By Jack Roberts
With the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) now law, and federal dollars flowing into the pipeline for projects nationwide, many contractors face an odd problem: Thanks to lingering supply chain issues, getting new equipment or vehicles to launch projects continues to be a struggle.
One option is to keep relying on well-supported older equipment to get work done. There is another option for those who are running Caterpillar on-highway engines in their vocational work trucks.
Caterpillar announced it is now offering new parts and service solutions to support customers still running yellow engines in their work trucks.
Caterpillar stopped producing on-highway truck engines in 2008 as new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations and a focus on vertical integration by truck OEMs fundamentally changed the North American industry.
And yet there are still over 1 million Caterpillar on-highway diesel engines on the road today – with many working hard in vocational fleets hauling materials or machinery to and from road and bridge construction jobsites nationwide.
“We have a fully dedicated team of aftermarket sales representatives in place to support Cat on-highway engines,” said Bart Bradford, on-highway truck product support manager for Caterpillar. “And in 2020 a team of dedicated account managers was created to support Cat Truck Engine Parts and Services (TEPS) dealers as well as independent repair facilities.”
The average age of a Cat truck engine now is around 21 years old, according to Zach Barrett, parts marketing consultant, on-highway engines for Caterpillar.
“That means many of them are reaching their end of life from overhauls and rebuilds,” Barrett said. “To give our customers many more years of reliable service from their engines, Cat is offering complete, remanufactured long block and other engine solutions.”
Barrett said the benefits from these support offerings include:
New overhaul, upgrade or repower options
Fully assembled, saving labor time
Complete engines backed by a two-year unlimited miles limited warranty
100% new cylinder blocks, crankshafts and cylinder heads for Cat Reman engines with new content.
Bradford said the OE is now aggressively stepping up its remanufacturing processes – an attractive option for fleets that need reliable truck power to go to work now and can’t afford to wait until current supply chain issues are resolved.
“We’re starting to see customers who have been running older competitive engines looking to repower their trucks with these Cat Reman engines with new content,” Bradford said. “Caterpillar can take that competitive engine core and give you full core credit for it toward the cost of the like-new quality remanufactured engine.”
This is news because Caterpillar has never done anything like this before, and since the IIJA will launch countless road and bridge projects in the next few years, this program could help keep construction on schedule across the country.
And Caterpillar is planning more on-highway truck engine programs in 2023.
Jack Roberts covers the equipment side of our industry for Roads & Bridges.