Product Stewardship

In this section:

Product stewardship covers the full lifespan of our equipment – from the supply chain to the customer’s job site to remanufacturing. This means taking steps to reduce potential environmental, health and safety impacts, as well as optimizing operational quality and efficiency throughout the life of the product.

We accomplish this by:

  • Engineering products to reduce or eliminate hazardous substances if possible
  • Utilizing more sustainable energy sources as they are available
  • Extending a product’s life through the use of remanufactured parts or rebuilt machines
  • Working with customers and distributors to encourage the proper disposal or recycling of end-of-life materials

Innovation Management

Our Enterprise Technology Strategy establishes the foundation for innovation in Caterpillar’s product development. It focuses on key technology areas that impact many facets of sustainability by:

  • Providing foundational components for a wide range of digital solutions
  • Reducing customers’ owning and operating costs
  • Promoting safety and sustainability
  • Increasing product reliability
  • Providing customers with the tools they need to succeed anywhere they work
  • Allowing Caterpillar to maintain a competitive advantage

The strategy is driven by customers’ needs, deep market research, regulatory requirements and global economic indicators to inform decision-making. Each of the technologies under development includes customer-focused goals that serve as targets against which progress is measured.

By the end of 2018, there were more than 125 active New Technology Introduction (NTI) and Component New Product Introduction (CNPI) projects being worked within the Enterprise Technology Strategy.

Our Enterprise Simulation Strategy lays the foundation for Caterpillar’s use of physics-based simulation in the product development process. This strategy is closely aligned with our Enterprise Technology Strategy and facilitates sustainability throughout the entire product development process. Caterpillar uses simulation in all stages of product development – from the conceptual phases of research and design through production.

Simulation allows Caterpillar engineers to explore the impact of new product and process designs without having to first build prototypes in iron, which uses significant resources. Using simulation in product development enables the exploration of multiple design concepts, drives research and development (R&D) efficiency, saves R&D dollars and decreases re-work, all of which allows for fast-paced innovation that benefits our customers and the company.

Our Technology and Simulation Strategies are governed through multitiered councils composed of leaders from all areas of the business, from our Executive Office to engineering and technical leaders. These councils create and execute the vision for future technologies and processes at Caterpillar, as well as ensuring consistent and sufficient funding for Caterpillar’s technology investments.

Research and Development Expenses U.S. dollars in millions

Standards Harmonization and Technical Expertise

Our global standards and regulations team works closely with organizations like the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to harmonize machine safety standards worldwide. Caterpillar makes management and technical expertise available to regulatory bodies in advisory roles, offers technical assistance as new product standards are developed and provides input to help ensure the smooth introduction of new technologies. For example, industry consensus standards, including those for visibility, rollover protective structures, braking and sustainability, apply to earthmoving equipment. Because of our brand reputation, organizations often look to Caterpillar to lead the development of these standards. We are involved on an international level to develop and update global standards through the ISO and chair the technical committee for earthmoving machines.

Beyond ISO, we participate and hold leadership roles in industry associations as well as governmental and nongovernmental delegations to international bodies such as the International Maritime Organization, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, European Union industry expertise panels and federal advisory committees chartered under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Customer Safety

Caterpillar’s safety culture extends beyond our internal operations to include promoting the safe operation of our products in the field, as well as the safety and health of all individuals who come into contact with Cat® products.
This commitment encompasses:

  • Product design and engineering
  • Operator training and certification
  • Solutions for the job site
  • Tools and resources to improve workplace culture

The Zero-Incident Performance (ZIP™) process provides a formula for continuous improvement by enabling organizations to achieve the engagement and accountability needed for safety improvements.

  • Engage Leadership
  • Assess the Culture
  • Build the Plan
  • Develop the Processes
  • Implement the Processes
  • Check the Processes

Circular Economy

Wherever possible, we keep resources in the Caterpillar value chain through a circular flow of materials, energy and water. Caterpillar strives to provide customers with quality equipment that delivers the best economic proposition for their business. Our remanufacturing (reman) and rebuild businesses provide customers with immediate cost savings, help extend life cycles and use materials more efficiently. Reman and rebuild programs increase the lifespan of equipment by providing customers with a restored product for less cost than buying new.

