Cover story: Terra Cat at Wheels at Wanaka

Terra Cat put on a strong display of its latest advances in machine technology along with a range of Cat machinery at the 2023 Wheels at Wanaka event

A range of Cat machinery was on display

Terra Cat’s popular show stand at the 2023 Wheels at Wanaka event provided the opportunity for the brand to showcase its latest advances in machine technology with live demos, as well as educate visitors on what it takes to service and support the latest generation equipment. With big updates to Cat’s online parts store being rolled out, further customer interactivity and choice is a few mouse clicks away, regardless of location.

Terra Cat industry manager, Tim O’Meara, along with the Terra Cat team, celebrated a successful appearance for the popular brand at the 2023 Wheels at Wanaka event across Easter Weekend.

A bird’s eye-view of the Terra Cat stand at the 2023 Wheels at Wanaka event

Run every second year — alternating with the world-renowned Warbirds Over Wanaka International Air Show — the large-scale interactive family-orientated event brings together on terra firma a vast array of vehicles and machinery from different disciplines and different eras.

"The Wheels at Wanaka show is such a fantastic event to be a part of," says Tim. "It’s a very different experience to an industry event like Fieldays.

It’s family-focused and more like a celebration of machinery, so the conversations we have with people coming to the Terra Cat stand for a look are quite different."

Terra Cat showcased how their service technicians are utilising the latest technology to diagnose machine health

Tim says that both Cat’s heritage and present-day innovation were firm drawcards for Wheels at Wanaka attendees visiting the Terra Cat stand. From fans of the brand to loyal owners, the mix of history and the latest technology generated all sorts of conversations.

It wasn’t just machines on wheel and track that turned heads either, with Terra Cat also showcasing the latest in Cat generator technology, along with the ease with which generator rental can be arranged for customers anywhere in the country.

The brand itself remains a crowd favourite, with lines to buy instantly recognisable Cat merchandise, five and six people deep at some points across the weekend.

Cat merchandise was popular among visitors

"You really can trace the evolution of heavy construction machinery alongside the development of the Caterpillar brand.

So, on one hand, we have this incredible heritage that people love to see, including plenty of owners of original gear, but also, people like to see what the latest Cat equipment looks like too. A big part of that is about educating today’s and tomorrow’s customers about the advantages modern Cat equipment brings to the job site."

With Co2 reduction very much in the zeitgeist at present, how automation and advanced technology is being adopted by heavy construction machinery manufacturers is of keen interest to many.

Live demos were a major drawcard in the Terra Cat earthmoving pit

"I think it was the automation and assistant feature set that modern Cat earthmoving equipment already has onboard that was the biggest surprise for many visiting us at Wanaka," Tim continues.

"Increased automation has steadily become a firm part of the tech onboard our next-generation excavators, loaders, motor graders, and other machinery.

Features such as automated blade and bucket control, depth and slope guidance systems that increase accuracy and efficiency, lift assist sensors, and even onboard weighing have all become available in recent years.

And, as a result, our customers look to these advanced aspects of Cat equipment to give them the edge on the job site."

A Cat 982 wheel loader and Cat 325 campact radius excavator were part of live displays

In order to showcase increasing automation, Terra Cat’s busy Wheels at Wanaka site featured a live display comprising a Cat 982 wheel loader tipping to payload autonomously, showcasing the way Cat’s onboard tech takes the guesswork out of loading.

Cat earthmoving equipment putting on a strong display

Alongside the wheel loader, a next-generation Cat 325 compact radius excavator demonstrated advances in the accuracy available to operators through digging underground services by 3D design.

"We had such great feedback from visitors to the site – there was a real ‘wow’ factor there, with the public being able to see the technology in action up close," says Tim.

Naturally, with such advances in onboard technology, the question of ease-of-servicing and back-up support was a common one.

After all, compared to earthmoving equipment from decades gone by, the latest Cat machinery features cutting-edge data processing and computing power.

Diagnostic equipment features as highly in routine servicing these days as does a torque wrench. Once again, Tim says that a big part of the Terra Cat presence at the event was about educating the public, including those keen to learn about what Cat technicians do.

"The changing nature of servicing means that the entire service division is evolving to keep pace with machine technology. We’re appealing to a different type of apprentice audience now when it comes to recruiting technicians," he says.

"Our recruitment team was on-site at Wanaka answering questions from younger visitors looking at what a career in machine servicing might entail. It’s about tapping into the next generation of apprentices and educating them on the fact servicing is no longer just a matter of replacing parts and changing the oil.

"There’s a high degree of customer interaction required with these new machines because they are endlessly customisable. Our service teams work with machinery customers to ensure the equipment is doing exactly what the operator needs it to do in the best
way possible.

"As a result, our technicians need to be much more customer-facing than the traditional workshop serviceperson might have been a generation ago. It’s a very exciting time to be entering into the industry at that level."

A firmer focus on digital technology is also now extending beyond the workshop with the all-new parts and consumables ordering portal displayed at the event.

Increasingly, busy Terra Cat customers are looking to streamline the way in which they order genuine Cat parts, and for more remote customers, being able to get what’s required without interrupting machine productivity doesn’t have to involve a trip to the local dealer.

"The ordering site has been overhauled to make it more user-friendly," explains Tim. "All a customer needs to do is enter their Cat equipment serial number to find parts designed to fit their machine.

A search can also be made using machine model details, with popular searches listed alongside a full rundown of part categories, from attachments to belts and batteries, electronic components, filters, and more.

"There are more than 1.4 million individual line items available to order online, along with the ability to contact our service team for advice. It’s all about helping our customers trust the back-up support as much as they trust their Cat equipment in the field.

"To be able to offer that end-to-end service is absolutely crucial these days, and the conversations we enjoyed with visitors to the Terra Cat stand at Wheels at Wanaka this year certainly reinforced the idea that the brand remains a true benchmark in the industry."

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