Caterpillar’s construction equipment division has put together two partnerships with outside firms to offer tracking, tracing, and supply chain management services to its equipment customers in the construction market.

Peoria, IL-based Caterpillar and GPS provider Trimble are forming a joint venture to develop and manufacture advanced electronic guidance and control products for earthmoving machines in the construction, mining and waste industries. The companies, who have worked as partners for 6 years, are working toward a definitive agreement and the joint venture should begin operations in early 2002.

As part of the 50-50 jointly-owned venture, both Sunnyvale, CA-based Trimble and Caterpillar intend to contribute selected existing electronic products that combine GPS, laser, wireless communications, computing and software technologies into rugged on-board packages that improve productivity for the mining and construction markets.

On the supply chain front, Caterpillar, IBM Corp., and Dallas, TX-based i2 Technologies are working to integrate Caterpillar and its suppliers’ business systems to improve the coordination of production planning and resource scheduling.

The Value Chain Accelerator Program, developed by Caterpillar and supported by IBM and i2, focuses on strengthening the world’s leading value chain for the heavy equipment and engine industries, said Caterpillar. The program is designed to leverages Internet business tools to increase bottom-line savings for Caterpillar and its suppliers.

Via this system, Caterpillar’s suppliers should be able to realize production efficiencies through greater supply chain visibility, enabling more accurate capacity planning. Advanced insight into customer demand can also enable suppliers to procure and stock materials that Caterpillar and other customers require, Caterpillar said.