A year after former Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman Dwight Evans, Senior Application Engineer, Xylem Dewateringproclaimed “The Age of Smart Iron” at the Bauma trade show in Munich, Caterpillar customer and dealer services group president Rob Charter said at ConExpo that the technology continues to get smarter.

 “Our iron is getting smarter all the time,” Charter said. “Today we are driving the digital revolution with data analytics, 3-D printing, augmented reality and much more. We hold over 20,000 patents worldwide and invest nearly $2 billion a year in research and development. Through Cat Connect Services, we are connecting assets of all types and brands, and increasing productivity, safety and sustainability. Caterpillar has not only the world’s largest field population; we have the world’s largest connected industrial fleet, more than 470,000 units.”

Charter said connectivity is more than just Caterpillar machines. Cat Connect Services have connected a fleet with more than 16,000 assets, Charter said, everything from heavy equipment to light plants, and most were not Caterpillar machines. “This customer has improved equipment utilization by nearly 20 percent over the past several years, which means lower capital expenditures, and lower owning and operating costs.”

Charter said the value of connected assets means the company is improving its ability to predict failures before they happen. “It’s what we call ‘fix before failure,’” Charter said. “We see great potential in this space going forward. Cat Connect solutions can be combined, customized and scaled to support any size business, project or jobsite, no matter the complexity.”

Cat Connect Services include equipment management, safety services, productivity services and sustainability, Charter said. “Equipment management is about managing fleets, both Cat and our competitors’,” he added. “Reducing the costs associated with the health and maintenance of jobsite assets. Our safety services helps locate employees onsite, ensures safe interactions between machines and personnel, and can even identify fatigued or distracted workers. An example of this is our Cat Smartband. It can tell when a worker is sleepy or fatigued. It’s a great example of leveraging technology to make the jobsite safer. Digital Insight from the customers’ jobsite and technologies, such as grade control, help sustainability by reducing waste, idle time and fuel burn.”

Caterpillar also launched Productivity Services at ConExpo, expanding technology-enabled services to help customers streamline operations, control costs and reduce risks.

Charter added that with increased R&D and access to data come the realization that Caterpillar needs to partner with others that know even more. “We know we need to work with those who have some expertise that we don’t,” he noted. “We are collaborating with and investing in companies with a broad range of data and technologies to help us develop new capabilities, gain deeper customer insights, and provide better analytics and consulting services.”