Tag Archives: Caterpillar

Good Luck, Rocket Robotics!

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I had a chance to meet Rocket Robotics, FIRST Team 3596, last week, and I left feeling so impressed with our next generation of engineers and the work they’re doing — as well as with the community and business partnership it takes to make their work possible.

The robotics team, in its sixth year at South Milwaukee High School, is 15-20 students strong and is led by Brian Niggemann, a Caterpillar engineer who volunteers countless hours of his time to mentor the team and prepare them for their annual competition. He is joined by three other Caterpillar employee volunteers who bring their engineering expertise and guidance to the kids you see pictured above.

Caterpillar is also a significant funder of the program, paying the team’s entry fee and also donating funds and equipment used in building the robots. In addition to Caterpillar, The Rotary Club of Mitchell Field stepped up with significant funding this year, as well as smaller contributions from Vito Clean, Alliance Manufacturing Group, and Styled Aesthetic.

But it really comes down to the kids and the passion they bring to this, which was clearly evident when I visited with them.

I wish them good luck at the FIRST Robotics Regional Competition, scheduled for this Friday and Saturday, March 25-26, at the Milwaukee Panther Arena downtown. Learn more about the competition here. It’s open to the public and free. Stop by and see these students in action, and I’m certain you’ll come away as impressed as I was.

Their robot is wrapped in plastic below. They didn’t want to risk me breaking it🙂

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Caterpillar Donates $40,000 To SMHS For New CNC Milling Machine

Cat milling machine

I just heard about this great example of local industry stepping up to support local kids.

From the South Milwaukee School District …

Through a generous $40,000 donation from Caterpillar, the Technology & Engineering department at South Milwaukee High School was able to purchase a new CNC milling machine.  The milling machine accepts computerized 3D modeled designs and machines them out of wood, plastic, or aluminum.  

The donation will also fund the future purchase of a 3D printer, design laptops, field trips, engineering kits, and professional development opportunities for teachers.  The equipment will be used to create a new rapid prototype lab for students to manufacture their design projects.

A big thank you goes out to Caterpillar and their support for our technology & engineering program.  Caterpillar sponsors and their engineers lead South Milwaukee High School’s FIRST Robotics Team.  Also, each year engineering students are invited to take a field trip to visit the plant and engineers then visit the school as guest speakers and engineering project judges.

Pictured is the Roland MDX-540 Bench Top CNC Milling Machine.

This is really cool. Thanks, Caterpillar. And good luck to our next generation of engineers and skilled workers.

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Caterpillar To Close Oak Creek Facility, Shift Jobs To South Milwaukee

Caterpillar announced to its employees on Monday that it will close sell its Oak Creek corporate building and move between 200 and 250 jobs back to South Milwaukee in the first half of 2016.

These are salaried professional workers in finance, human resources, legal, marketing, etc. — many folks who had been working in South Milwaukee prior to the opening of the Oak Creek mining headquarters in the former Midwest Airlines building about five years ago.

The move is not a surprise, given Cat’s announcement last month of up to 10,000 global job cuts and other consolidations coming in light of a continuing slumping mining industry. (Competitor Joy Global also announced job cuts last week.)

While it’s hard to call this great news — certainly when taking a broader perspective with economic development — it does strengthen Cat’s presence in downtown South Milwaukee and should help area businesses.

Cat also continues with its plans to invest in its manufacturing presence here.

A company spokesman tells me that the South Milwaukee plant — now in the company’s Surface Mining and Technology group — will be focusing on rope shovels and draglines going forward, and Caterpillar continues to plan investments in the facility in the next three years to meet eventual demand. Cat had previously announced the closure of 250,000 square feet of manufacturing space, while investing in the space that remains.

I’ll keep you posted.

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More Bad News For Caterpillar: Up To 10,000 Job Cuts Coming

Caterpillar plans to cut up to 10,000 jobs worldwide over the next three years, the company reported today, as it also announced reorganization of its mining division.

Check out coverage from the Wall Street Journal, ReutersUSA Today and CNBC. Here is the press release.

From the Wall Street Journal piece …

The Peoria, Ill.-based company said the job cuts would occur through a reduction in its salaried and management staff and, longer term, through contemplated plant consolidations and closures. Caterpillar is aiming to reduce annual costs by roughly $1.5 billion a year. …

The planned job cuts include reductions of between 4,000 and 5,000 salaried and management staff through 2016 but mostly this year. The potential plant consolidations and closings could affect more than 20 of its operations and slightly more than 10% of its factory floor space.

Caterpillar said that since 2013, it has closed or announced plans to close or consolidate more than 20 facilities, impacting 8 million square feet of manufacturing space. In addition, the company already has reduced its total workforce by more than 31,000 since mid-2012. …

Caterpillar also said it would revamp its mining business, as well as the company’s dealer and customer-facing divisions as part of the efforts to lower costs.

