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New Generation of Toyoda Machines Increases Caterpillar’s Lafayette Production


CAT immediately ordered 3 larger machines to run connecting rods for diesel engines. The upgrade is slated to more than double production.

Caterpillar’s Lafayette facility has been making the 3500 engine for 36 years—and that’s just one of the large diesel and natural gas engines on their production line. Manufacturing rugged engine core components requires robust, Toyoda-tough equipment—and although they were still getting the job done, Caterpillar Lafayette’s 20 to 25-year-old Toyoda machining centers had reached their age limit and needed to be upgraded. CAT is known for getting the life out of their equipment—and Toyoda’s robust machine designs fit the bill.

Toyoda maintains a competitive advantage by delivering higher power density, lower total cost of ownership and superior product support

CAT first considered replacing the decades old Toyoda machines with a competitor —but after a thorough analysis it was determined the total cost of ownership was much lower with Toyoda equipment. The goal was simple: upgrade the existing equipment while maintaining low operation costs and minimizing production downtime. “Toyoda’s availability and installation lead time were major factors in our decision,” said Alpen Patel, Technical Service Manager. “Toyoda understands that production can’t wait for long shipping and installation periods—that’s why we have our machines in stock and ready to work,” said Rob Albright, Toyoda Regional Manager. 

...after a thorough analysis it was determined the total cost of ownership was much lower with Toyoda equipment.

CAT upgraded to Toyoda’s state-of-the-art horizontal machining centers for efficient production and high-precision machining. The latest upgrades, two FH630SX-i machines and three FH800SX-i machines, join a fleet of ten other Toyoda machining centers at the Lafayette facility. These horizontal machining centers provide industry-leading speed, rigidity and accuracy to reach peak efficiency. The FH630SX-I features an 8,000 RPM spindle with the option of a 15,000 RPM high-torque spindle and a rapid feed rate of 2,362 ipm (60 m/min). The FH800SX-I offers an expansive work envelope for large part machining with identical spindle options. Both machines have dual ballscrew drives on the Y and Z axes for improved rigidity.

In terms of installation, there is always some risk involved when you take old, proven technology out and replace it with a new investment, but CAT’s adjustment was seamless with Toyoda’s after-sales support.

In terms of installation, there is always some risk involved when you take old, proven technology out and replace it with a new investment, but CAT’s adjustment was seamless with Toyoda’s after-sales support. “The machines have performed better than expected. The installation went smoothly even through the holidays and the support Toyoda provides is exceptional” said Patel. Not only did they meet their goal of a smooth transition, but they increased accuracy and efficiency with the newer technology.

Right out of the gate without changes in process, the new Toyoda machines delivered a 25% increase in production and reduced cycle times by 37%. With the new production rates, CAT was able to dramatically increase their value, covering the cost of the machine upgrade. Reduced cycle times eliminated the need for employees to work overtime to meet production requirements, which was also good news for their bottom line. CAT’s success led them to put another three large machining centers on order to run connecting rods for diesel engines. With these, production is slated to more than double.

Like CAT, Toyoda maintains a competitive advantage by delivering higher power density, lower total cost of ownership and superior product support. CAT’s significant returns have standardized Toyoda as the equipment of choice for the Lafayette facility. “As machines reach capacity or age limit, we will look to Toyoda for the solution,” said Patel.


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37% Increased Capacity

Post-installation, CAT was immediately running 37% faster cycle times. Being able to do more in less time eliminated employee overtime needed to reach production requirements.

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25% Increase Production

Running the new machines with the same program, producing the same parts CAT was able to increase production by 25% - covering their increase in value and paying for the machine upgrade.

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