Caterpillar Inc. employees marked a major milestone recently, commemorating the production of 75,000 wheel tractor-scrapers at the Decatur, Illinois facility. The historic machine, an open-bowl, twin-engine 627K, is built to move high volumes of material quickly and economically with optimum fuel efficiency.
“Scraper sales have been rebounding steadily in North America since the last downturn,” said Caterpillar Mining Products Vice President Tom Bluth. “And with our new K Series machines, we’re in a great position to win business outside North America as construction investment recovers.”
“Congratulations to all who helped design, build, deliver and support 75,000 scrapers,” he continued. “Employees, dealers, suppliers—past and present—we appreciate the role you played. We also extend our thanks to tens of thousands of Caterpillar customers who have put their trust in Cat® scrapers for generations.”
Scrapers were one of three product families, along with track-type tractors and motor graders, upon which Caterpillar built its business following World War II. As the U.S. economy boomed and populations began migrating from cities to suburbs, housing and infrastructure construction exploded, spurring demand for high-volume earthmoving tools like the wheel tractor-scraper.
Growth was strong all over the world as new global infrastructure began to take shape. Caterpillar responded by expanding the product line and investing in manufacturing capacity, including the operation in Decatur.
“Just about any major infrastructure project undertaken in the past 70 years, anywhere in the world, you can bet Cat scrapers played a role,” said Sankar Kurumbail, Wheel Tractor Scraper Product Manager at the Caterpillar Decatur plant. “When it comes to high-speed, high-volume earthmoving, it can be hard to find a more economical option. They’re some of the most durable products in our line, too; it’s not unusual to see a scraper from the 1970s still working hard today.”
While older models continue to deliver reliable performance, the Cat scraper line has been updated over the years to help customers meet the changing requirements of earthmoving projects. Today’s K Series models feature automated cycle functions, high-pressure steering, engine-overspeed protection, fuel economy mode, payload monitoring and other innovations that simplify operation, reduce maintenance and boost fuel efficiency.
“The K Series scrapers are part of a rich legacy the Decatur team is carrying forward every day,” Kurumbail said. “That 75,000th machine was built with the same goal as the first one: making our Caterpillar customers more successful.”