Medusa’s Moment: The Untold Experiment Behind the Hybrid Excavator

October 1, 2015

At Caterpillar, we don’t often talk about how the sausage gets made. 

Maybe that’s because we don’t make sausage, but you get the idea. 

The truth is, the process of putting together a successful product always has its challenges. And that’s okay – a story without some obstacles to overcome isn’t a very good story. 

The development of the Cat® 336E H Hybrid Excavator is a great story with a happy ending: The product has received industry-wide praise for performance and fuel efficiency. But the journey to get there was filled with trial and error. That’s really what innovation is all about. 

You experiment. 

You learn.  

You get customer feedback, and you keep improving. 

That’s exactly what the teams who worked on the electric hybrid excavator and the hydraulic hybrid excavator did. 

“We felt like we were under tremendous pressure to do what our competitors were doing,” said Ken Gray, Caterpillar’s director of innovation and former worldwide product manager for large excavators. “They had already introduced electric hybrids. We had not…. We were in what I think of as an industry-wide groupthink that a hybrid machine had to be electric.”

Watch the behind-the-scenes story of how some very valuable customer feedback changed everything and helped our teams introduce a lasting legacy: the 336E H we affectionately refer to as Medusa. 

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