Before Cat® machines get to work on customer sites, many are assembled in our manufacturing facilities. Caterpillar is committed to doing this work in a way that minimizes our environmental footprint, including conserving energy and water, reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and reducing the amount of waste we send to landfills.
We have established global performance standards for environment, health and safety at our facilities that extend beyond compliance with laws and regulations. Our 2020 sustainability goals include targets for energy, water and waste in our operations. These goals provide focus for our efforts to reduce our footprint while maintaining or improving performance and customer satisfaction.
We encourage all employees to actively participate in improving our operational performance. Caterpillar also collaborates with our suppliers to assess sustainability performance and identify opportunities for improvement.
Sun-Powered Solutions in Mexico
Three Caterpillar buildings in Mexico are now offsetting 100 percent of their power usage with energy backed by solar power sources and clean energy certificates, thanks to a new five-year agreement with Ammper, a local renewable energy company. An additional two buildings run on a combination of solar power from Ammper and electricity produced by Caterpillar Mexico Energy Center natural gas-powered generators. Caterpillar Mexico plans to expand renewable and alternative energy use to more facilities.
The Perkins facility in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India, produces engines for customers primarily in India and elsewhere in the Asia/Pacific region. At the facility, 4000 Series engines undergo end-to-end machining, assembly and testing, following rigorous manufacturing processes.
While the facility has only been in operation for a few years, plant managers saw an opportunity to improve processes to conserve energy. They invited employees to identify ways to reduce energy and resource consumption in their daily operations. Then they selected the best ideas for implementation.
Projects ranged from use of more efficient light fixtures to reusable pallets that cut down on packaging waste. In many cases, small changes led to significant energy and emissions reductions. One employee observed that the facility’s 90-kilowatt air compressor was more powerful than the facility needed and required substantial energy to operate. Replacing it with a 25-kilowatt compressor saved more than 249 MWh per year while meeting the facility’s needs.
Another project involved diesel fuel consumed during engine testing. Team members identified process improvements to increase efficiency of testing, thereby reducing the fuel used. The team also found a way to recover and repurpose diesel fuel previously earmarked for the testing process. Improvements to the test process lowered emissions by about 130 metric tons CO2-equivalents.
The facility team was proud to implement solar water heaters for use in the employee canteen area. Previously, six individual hot water heaters were used to provide heated water for food preparation and dish washing. Now, rooftop units use solar power to heat the water, saving about 57 MWh per year.
The remanufacturing process is built on the concept of reusing raw materials and 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 using state-of-the-art salvage techniques, strict reuse guidelines, advanced remanufacturing processes and unequalled quality control. Cat Reman customers receive remanufactured products with same-as-when-new performance and durability at a lower cost than buying new. Cat Reman also obtains limited amounts of nonconforming material (NCM) – parts that are defective or do not meet requirements, and would otherwise be scrapped – from our facilities that are producing new products. Cat Reman salvage technology and processes can transform this NCM from a conventional loss into an enterprise and customer win.
It is often taken for granted that facilities simply transfer the right scrap material to Reman, but until recently, this process has been manual and inconsistent. A Caterpillar team in Fargo, North Dakota, discovered an opportunity to strengthen collaboration and standardize transfer of NCM. The team organized a Kaizen event, a Lean manufacturing approach that brings multidisciplinary teams together to brainstorm solutions. Based on this work, they developed standard processes and a database of NCM products that can be used by Cat Reman.
THE RESULT: In 2018, the new standard procedures saved approximately $1.7 million in production costs across five facilities and established increased collaboration between Cat Reman and new product teams. The procedures also led to decreased energy consumption and raw material use. Rather than melting down NCM as scrap, 240 tons of material was salvaged for Cat Reman products.
Sometimes one solution can be the answer to multiple problems. It was true at one of our engine facilities in Seguin, Texas, where the system for unloading and packing finished engines onto shipping pallets presented a host of opportunities to improve employee safety and ergonomics. The engines had to be moved using a manually operated bridge crane. But the crane’s controls were not ergonomically adjustable for operators who were unable to comfortably reach the controls, such that they had to stoop to install brackets. These conditions also regularly put operators behind cycle time. To top it off, human and forklift traffic occupied the same area.
A team of engineers at the facility worked on a solution, using 3D modeling, simulations and interviews of fellow team members to understand the scope of the need. They determined a multipurpose robot, nicknamed BRUTUS (Broader Robotic Utilization Through Unmatched Strength) would be an effective solution, working alongside operators to make engine loading smoother. BRUTUS functions as both a robot, unloading engines and moving them to a skidding table, and as a jib arm, giving operators the leverage they need to move engines into position. The team gained leadership approval for their proposal, and operators are already seeing positive results.
The Seguin facility utilized safety tools to measure the elements of the process. The safety risk of two elements was eliminated completely, and the third element saw a signifcant safety risk reduction. In addition, teams are meeting cycle times due to less congestion in the process. And, because teams are working more efficiently, the facility is saving approximately $45,000 per month due to improved efficiency.