How Caterpillar Elevated Its Supply Chain with Technology

Caterpillar (CAT) recently successfully elevated its supply chain visibility to network collaboration. Using Infor Nexus’ real-time supply chain management visibility solution, it has combined SCM with the internet of things (IoT) and geo-fencing for true clarity. With this technology, CAT and its customers know exactly where machines are, if they are on time and when they will arrive where.

In a recent presentation, Tom France – Director of Transportation at Caterpillar, detailed this journey. France outlined that CAT started with basic visibility and how they are moving through the maturity model to what he refers to as “Network Collaboration” with their customers. “Our supply chains are long extended with mission critical time sensitive elements to them,” explains France.

What Does CAT Transport Entail?

  • CAT moves items ranging from 170 grams and 5 centimeters to 102 tons and 17 meters
  • Over 6 000 ground lanes
  • Over 2 700 ocean lanes
  • Over 1 100 air lanes
  • CAT has about 1.2 Billion items of inventory in transit at any point in time

The Challenge

France outlines that, prior to the implementation of this technology, CAT’s data flow did not match its physical flow. The consequence of this was that “things did not move”; i.e. transportation was halted or stalled. This problem was particularly evident with regards to international transit – without the correct dataflow the inventory would not be allowed to progress on its journey. This inventory was then stored in a container and without the proper tracking data. It often was not included and/or recognised in the company’s understanding of where losses in time (and thus revenue) were occurring.

How Technology Helped

With Infor, CAT was able develop an innovative solution with an appealing front-end, which empowered CAT to view its outbound network overview at a glance. This offered CAT insight into real-time data (which was already available to it) through which it could monitor, manage and greatly enhance its supply chain. Among other things, this technology allowed CAT to see how many machines were in transit, if any machines were late (and if so why), and if any inventory was delayed at any point in the journey (as well as the reason for the delay). This information helped it to track and respond to these issues in a timeous and effective manner.

France outlines the benefits of this front-end as follows:

  • Clean and clear formatting
  • Drives engagement with customers (dealers)
  • Easy to use and understand
  • Real-time data updates

The video of Tom France’s presentation is available to view here: