News | January 31, 2003

Caterpillar Selects Plexus FloWare for Literature e-Assembly Line

"This was one of those deals where you had to be perfect to win."
--Tom Cermak, Plexus Regional Sales Manager

Headquartered in Peoria, Ill., Caterpillar Inc. is the world's largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines and industrial gas turbines. A Fortune 100 company, ranked #1 in its industry with more than $26 billion in assets, Caterpillar is a growth-oriented, high-tech global powerhouse which is focused on the future.

Case in point, Caterpillar's investment in Research and Engineering is the highest in its industry, with state-of-the-art technology incorporated in every machine and engine it produces. Caterpillar has some of the most innovative people in the industry with their employees receiving almost 2,300 patents during the past five years. These exceptional individuals are helping Caterpillar respond to a rapidly changing business climate. Bolstering the company's leadership in the industries it serves through a number of well-defined initiatives, Caterpillar is aggressively reducing costs and improving quality by leveraging cutting-edge technology such as Plexus' workflow software.

A key component of Caterpillar's success is their industry leading, global dealer organization. This is far more than just a distribution system. These dealers give Caterpillar a local presence and provide on-site product support for customers around the globe. This network delivers superior customer service, and from more than 1,800 locations, Caterpillar dealers can supply parts and service to Cat machines and engines anywhere in the world - most of the time in less than a day.

Caterpillar is devoted to supporting their dealers and customers in making sure that the right service procedure is available when and where needed. This is no small task given that the company has introduced 296 new or improved products over the last 5 years. To assist in the cost effective and timely updating, translation and dissemination of service literature and other information to it's dealers and customers, Caterpillar is harnessing the power of the Web by developing a global Internet/Extranet network, and on increasing the capabilities and efficiency of its existing document publishing system.

In 1994, the Logistics Division of Caterpillar established the first publishing workflow system, based on technology from Concentus Technology Corp. Last year, an initiative was undertaken to update this system which was no longer capable of fulfilling the company's existing and future business and technology needs. To this end, an extensive workflow industry study was carried out, resulting in the evaluation of 8 workflow products: Concentus, FileNet, Fujistsu, IBM, Lotus, Oracle, Plexus and Staffware.

After all evaluation criteria were applied, only two vendors progressed to the final stage of consideration: Plexus and Staffware. Using the products from both finalists, dual proof-of-concept designs were implemented. These prototypes were judged on their ability to fulfill the business objectives of maintaining the functionality of the existing workflow processes, more adequately supporting the strategic direction of the company, reducing future development efforts and system complexity, and increasing user productivity and system performance.

The end result? Caterpillar selected FloWare as it best met these goals and provided the best platform for keeping up with the company's evolving business processes and IT strategy.

Service literature is the documentation used by Caterpillar dealers and customers to assemble, maintain and operate the company's equipment. This operation is so prolific that Caterpillar ranks as the 2nd largest private publisher in Illinois! To make Caterpillar's service documents available on paper, DVD and the web, the company has 3 workflow processes in production that serve over 500 users. Caterpillar views this workflow as the "e-assembly line" for the creation, maintenance and translation of its literature.