Caterpillar Achieves Off-Highway Truck Milestone As Decatur, Illinois, Plant Produces Number 50,000

For Worldwide Release: March 2009
Release Number: 95PR09

Caterpillar recently produced its 50,000th rigid-frame off-highway truck-a milestone achieved at the Decatur, Illinois, plant where such trucks have been produced since 1963. Number 50,000 is a 777F, a versatile 100-short-ton-capacity (91-metric-ton-capacity) truck that sees application in heavy construction, quarry and aggregates, and mining.

"Today, our large mining trucks are moving more than half of the material-rock and ore, coal and oil sands-at mines around the world," said Chris Curfman, president, Caterpillar Global Mining Division. "While Caterpillar wasn't the first company to enter the off-highway truck market, our product quality, durability and unparalleled support have enabled us to become the market leader. Along the way, Cat trucks have helped build the modern mining industry. Reaching the 50,000-truck milestone exemplifies our commitment to providing what mining customers want and need."

Caterpillar started its nearly 50-year history of off-highway truck manufacturing with the 769, which had a target payload of 35 short tons (31.8 metric tons) and was powered by a 400-horsepower (298-kilowatt) Cat® engine. That single model offering has expanded to 10 models currently, and the Cat power and truck capacity has expanded beyond that tenfold increase. The biggest of the bunch is the 797F, which will be commercially available later this year. The 797F has 400 short tons capacity (363 metric tons capacity), and the C175 engine produces 4,000 horsepower (2983 kilowatts).

The 777F that marks number 50,000 is representative of the new generation of Cat trucks being manufactured in Decatur-with designs to enhance operator comfort and safety and to reduce cost per ton through superior performance, reliability and durability. The new models also feature Cat engines with ACERT® Technology, an advanced system that combines technologies to produce responsive power while reducing exhaust emissions.

Introduced in 1974, the 777 model represents more than 20 percent of the 50,000 milestone. The 777 shipments follow the trend of the more recent truck models. Caterpillar began producing off-highway trucks in the early 1960s, but it wasn't until the 1980s that Cat truck sales started outpacing the competition and quickly growing. Cat produced nearly 36,500 trucks between 1980 and 2007-three times as many as the nearest competitor.

To help continue that trend, Caterpillar has invested in a massive research and development program that will bring improvements to every current mining truck and will guide the introduction of two AC drive trucks. The 793F AC and 795F AC will complement the line of mechanical drive trucks.

Decatur plant
All 10 models of Caterpillar® off-highway trucks are produced at the Decatur, Ill., facility-one of Caterpillar's largest plants. The facility covers nearly 350 acres and includes 25 buildings.

Caterpillar has been manufacturing products in Decatur since the1940s, when the company supported U.S. efforts in World War II by producing engines to power tanks, then manufacturing engines and power trains for Caterpillar D7 track-type tractors. A new 908,000-square-foot plant built in 1954 was used to produce motor graders and wheel tractors. Major additions completed in 1958 and 1965 increased its size to more than 2 million square feet.

In the mid-1980s, a complete modernization led to the unique Assembly Highway, which is still used today to produce trucks. Decatur also produces motor graders and wheel-tractor scrapers.

777F to mine coal
The 777F that marks the milestone achievement is destined to Prodeco coal operations in Colombia. The Prodeco group is Colombia's fastest growing coal exporter, producing high quality steam coal at the rate of more than 12 million tonnes per year. Expansion plans call for production to reach 22 million tonnes per year. The 777F will be the 112th 777 delivered to Prodeco. In total, 61 new 777F trucks and 22 new Cat 789C trucks will go to Prodeco to expand the haulage fleet.

The Caterpillar dealer in Colombia, Gecolsa, as all Caterpillar dealers, has developed full product support capabilities. Through maintenance and repair contracts, Gecolsa will see to it that the entire fleet of more than 170 machines continues to deliver lowest cost per ton.

Looking forward
"Cat entered the market in 1963 with a truck that performed better, ran faster, hauled more, lived longer, operated more safely and had unmatched global support throughout the Caterpillar dealer organization. The basic fundamentals that made that possible in 1963 remain the foundation of Cat trucks today," said Stu Levenick, Caterpillar group president. "We will continue to build on our strong foundation and will leverage the technologies of today and tomorrow to provide the superior value that our customers have come to expect from the market leader in large mining trucks."

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