Trip to Caterpillar, Larne

Caterpillar Larne is an engineering company that designs, produces and fixes power generators that can be used for emergency power in many places such as hospitals, shopping centres and airports.  Caterpillar produces many sizes of generators ranging from 14.4 kW to 2000kW. The largest Generator consumes 520 litres of diesel an hour!  They produce several brands including Caterpillar, FG Wilson and Olympian but they claim that Caterpillar generators are the most effective.  Caterpillar is an international business who have supplied to huge companies such as Face book, The United Nations and even Microsoft; as you can see Caterpillar are an extremely successful business.  On the 5 &6 of November we, Ellie Cameron and Grace Warwick, visited caterpillar for an insight into engineering and we both had a fantastic experience.

Ellie Cameron’s experience at Caterpillar:

For my two days at Caterpillar I was placed with Ian Brown, the team leader of innovative designs. On the first day I was given a tour of the factory floor where I saw how they designed, tested, made and transported their generators all around the world. I even got to test one of their biggest machines myself to make sure it worked properly and safely before it was dispatched to South Africa to power relief workers medical equipment. On my second day I was based on the office floor where I got an insight to everyday life of the engineers who design the products. I spoke to mechanical and electrical engineers who showed me some of concepts they had been developing recently. I then spoke to the project manager who explained to me the steps they go through to create the best product and the structure they follow to manufacture their products to fit the specific needs of every costumer. I then finished my day trying out some of the computer programmes they use to design their new products and had a goal set to recreate one of their original base plates for the generator to stand on.

Grace Warwick’s experience at Caterpillar:

During my two days at Caterpillar I was placed in the Continuous Product Improvement (CPI) section with a team of very helpful and friendly electronical and mechanical engineers. On the first day here I was given a factory tour of Larne Packaging Company where I saw the various production lines of the different generators and I performed a quality audit on the generator enclosures to ensure that all improvements were being followed by the assembly team, this was interesting as I saw how every detail was important when making a generator. Ellie and I were also shown the Product Validation Services including the Hemi Anechoic Chamber (an echo –free room designed to completely absorb reflections of either sound or electromagnetic waves) which was very impressive as even if you shouted there would be no echo! On the second day I was given the opportunity to attend supplier quality meetings with Leroy Somer, manufacturers of AC alternators, as they discussed ways to improve the generators and to resolve any quality issues. Finally I was also shown how to reply to emails that were submitted into the CPI inbox which was amazing to see how much Caterpillar care for their customers and for their product.

Visiting Caterpillar was an incredible experience for us and a really beneficial insight into the work of an engineer.