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Pushing the Limits: Florida Marine Transporters Goes Caterpillar

Hamburg, Germany – Caterpillar marine dealer Louisiana Machinery Power Systems (LMPS) has concluded a deal to supply Cat® engines for ten inland river push boats. LMPS, which is covering parts of the US Gulf Coast and the Mississippi River, signed the deal with Florida Marine Transporters (FMT), Mandeville, Louisiana. The push boats will be built at Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Panama City, Florida. Each boat will feature 2x Cat 3512C main engines and 2x Cat C4.4 generator sets and all will be financed by Cat Finance.

Back in 2005, FMT signed a contract for 25 new push boats, each of 90ft (27m) length, 32ft (10m) width and 10ft (3m) draught. This first series of vessels has already been delivered. In 2007 and 2008, FMT signed two additional contracts for ten vessels each. Under the latest order one boat a month will be delivered starting in February 2009. In addition, FMT is purchasing ten Cat C9 generator sets to re-power aged gensets in their existing fleet.

A working relationship

FMT was established in Florida in 1994. After being bought by Dennis Pasentine, the company moved to Louisiana and has since grown strongly. Today, FMT operates a fleet of more than 50 tugs/push boats and over 100 barges. Around 650 employees provide a full range of marine services on the Mississippi River and the US Intracoastal Waterway, with a special focus on the oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico.

Of the existing fleet, more than 30 boats are powered by Cat 3500-series marine engines. According to Jeff Brumfield, senior project manager at FMT, the key reasons to go with Caterpillar marine power systems have been engine price, dependability, maintenance and support. Furthermore, LMPS’s team of marine experts is always close to the customer. “For example, we have an employee who is dedicated to train FMT personnel in engine maintenance and troubleshooting,” said Bob Tournet, sales representative at LMPS. In cooperation with Caterpillar laboratories, LMPS also provides lube oil analysis (sample oil service, SOS) for Cat marine engines in the FMT fleet. “There have been a couple of cases where SOS provided valuable insights into engine health,” Brumfield confirmed.

A team approach

The latest contract between FMT and LMPS to power another ten push boats with both Cat main engines and generator sets has reinforced their partnership and the business ties established with CMPS. This is also underscored by FMT’s intention to replace third-party gensets on 25 of its existing vessels with Cat product over the next one to two years. All 20 Cat 3512C engines sold under the latest contract will get new EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) Tier 2-compliant ratings of 969bkW (1,300mhp) at 1,200rpm, suitable for unrestricted continuous operation. So the FMT project marks another chapter in the success story of the Cat 3500-series, of which thousands have been sold for workboat applications across the globe.

CMPS sales representative John Shock, Cat financial account manager Robert Hughes and the team at Louisiana Machinery Power Systems worked together to offer FMT a comprehensive solutions package. Shock commented, “This is a great example proving that if we sell the value of Caterpillar, i.e. the integration of prime product, financial solutions and lifetime product support, we will meet highest customer expectations. Quality, reliability and durability of Cat marine product are undisputed anyway.”

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