A complete Cat® Certified Rebuild includes more than 350 tests and inspections, automatic replacement of approximately 7,000 parts and a like-new machine warranty. In addition, trained dealer service professionals perform this work using genuine equipment and parts. Caterpillar provides information, data, training and service tools to help dealers make the most appropriate decisions on which parts to reuse in order to achieve expected longevity of rebuilt components. Reuse of components helps us use materials and energy more efficiently.

Remanufacturing is built on the concept of reusing raw materials to extend their value and reduce waste. The reman process starts when a component reaches the end of its serviceable life. Dealers return the used iron (core) to Caterpillar where it is cleaned, inspected, salvaged and remanufactured to original factory specifications. Cat Reman uses state-of-the-art salvage techniques, strict reuse guidelines, and advanced remanufacturing processes and quality controls to ensure reman products provide same-as-when-new performance, with a same-as-new warranty, at a lower cost to the customer than buying new. By repurposing the high-quality materials used to manufacture the original Cat component, and recycling the rest, we extend the value of the energy and finite natural resources used to manufacture the original component.

Remanufacturing and rebuild programs allow customers to maximize the built-in value of their equipment by:

  • Driving improved cost-effective performance
  • Increasing the customer’s return on their investment
  • Providing the customer with a variety of repair options to meet their service needs
  • Providing the lowest total owning and operating life cycle costs
  • Preserving the majority of energy and materials required to make the original component or machine

Increasing Global Access to Remanufactured Products

While global customers have driven demand for remanufactured products, not all customers can benefit from the significant cost and efficiency savings that Cat Reman products deliver, due to import and export challenges. Certain countries – mostly in developing regions – do not recognize the value of remanufactured goods for the environment and their national economies, and thus place trade barriers around remanufactured products.

There are typically two types of trade barriers:

  • A tariff barrier might include excessive fees or taxes levied by a certain country that significantly increase the customer’s cost of choosing a viable remanufactured product.
  • A nontariff barrier might include customs officials categorizing remanufactured goods as “used” goods, which cannot be imported under any circumstance or can only be imported after complying with special inspection, certification, licensing or other onerous requirements.

Similar barriers are often faced when customers seek to export their cores and return them to Caterpillar in exchange for a remanufactured engine or component. With the same durability, performance, quality and warranty as that of the corresponding new Cat® engines and components, Cat Reman products should not be treated as “used” goods by our trading partners or by other countries. Indeed, this has been acknowledged in a number of free trade agreements and other multinational statements, such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Pathfinder Initiative and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). To ensure market access, we advocate that countries participating in the global economy treat remanufactured products the same way they treat new goods.

Caterpillar continues to work with policymakers around the globe to open markets and expand remanufactured options for our global customers, providing them with cost-effective, sustainable solutions for extending the life of their existing equipment. The company informs and engages with government regulators around the world on the sustainable benefits of Cat Reman products.

Reman & Rebuild Goal

Increase remanufactured and rebuild business sales by 20 percent from 2013 to 2020.

17% Rebuild business sales growth since 20138

7% Reman business sales growth since 20138

Reman End-of-Life
“Take-Back” by Weight8,9 Millions of pounds of end-of-life material received

Reman End-of-Life
“Take-Back” by Percent8,9 Actual end-of-life
returns/eligible returns x 100

Customer Sustainability

Caterpillar helps customers build a better world, and customers increasingly want to build that world by using less fuel and generating fewer GHG emissions. These customer needs provide valuable business opportunities for Caterpillar.

We continue to invest in research and development aimed at products that generate fewer direct emissions. In addition, we’re increasing our investment in high-efficiency energy conversion and electrification – working to increase power density, expand the use of alternative fuels, maximize efficiency of power systems, and introduce more electrification into our product lines while significantly decreasing owning and operating costs over time. In doing so, we help our customers improve their own operations, while also driving our competitors to improve.

