As part of its Asia Pacific Quarry Days last month, Caterpillar hosted a trade press roundtable with some of its key representatives in Tokyo, Japan. Among those participating from Cat for the June 3 event were Felice Stocco, product application manager, global construction and infrastructure; Phillip Pollock, general manager, marketing, global construction and infrastructure for Asia Pacific; and John Fallows, general manager, construction and infrastructure for Greater China and Korea. The two addressed the company’s response to experienced operator shortages in the United States and around the world, as well as the prospect of the company’s hybrid technology in its 336E H excavator.
P&Q: Caterpillar has described there being shortages in experienced operators in a number of countries, including the United States. Can you explain the breadth and depth of this shortage and how, if at all, Cat is addressing it through the research and development of new technology?
Stocco: Back home in Australia, people head into mining. But by the time you train that inexperienced miner, you’re losing productivity because you need time to train that person. That’s their biggest challenge. In Asia I’ve found that operators are not experienced as in other areas. I’ve seen them operate in the U.S., as well.
Customers ask how we can help make their operators better. The answer is in your own backyard. You get your own best operator and get them to teach others. When you bring other people in to train, there’s been nervousness there; they’re not one of their own. Whereas if you get one of your own, there’s more of an ease there.
We still support these customers through our dealer network. Cat has licensed guys on particular machines go out, assess and test the customer. One of the biggest things I’ll ask is if you have an operator who is 75 percent efficient. Most customers say yes. Then that operator has 25 percent improvement in them. How do you get 25 percent improvement? It’s through training via their best person or through our training effort.
Pollock: We’re seeing an increasing use of simulators. The old approach was to stick a person in your oldest machine and let him have at it. Now we can put them in simulators in a controlled environment. You’re not