What made this project successful was communication; that was the key.

When Caterpillar dealer, Gough Gough and Hamer, won a major new contract to expand a mine in New Zealand it was down to the equipment manufacturer to find a delivery route that was both flexible and cost effective.

Caterpillar, or CAT® as it is widely known, turned to long term partner Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL) for the answer. The two companies have worked together for many years and WWL regularly carries CAT trucks and ‘dozers from factories in the US and the UK to Oceania – but this turned out to be no ordinary shipment.

“One of our dealers in New Zealand won the contract to supply equipment to expand a mine down at Stockton on the South Island. But the traditional route is for all equipment to go into Auckland and that would have meant transporting it at considerable cost down the country,” explains Ashley Goodfellow, Dealer Service & Transportation Manager for CAT Australia.

“We had to ask whether there was a better solution. This was a question of both cost and time. If we could ship to Lyttleton (the port for Christchurch, New Zealand) then we would save some dollars and get the kit up and running quicker. It would put the equipment straight on the ground for the dealer.”

The contract was put out to tender through CAT’s global ocean procurement department, managed by Pravin Rajakrishna, and several carriers were approached. But WWL’s flexibility, cost effectiveness and high level of customer care were sufficient to win the day.

“WWL has a proven record with us. They know our product, have the right vessels and care about our equipment. It made sense to find a solution with them,” says Goodfellow.

While the route into Lyttleton seemed obvious, there were still some challenges to overcome around timing, cargo volumes and logistics. For a start, WWL had never called at Lyttleton before so there were questions over port handling, unloading and even whether the vessels would fit.

“What made this project successful was communication; that was the key,” says Flavio Batista, WWL Vice-President Latin America and the global account manager for CAT.

“All the divisions of WWL – trade, sales, operations and customer care – were involved in this project. There was a lot of co-ordination and planning and we had constant dialogue with CAT, both in the US and Australia and New Zealand, as far as cargo readiness and port infrastructure was concerned.”

And this all happened not once, but twice. WWL made two successful shipments to Lyttleton with the initial cargo of 2200 cubic metres on the m/v Tamerlane followed by an even bigger 2500 cubic metre shipment on the m/v Aniara.

The cargo was not just rolling units, such as trucks, bulldozers and excavators, but also knock-down units in break bulk, some of which had to be assembled on arrival. Both shipments passed off without a hitch.

“Planning is everything,” says Batista. “Plan a job right and you execute it right. We had no issues in the execution.”

Ashley Goodfellow at CAT agrees. “All the deadlines were hit and it all went very smoothly,” he says. “Everybody in Lyttleton was very ‘hands on’ and willing to get the job done. I was very impressed when we were there. It was a job well done.”

Since its inception more than 80 years ago, Caterpillar has grown to be the largest maker of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines and industrial gas turbines in the world. Known global by its trademark CAT®, the company employs more than 93,000 people around the world and distributes its products through a network of 178 CAT® dealers. It had revenue and sales in 2009 of $32.4bn and has its headquarters in Peoria, Illinois. Today, more than three million CAT® machines and engines are in active use in more than 180 countries around the world. CAT® equipment is at work on highways, rail lines, oceans and rivers, in forests, quarries and oil fields.