Product, Services & Solutions Goal

Leverage technology and innovation to improve sustainability of our products, services and solutions for our customers.

Job site fuel efficiency, which contributes to reductions of GHG emissions, is strongly considered in our new product development efforts. By developing products, services and solutions that increase customer efficiency, we are reducing the emissions that would otherwise have been generated from the use of less efficient products or solutions. We also collaborate with dealers and customers to deliver customized solutions that help optimize energy use and provide training for customer operators on how to use our equipment more efficiently.

19% reported sales and revenues in 2018 derived from products, services and solutions that demonstrate an improved sustainability benefit over prior offerings.10

A significant part of our business is committed to the supply of energy through efficient power-generation solutions. With distributed power generation solutions utilizing diesel and natural gas engines, as well as alternative fuels, we help get power where our customers need it.

Caterpillar has implemented distributed power generation systems all over the world, which contribute to improving energy access in the developing world while emitting fewer GHG emissions compared to traditional power grid systems. We provide combined heat and power systems and combined-cycle power systems that can double the efficiency of power generation when compared to the efficiency of conventional power grids. Additionally, our power systems utilize fuels from diverse sources, such as gas from landfills, livestock operations, wastewater treatment operations, mine methane, flare gas, syngas and biofuels. These systems provide energy diversity from plentiful (and in many cases, renewable) energy sources.

Natural Infrastructure

Conventional (or grey) infrastructure – sanitary sewers, treatment plants, roads, bridges, dams and levees – is not the only infrastructure in need of rebuilding. Ecosystems that are essential to the health of our economy, communities and planet – forests, prairies, agricultural lands, estuaries, coastal landscapes and wetlands – are in critical need of restoration. Unfortunately, a significant portion of the earth’s natural infrastructure has been lost or degraded. These ecosystems purify our water and air, sequester carbon, mitigate storm impacts, produce nourishment and supply other raw materials. Our products and solutions are well-equipped to be used for such critical restoration projects.

To increase awareness and understanding of natural infrastructure development and restoration, Caterpillar is leading a group of like-minded organizations through the Natural Infrastructure Initiative. The Initiative is focused on water-based natural infrastructure projects such as coastal resilience, flood and storm mitigation, inland waterways and dam removals. Its role is to add value by accelerating the frequency and pace of natural infrastructure projects in these areas and supporting increased funding for these types of projects. It also is focused on identifying and advocating for the removal or reduction of regulatory and commercial barriers to implementing projects.

Job Site Efficiency

Caterpillar customers want to realize the full value of their assets on the job site. Our solutions business model is designed to meet that goal by going “beyond the iron” to increase asset utilization and optimize the return on customers’ site investments. Designed and delivered by our Job Site Solutions (JSS) team in partnership with Cat® dealers, these solutions help customers find innovative ways to improve their operations and be more competitive in the marketplace. JSS leverages Caterpillar’s financial, technological, application and management expertise to tailor solutions based on the customer’s own needs, typically in the areas of safety, sustainability, equipment, productivity and finance. As a result, every solution is different, scalable and can range from a short-term consulting engagement to a multiyear fleet management solution.

We consistently find that cost savings unlocked by our JSS team also deliver additional sustainability benefits. A more efficient operation should drive reductions in emissions, noise, energy use and waste. For instance, optimizing fleet efficiency not only reduces costs, but also it can improve the maintenance and component replacement cycles of individual machines. Better maintenance execution can extend the life of a machine, which in turn reduces fluid and maintenance parts consumption. JSS helps customers select components and equipment that meet production goals, often giving options to rebuild or remanufacture, thereby reducing waste and conserving natural resources. The integration of these services is showcasing the three dimensions of sustainability – economic growth, environmental stewardship and social responsibility – for our customers.

Systems Optimization Goal

Increase managed fleet hours by 100 percent from 2013 to 2020.

Fleet Hours

249% Increase in fleet hours managed by Job Site Solutions (2013 to 2018)

Service Agreements

321% Increase in number of machines covered by service agreements with Job Site Solutions (2013 to 2018)