Caterpillar is set to strengthen its position in the Middle East with the opening of a new $7-million technical and sales training centre for the Africa and Middle East (AME) region in Dubai.
The 1,700-sq-m facility located in Jebel Ali Free Zone will deliver its first course next month (December), although it will be officially inaugurated in April next year.
The training centre will employ about 40 people, mostly high-level technical staff who will primarily be recruited from the region. It will cover 24 dealers from 66 countries.
“The more than 7,000 technicians at AME Cat dealers have some of the most direct connections with Caterpillar customers as they service and maintain their equipment. The training they’ll receive at the new centre will help enhance their skills and knowledge on both product and the latest product support technologies,” said Dodi Hendra, training manager.
The new facility is located adjacent to the 46,452-sq-m Caterpillar Middle East parts distribution centre (MEDC), which was opened in 2013 to support the East Africa and the Middle East region.
“With the training facility, we are strengthening our position in the market,” said Hendra. “This centre will offer sales and technical training. For training of operators, we have a centre in Malaga, Spain.”
He continued: “We decided to build this facility in order to be closer to our customers in the region. This initiative was launched in 2012 with planning; we started the actual construction work in March this year and expect the work to be completed this month (November). We are looking at delivering the first course in December. The opening ceremony has been delayed and will be in April 2016.”
Commenting on the new centre, David Crabb, district office manager for the Middle East, said. “Excellent service is the key for Caterpillar as it is the biggest contributor to customer loyalty. This facility is an investment to improve customer loyalty and strengthening the ties further.”
Crabb also points out that Caterpillar is a diversified company today. “Back in the 80s, it was purely construction. Today we have construction, resources and energy and transportation industries. In this region too, we cater to the construction sector as well as energy and transportation,” he said.
The training facility currently has four instructors and Hendra said Caterpillar is working on sessions for the next year. This December, it will run three courses and the first course will see people come from all over Africa and the Middle East. Caterpillar plans to hold 50 to 60 classes a year but this number could grow according to requirements.
The centre will deliver different kinds of training – technical training for dealers and customers, service and sales training.
“We will cater to the demands from sales and marketing and provide training for different machines, energy and transportation equipment, power systems, course related to machines, electric power generators, marine products and also industrial engines,” said Hendra. “We also have a very robust curriculum for our sales people. We organise seminars on products that we sell and also on how to serve customers better.”
Some of the many courses offered by Caterpillar are even delivered at the dealers’ or customers’ site.
“We will have simulators here as well as at customer job sites. Operator training is a big thing and here we offer it through dealers at job sites,” Hendra added.
The new facility also features a fluid analysis laboratory, which will provide preventive maintenance services to customers and dealers throughout the region.
“We will provide the service through our dealers to customers and take periodic sampling from machines for analysis. There will be three kinds of sampling – oil, fluid and coolant. This will help analyse the character of the fluid to determine if it needs to be changed. We will also look at the composition of the fluid and find out if a repair is required. The analysis will also determine if the customer needs to change the maintenance structure and also on how to change the way the equipment is used. It would mainly help repair before it fails,” said Hendra.
Building on its 90-year legacy of providing unmatched product support around the world, Caterpillar recently announced reorganisation of its dealer and customer support divisions. These changes are designed to enhance and speed the delivery of customer support while simplifying the way Caterpillar interacts with its global dealer network.
The Distribution Services divisions – the primary interface with its dealers – have been reduced to two divisions from three. The two groups will maintain sole responsibility for dealer development and performance, succession and continuity, along with portfolio management, operational excellence and across-the-table strategy execution. The two divisions include the Asia Pacific, CIS, Africa and Middle East Distribution Division, and the Americas and Europe Distribution Division.
Commenting on the reorganisation, Crabb said: “The market is very turbulent so we need to be prepared to do the best. Reorganisation has been positive for the Middle East. We are seeing more and more demand for products designed for the Middle East markets.
“Our regional office in Jebel Ali is mainly focused on the Middle East – Gulf countries, Lebanon, Jordan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Ethiopia. As this office is slightly bigger, we do support other regional offices from here.”