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Looking back, and ahead

By |  October 22, 2012

Caterpillar Inc. has opened a new 50,000-sq.-ft. visitors center in Peoria, Ill., and the company gave the press a sneak peek. The center is a look back at the company’s long and storied history, and a look ahead at the ever-expanding, cutting-edge technology that makes Caterpillar a global giant.

The Caterpillar Visitors Center is a beautiful facility inside and out. Upon entering the lobby, visitors are greeted by a time capsule, which will be sealed by Doug Oberhelman, company chairman and CEO. The capsule is scheduled to be opened in 2050 – the 125th anniversary of Caterpillar.

The center is a blend of old and new, showcasing pieces of equipment from Caterpillar’s early days, as well as impressive new machines. My favorite feature of the facility is the Mining Truck Theatre, a video-presentation room housed in the bed of a reproduction 400-ton-capacity 797F mining truck.

The 797F is about the size of a two-and-a-half-story house, and the full-scale reproduction inside the center is a dead ringer for the real thing. Although it’s made from drywall, I found myself knocking on it, expecting to hear the sound of metal. Welding seams were reproduced using caulk, and the enormous tires – twice the height of an average person – are molded plastic. The 62-seat, surround-sound theater sits inside the bed of the truck, and each seat vibrates, giving moviegoers the sensation of riding in a Caterpillar vehicle.

The center has achieved LEED Gold status. Solar panels on an adjacent parking deck provide about 10,000 kilowatt-hours of electric energy per year (about 10 percent of the center’s projected annual energy usage). On sunny days, the solar panels can fulfill up to 75 percent of the center’s power needs.

Caterpillar invested more than $52 million into the Caterpillar Visitors Center and Peoria Riverfront Museum projects. More about the center and other Caterpillar developments will be part of a special report in the December Pit & Quarry. And more information about the Caterpillar Visitor Center can be found at www.caterpillar.com/visitors-center.

About the Author:

Darren Constantino is an editor of Pit & Quarry magazine. He can be reached at dconstantino@northcoastmedia.net.

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