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continued from page 26             (metric), the more costly and dif-
         range of fasteners, 10 new metric sizes   ficult it will be,” explained Cater-
         replaced 32 old inch sizes. Fewer fasten-  pillar’s chief standards engineer
         ers mean fewer bins for fasteners, fewer   at the time.
         drill sizes for fasteners, and so forth.  To make all new designs with
           The  company also  worked  with  the   dimensions in millimeters, co-
         American  National Metric  Council   ordination  among  departments
         (ANMC) through its coordinating com-  within Caterpillar was important.
         mittees, consisting  of various  compa-  However, Caterpillar decided not
         nies and organizations in an industrial   to force its suppliers to go metric.
         sector. Thus, the conversion schedules   The company developed a com-
         of different sectors could be considered,   puter program to convert dimen-
         helping with the conversion process.  sions for suppliers requiring inch
           In the end, metrication at I-R was con-  measurements,  giving  suppliers
         sidered to be a long-term opportunity to   time to adjust. Although some
         simplify operations by substantially re-  were initially surprised at Cater-
         ducing the number and variety of parts.   pillar’s conversion, suppliers have
         Economies result from variety reduction.   since converted to metric.  Performing break-strength testing  on stainless wire
         Even with short-term inconveniences   Training was needed, espe-  rope in the Loos & Company quality testing lab.
         and added costs, there were long-term   cially for design engineers, and
         benefits that more than justified the cost   generally consisted of a two-hour ses-  costs.  However,  Caterpillar continues
         and effort, and there were no lasting   sion. The net cost of this training was   to use some ISO inch fasteners for its
         problems experienced on the shop floor.   effectively zero, because overseas engi-  U.S. Operations.
         Consequently, I-R correctly anticipated   neers were no longer going through the   One  aspect  of  Caterpillar’s  metrica-
         lower manufacturing costs and increased   costly conversion of inch designs.  tion was its aim at influencing interna-
         international  business  due  to  its  new   Caterpillar remains a strong ad-  tional standards. This was accomplished
         policy of using hard metric in all new or   vocate of metric education.  The  com-  by working with the American National
         replaced products and parts.       pany’s employment application forms   Standards Institute (ANSI) and the In-
           In 1986 the Caterpillar Tractor Com-  query  applicants on  their  knowledge   ternational Organization for Standard-
         pany changed its name to Caterpil-  of the metric system, and Caterpillar’s   ization (ISO) to provide American input
         lar,  Inc.  to  more  accurately  reflect  its   major presence in Peoria, Illinois, led   to the standards-making process.
         growing  diversity. Caterpillar Tractor   the  city’s school  district  to teach the   The  benefits  of  metric  conversion  at
         Company began  to metricate its  U.S.   metric system almost exclusively.  Caterpillar included elimination of re-
         plants way back in 1971, shortly after   Actual costs for going metric were   design in overseas plants; reduction in
         publication of the U.S. Metric Study—  much lower than the initial cost esti-  the number of sizes, resulting in fewer
         A Metric  America:  A Decision  Whose   mates because Caterpillar did not have   and  larger  steel  orders,  as  well  as  re-
         Time Has Come—that  had been com-  to replace tools, gauges, and measuring   duced steel inventory; improved design
         missioned by Congress.             equipment. In addition, plant disrup-  selection resulting from a more logical
           As an international operation, Cater-  tions were almost non-existent. Dual   sequence of sizes; and cost reductions of
         pillar became certain going metric was   dimensioning  allowed  the  use  of  exist-  between $900,000 and $1,000,000 per
         in its best interest. With plants in many   ing designs and equipment. Step by step,   year.  There’s  nothing  like  beefing  up
         countries, it was already involved in the   soft conversion of old designs progressed   your bottom line with something that
         expensive task of converting inch draw-  to hard conversion as new products were   also benefits your firm in the longterm.
         ings from the U.S. to metric for non-U.S.   introduced. Over time, the attrition of   Caterpillar realized  that the  cost  of
         Operations.  “The  longer  we  wait  to  go   non-metric designs created a predomi-  conversion was minimal and would not
                                                    nantly metric operation.   have been lower had they put it off un-
                                                      Caterpillar  found  that  til later. The company feels that its cus-
                                                    adopting metric  sizes  for   tomers and users have likewise reaped
                                                    steel,  particularly sheet and   benefits from its gains in going metric.
                                                    plate steel,  reduced inven-  In  the  end,  Caterpillar achieved  the
                                                    tory and costs. A 54% saving   goals of making its products more sal-
                                                    was achieved by replacing 74   able worldwide, improving standard-
                                                    non-metric sheet and plate   ization and design, and reducing its
                                                    steel sizes by 34 metric sizes.   production costs.
                                                    Over  500  flat  bar  sizes  were   The metric system is symmetrical and
                                                    replaced by fewer  than  200   beautiful  and  synchronous.  At  what
                                                    metric sizes.  Most of these   temperature does water freeze? Zero.
                                                    changes  took  place over  a   At what temperature does it boil? 100.
                                                    three-year  period, with  sur-  Simple. And the overwhelming majority
                                                    prisingly few exceptions.  of human beings on earth use the metric
                                                      Caterpillar chose metric   system on a daily basis for all of their
                                                    drill sizes already used in Eu-  needs and have found it to be superior
                                                    rope, because they provided a   to their old way of doing things.
                                                    better choice of drill sizes and   Which means here in the U.S. we
                                                    thread choices in some sizes.   stand  alone  –  with  the  exception,  as
        Final inspection of cable assemblies in the Loos & Company
        Wire and Wire Rope Technologies Division.   This change did not increase                continued on page 30
         28     Wire Rope News & Sling Technology   April 2017
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