Details of the mining reorganization are contained in a company press release. From it …

As previously announced, Chris Curfman, vice president with responsibility for Caterpillar’s Mining Sales & Support Division is retiring, effective December 31, 2015. His division will be integrated into the existing Global Mining machine business divisions. Bringing product, operations, sales and marketing organizations together in both the surface and underground mining applications aligns well with our customers and will also enable a more effective cost structure in a challenging mining environment. The surface mining sales and support teams will join the Hauling & Extraction Division, which will be renamed the Surface Mining & Technology Division, led by Caterpillar Vice President Tom Bluth. The underground mining sales and support teams will join the Material Handling and Underground Division, led by Caterpillar Vice President Denise Johnson.   

So, what does it all mean for South Milwaukee? It remains to be seen.

I’ll keep you posted, especially if I hear more about potential impacts to our city.

 

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Going Big With Little Free Libraries

Little Free Library

Update: A point clarification, only those who requested libraries initially will get one for free. We are accepting no more requests for the complimentary libraries. 

So, you might remember in June that we put a call out to local residents interested in giving Caterpillar’s former Little Free Library a good home. We had a great response. Eleven people said they wanted one of these in front of their homes!

So we began wondering, “How can we say ‘yes’ to everyone who asked?’”

Well, we’re proud to announce that everyone who initially asked for one, will get one. That is due to a generous donation of time and expertise from local woodworker Larry Oleson.

I just met Larry a few weeks ago, and if you’ve driven down 15th Avenue near City Hall over the years, you may know some of his work. His carved wood (and some metal) pieces adorn the front of his house 2413 15th Ave., and he has even more terrific works in his garage, from tables and chairs to wooden animals.

He’s also no stranger to Little Free Libraries. He’s constructed more than a dozen over the years.

So when I asked him about taking this on, Larry was more than happy to help.

So was Ace Hardware, which is donating paint and stain for the project, and the South Milwaukee Library, which is donating some of the wood (from old library shelves) that Larry will use and provide some books for the libraries, as needed.

The plan: Larry now has the list of people who expressed interest in the libraries and will begin construction soon. The goal is to have everyone their free library by the time the snow flies, starting with the one from Cat.

I am really excited about this community partnership, and I want to thank Caterpillar, Ace, the library and especially Larry for his contributions.

This is why I love South Milwaukee!

Be sure to check out Larry’s work for yourself at his home. Give him a call first at 414-764-6786. Tell him I said hi, and please thank him personally for stepping up to help with this project.

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Filed under Caterpillar, Library, Local Business, South Milwaukee

This Little Free Library Needs A Good Home

Little Free Library

Caterpillar wants to donate the Little Free Library you see here to a loving resident and neighborhood that needs it.

Are you interested, or know a South Milwaukeean who might be? Contact me via email at brooks@smwi.org.

And thanks to Cat for stepping up to donate this library. It used to be at their 11th and Milwaukee entrance, but they realized it would be better served in a neighborhood.

Could that neighborhood be yours?

Learn more about the Little Free Library movement here. I love the concept, and the fact that you already see so many of them around town.

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Much Smaller, But More Efficient: Big Changes Coming To Cat In South Milwaukee

Cat is significantly reducing its manufacturing footprint in South Milwaukee — but investing significantly in what remains.

In that regard, this afternoon’s announcement about the retooling and redesign of the South Milwaukee plant — including the consolidation of nearly 260,000 square feet of it, or about half of its current manufacturing space — is not all bad news.

And it certainly could have been much worse.

From the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago …

In South Milwaukee, where the company makes electric rope shovels, hydraulic mining shovels and draglines, Caterpillar plans to redesign and retool the facility, removing the need for more than 260,000 square feet of production space in its manufacturing footprint.

“We continue to evaluate our operations for efficiency, to lower cost and to improve competitiveness. This decision allows us to more competitively position the products produced on these campuses, and it provides employees in these facilities clarity around our long-term plans for maintaining production,” said Ed Rapp, Caterpillar group president with responsibility for resource industries.

I am told the buildings Cat will vacate (by not renewing leases) are primarily located in the inner portion of the campus, with those along Rawson Avenue getting the increased (likely multi-million dollar) investment. The technical center and offices are not affected.

The announcement Monday will not affect current employment, which is obviously much less than it used to be. South Milwaukee has more than 700 employees.

I spoke with a local Caterpillar official this afternoon about the decision, and he positioned it as a significant investment in the facility to make it more competitive.

“The ultimate goal in this is to make South Milwaukee a world-class provider,” he said. “As you get more globally competitive, that is good for the employees, our customers, and the city.”

I agree. While it would be great to see the local plant humming along at full capacity in its current footprint, that seemed more and more unlikely with each passing day. Instead, we are getting a smaller, more efficient plant better positioned for the long term, in a changing mining industry that might be headed for an upswing.

Indeed, there are plenty worse alternatives.

Check out coverage from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,

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