Established in 1999, the Caterpillar production facility in Sanford, N.C., recently reached a significant milestone when the 250,000th machine manufactured at the facility rolled off the assembly line. That machine, a Cat 299D2 XHP compact track loader, with custom paint and commemorative emblems was created to celebrate the occasion and will be prominently displayed at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017. It was also on display at the Green Industry & Equipment Expo (GIE) last month.
The very first machine off the production line at the Sanford facility in 1999 was a rubber tire skid steer loader, which brought industry-leading features to the market, including intuitive, operator-friendly, hydraulic joystick controllers that replaced the more common mechanical controls used by competitive machines, says Gareth Jones, engineering manager.
Now, 17 years and 250,000 machines later, production capacity at the Sanford facility has increased significantly — and the machines produced there have also changed significantly.
“Over time, customers have come to expect more from their machines with regards to performance and comfort,” says product specialist, Kevin Coleman. “When our first machines were produced, air conditioning wasn’t an option that was available on a skid steer loader. Now, customers not only expect air conditioning, but they want a sealed-and-pressurized operator’s environment, along with features that they routinely expect in their personal vehicles, such as Bluetooth radios, heated seats and rearview cameras.”
Brad Crace, Sanford-facility operations manager, sums up the sentiment of the occasion: “We can’t thank our customers enough for the trust they’ve placed in us to continue producing these great machines. Our customers are changing the world. Whether working in construction, road repair, demolition, landscaping, or agriculture — in any number of varied applications — our customers are making a difference, and we’re grateful they’re using Cat skid steers, multi-terrain and compact track loaders to do so.