Modustri Software Helps Caterpillar Monitor Equipment’s Wear and Tear

The Grand Rapids, MI-based heavy-equipment technology startup Modustri announced it has entered into a strategic partnership with Caterpillar to develop new products that will help Caterpillar’s customers measure the amount of wear on their machines and better optimize their fleets. The exact terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We had an opportunity to understand the [industry’s] problems when we were working with a Caterpillar dealership,” said Brian Steketee, CEO and founder of Modustri. “We saw an opportunity for innovation in supporting technologies, in measuring and monitoring the undercarriage of heavy equipment, and we’re focused on simplifying the process of inspection.”

Modustri incorporates Web and mobile platforms for use in non-destructive testing and predictive maintenance, providing real-time data and allowing Caterpillar dealers and customers to better measure wear rates and manage parts replacements—including those from other suppliers. Steketee said Caterpillar wanted to get ahead of the “bring your own device” trend, so it began using tablets in the field to monitor its machines. Modustri designed software for use on tablets that deploys ultrasonic technology and wireless syncing to transmit data from inspections faster and cheaper.

“We set a goal of cutting inspection times in half, and in certain areas, we’ve definitely achieved that,” Steketee added.

The retail cost of “mid-level” heavy equipment from Caterpillar ranges between $100,000 and $1 million, Steketee said. In addition to the significant upfront investment, heavy equipment operators rarely work alone—usually, Steketee explained, they’re doing jobs with other machines. “If one is down, it has a ripple effect on the job site’s performance,” he said. “You can save hundreds of hours and millions of dollars by staying proactive.”

Modustri, which was founded in 2013 , has been “growing pretty fast,” Steketee said. The company currently has 20 employees, but after a planned hiring spree, Modustri is poised to double its staff in the next year. “We’re very fortunate to have aligned with Caterpillar,” Steketee said. “I think we can bring speed and efficiency as a nimble startup, and they bring access to the best dealer network in the industry.”

Modustri first caught the attention of Caterpillar about a year ago with a product that helps heavy equipment dealerships communicate with their customers and schedule appointments. Steketee said Modustri will roll out additional products for the heavy equipment market over the next two years.

“There’s such a large market of machine owners globally—we give dealers more tools to engage with their customers and minimize things like unplanned downtime, which can have a detrimental effect on fleets,” he said.

Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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