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YEAR IN REVIEW: WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND

Throughout 2017, Caterpillar has connected with hundreds of equipment owners—on jobsites, at industry events and through newsletters, webinars, surveys and social media. Our conversations have run the gamut from big-picture issues—the economy, infrastructure spending, gridlock in Washington—to everyday challenges like improving productivity, cutting costs, finding good people, keeping them safe. As we looked back at the discussions we’ve had, a few key topics emerged.

Grade control is gaining traction. We’re seeing more interest in on-board technologies that guide and control blade and bucket movement. Users tell us these systems are easy to learn and can deliver productivity gains of 45 percent or more. And with so many options available—2D, 3D, factory-integrated and dealer-installed—it looks like there’s a product to accommodate most applications and budgets.

Yet technology can still be a tough sell. Even though grade control is more mainstream, there’s still some reluctance to go all-in with connectivity technologies. The biggest hurdles, you’ve told us, are access to information about costs and benefits, lack of skilled staff in your business and poor internet or cell coverage where you work. These are tough challenges we’ll all need to work on together.

Rental is for problem-solvers. Equipment rental is playing an increasingly important role in many businesses. The contractors we talk with use it regularly to solve short-term problems. Whether the issue involves capacity, cash flow, capital restrictions or all of the above, rental can help. It’s also a simple way to control maintenance costs or try out new technology.

Attachments boost flexibility. Versatility continues to be a priority. The ability to do more types of work with a single machine is viewed as good for the top line as well as the bottom. When we discuss versatility with contractors, excavators get high praise, particularly when paired with quick couplers and work tools. Favorite attachments: buckets, thumbs, hammers and grapples.

People and safety—nothing matters more. As we bring new products to market in an industry where skilled labor is in short supply, it’s more important than ever that new features help less experienced people work safely and productively. Contractors have encouraged us to focus on a few key areas: maximizing visibility with large windows, unobstructed views and rearview cameras; improving cab ergonomics with comfortable seats, simple controls and easy-to-read displays; using automation to improve operator efficiency and accuracy; and incorporating ground-level service points to reduce the risk of falls.

Do these issues resonate with you?

Check in with your Cat® dealer or connect with Caterpillar on your favorite social media app. We look forward to hearing about your priorities in the year ahead.