My favorite days of the year are weekdays when the stock market is closed. That’s the day when CNBC re-runs all the shows about business. On Presidents Day, the largest dump truck in the world was featured. Built and designed by Caterpillar, the 797b is a humungous machine that hauls heavy oil soaked sands on the Alberta, Canada shale fields.
What’s the fascination with heavy equipment? My investment club chose CAT to be part of our portfolio, even though most of its members were appalled to learn Caterpillar is a non-union company. I didn’t tell them until after they voted in the purchase.
But the main reason I was glued to the television screen like a bookie during the Super Bowl, is that I’m fascinated by why businesses get started, and why they become wildly successful. There’s always a need that’s filled, and it usually involves inventions and repeated technological break throughs. Furthermore, these companies were often started by one man with a vision, plus the guts, intelligence and sheer determination to carry it through.
Take for example the largest dump truck in the world. The 797b needs to run in harsh conditions, 24-7. There are special tires to manufacture that cost between $50,000 – $100,000 each, as well as a specially designed diesel engine that can run around-the-clock. (Yes, there was even a Mr. Rudolf Diesel behind this invention, whose mysterious disappearance and death is a story unto itself.)
To build this oil sands hauling machine takes:
• 6 factories
• 700 tons of materials
• lots of teams, and
• 80 days before the truck is driven 1.5 hours to it’s final destination
Just assembling the truck’s flatbed involves hundreds of other inventions like the humble winch and chain, the manufacturing of huge nuts and bolts, computer assisted cranes for a solid fit, and lots of welding by humans and robots with different gasses because different gasses create different temperatures.
There’s even transportation to consider because how do you get the worlds largest dump truck to the customer? A specially designed 140 foot long trailer, of course.
But wait, there’s more! There’s a business behind this, too! Somebody has got to make enough money to keep our elected officials on the dole.
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