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NCSA recognizes Caterpillar for partnership that spawned a series of technology breakthroughs

Karen Green, public information officer, National Center for Supercomputing Applications
(217) 265-0748;

Benjamin Cordani, media representative, Caterpillar Inc.
(309) 675-5786;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will present its 2002 Industrial Grand Challenge Award to Caterpillar Inc. during its Private Sector Program (PSP) award luncheon at noon today at the Holiday Inn, 1001 Killarney, Urbana. The event is open to the news media.

NCSA established the annual Grand Challenge Award in 1992 to recognize PSP companies for significant strategic and competitive breakthroughs resulting from their partnerships with NCSA.
Caterpillar joined the PSP in 1989 and has experienced a series of technology transfer successes and business innovations through its relationship with NCSA. The 2002 Grand Challenge Award recognizes the company for its use of virtual reality, immersive environments, and computer engineering simulations, and for its use of data-mining techniques to analyze warranty information and to pinpoint potential equipment problems. The award also recognizes Caterpillar's work with NCSA to develop a knowledge management system to encourage employee communication and collaborative problem solving.

"Caterpillar is a model partner in our Private Sector Program," said Dan Reed, the director of NCSA. "They have explored a variety of our technology development programs and have stimulated collaboration with several of our other partners. Because NCSA has always been on the cutting-edge of technology development, we have been able to team with Caterpillar to strengthen their competitive advantage in several disciplines."

"As I look back over the 12-year relationship, it’s been a very productive and valuable partnership," said Sherril West, Caterpillar vice president with responsibility for the Technical Services Division. "Together with NCSA, we've developed innovations that have helped us fuel profitable growth and deliver industry-leading products and services to our customers. We have been able to leverage all of NCSA's resources, take advantage of their far-reaching vision, learn from the other corporate partners, and ultimately incorporate what we have learned into our plans and strategies. We thank NCSA not only for this award, but for their contributions in helping make Caterpillar a technological leader."

Using hardware and software developed at NCSA, Caterpillar designed and built a virtual reality environment in Peoria. The center is used to create virtual prototypes and has helped the company reduce the number of physical equipment prototypes required to bring new products to market – saving time and money. When Caterpillar won the Governor's Pollution Continuous Improvement Award in 2002, its virtual reality center was cited as a major contributor to environmentally friendly improvements in the design of heavy equipment.

Another product of the NCSA-Caterpillar relationship is the Caterpillar Simulation Center, located in the university’s South Research Park in Champaign. The center has helped Caterpillar meet an increased demand for computer simulations that address engineering design issues such as materials processing, manufacturing processing and structural analysis. Because of its location, the center makes it easy for Caterpillar to recruit talented students and to build upon collaborations with NCSA and the university.

Caterpillar’s work with NCSA's data to knowledge (D2K) software resulted in the Reliability Information System (RIS), which mines information from equipment warrantees to pinpoint potential problems. The system has provided critical, in-depth information about engine performance and has helped engineers better prioritize and quantify design enhancements. The RIS also has improved engine reliability and reinforced customers' positive opinions about Caterpillar products. This system is now a major component in Caterpillar's global quality program.

NCSA also helped Caterpillar develop its Knowledge Network. This Web-based interface allows employees to interact and share knowledge with each other and with dealers and customers around the world. The knowledge-sharing tool effectively brings the experiences of many to a user's desktop, enhancing global teamwork.

Caterpillar's business modeling work with NCSA has changed the way the company's Technology Review Board sets strategies and priorities for product design. A new systems and processes division has already reduced inventory costs, shortened the order fulfillment process, and helped to improve customer opinions.

In addition Caterpillar has used the NCSA Private Sector Program to pursue one of its major corporate objectives--to enhance technology transfer opportunities. Through its PSP partnership, the company has been able to share technologies and collaborate with non-competitive businesses, including other PSP partners.