Centre left to right: David Goldspink, Caterpillar Vice President and General Manager, and Professor Nick Jennings, Loughborough University Vice-Chancellor, with members of Caterpillar and the Innovation and Research Centre.

Loughborough University and Caterpillar have formally agreed to continue a strategic collaboration launched more than 25 years ago to accelerate innovative technologies within the off-highway powertrain sector.

The collaboration began in the late 90s and led to the establishment on the University campus of the Innovation and Research Centre (IRC) with world-class facilities and expertise in the field of engines, engine sub-systems and hybrid powertrain systems development.

The IRC was the first long term collaboration between Caterpillar and a university in Europe. It delivers research that addresses fundamental questions, discovering and developing new engineering processes and components applied worldwide by Caterpillar and its global supply chain.

Over the years the IRC’s many projects spanning control, thermal management, aftertreatment and more recently hybridisation, materials, data analytics and digitisation have earned international academic respect, delivering commercial value as well as far-reaching economic and societal impact.

A notable example is a £26m project delivered in conjunction with the UK’s Advanced Propulsion Centre to facilitate Advanced Systems for Carbon Emission reduction through New Technology (ASCENT). The project enabled a major upgrade of the Cat® C4.4 and C7.1 heavy-duty diesel engines to align with Stage 5 emission standards, ultimately providing an annual production saving of over 270k tonnes of C02, the creation of 250 jobs and almost £300m wider economic benefits in the UK.

ASCENT also enabled the University to further enhance its leading reputation in the field of optical diagnostics, advancement measurement and component design, train six new researchers and deliver 27 influential research publications.

Caterpillar’s collaboration with Loughborough is having a profound impact on the provision of industrial skills, providing invaluable professional development to all levels of engineers in the company through bespoke courses, as well as recruiting more UK-based graduates from Loughborough than any other university.

Adrian Spencer, Professor in Thermo-fluid Mechanics at Loughborough University and Director of the Innovation and Research Centre comments: “Loughborough and Caterpillar are committed to accelerating solutions for a more sustainable future and enabling an inclusive and diverse workforce. Through the IRC, we look forward to another five years of pushing the boundaries in research and innovation to keep pace with the rapidly changing heavy-duty vehicles sector.”

David Goldspink, Caterpillar Vice President and General Manager added: “It is rare that we are able to step back and appreciate the excellent work that the Loughborough and Caterpillar teams have achieved. We look forward to working together to ensure the synergy between great technical research and future talent continues long into the future.”