demand for U.S. exports.

For December, demand for durable goods, products expected to last at least three years, fell by 3 percent, even worse than the 2.6 percent drop that the goverment initially reported last week.

Demand for non-durable goods, products such as food, paper and petroleum, fell by 4.8 percent in December following an 8.7 percent fall in November. Some of this decline reflects the big drop in energy prices that has occurred in recent months.

Be glad you’re not Boeing: Demand for commercial aircraft fell by 43.8 percentt.

Full report at the Census Bureau.

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Tom Mangan posted at 8:08 am February 5th, 2009 |

Woodward Governor bracing for impact of Caterpillar layoffs

Woodward Governor (ticker: wgov) gets a sizable chunk of its engine-controls business from Caterpillar. This story in the Coloradoan (the company’s based in Fort Collins) outlines what the company’s up against:

“We saw the downturn coming,” Gendron said. “The severe reductions at Caterpillar … we didn’t predict that. It gets our attention, and we have to see what that means. Caterpillar is a very large customer.”

The story also notes something we saw in a previous post about a small Cat supplier in Michigan: people are getting more business building wind-power systems.

Can’t help wondering how long before we hear about Cat getting in on the wind-power act. (Note, it does have a wind-powered plant in Northern Ireland.)

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Tom Mangan posted at 6:48 am February 3rd, 2009 |

Priceless video from

If you want to know why Wallstrip is the toast of the financial blogosphere, check out this hilarious video profile of Caterpillar from the summer of 2007 (or watch it again if you saw it first time around). The brass at Cat decided WallStrip wasn’t “a good fit” for the Mighty Yellow’s image and refused to set up an on-site visit where the hostess could try her hands at the controls of a shiny new loader. The results are priceless:

Fate had the last laugh: Cat’s down over 50 percent since refusing play along with Wallstrip. Coincidence? You decide.

(I guess I know what’ll happen now when I request a tour of the dealership down the road.)

Addendum: I’m sure Cat Public Affairs is far too sober and serious to have anticipated this outcome, but it strikes me that their refusal to play along guaranteed this video would be twice as funny. Law of unintended consequences is such a nice thing.

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Tom Mangan posted at 10:24 pm January 18th, 2009 |