Tor 23 maj / År 42 / Nr 1 2024

Caterpillar Propulsion provides full-scale global operation from Öckerö

The global shipping industry is under constant change. In fact, few other trades are as dynamic as the marine industry, a characteristic providing both challenges and opportunities. The winds of change have been blowing for what was the family business Berg Propulsion as well. The company has been operating on the Öckerö islands in the northern archipelago of Gothenburg since the early 1900s. From 2013 the company has been part of the worldwide Caterpillar Marine Group and renamed Caterpillar Propulsion.

Caterpillar Propulsion has seen a tremendous development over the past century and has gone from the starting point as a small Swedish shipyard in 1912 to becoming a full-scale global operation.

Development since day one
Caterpillar Propulsion has been characterized by innovation and development since day one. The company moved from a small shipyard on to manufacturing propellers in the 1920s, but the most significant step was taken in 2008 as a wholly-owned factory was opened in Singapore. This was in conjunction with the marine industry’s all-time-high sales, at a time when new ships were ordered on a daily basis and the market opportunities seemed endless.
Although the recession descended on the global shipping industry shortly after that, Caterpillar Propulsion was able to continue development and growth thanks to the orders already received.
In 2013, the family business was acquired by U.S. based multi-national Caterpillar Inc. and thus, a slightly different view on how the company should be developed was introduced. As part of a large, global organisation, the Öckerö-based company now the means necessary to invest on a much larger scale than before, as well as taking advantage of Caterpillar’s world-class engineering and manufacturing expertise and market access through its global dealer network.

An all-comprehensive offer from Öckerö
Operations Manager Marit Börjesson describes the years 2006 to 2008 as the all-time-high of global shipping. During this time, the company was developed very quickly. The subsequent years were also good for Caterpillar Propulsion, despite many competitors beginning to downsize.
“We experienced what was then an all-time-high of our own as we went from a turnover of approximately SEK 35 million to over 1.3 billion. The previous owners considered the sale of the company to Caterpillar as a strategic step to keep the business thriving here on the Öckerö island, and a necessary measure to secure future investment with a strong global player behind the wheel”. Marit explains that one of the most important changes that the Öckerö-based company enjoys as a part of Caterpillar is that it is more comprehensive.
“Caterpillar Propulsion provides a complete range in propulsion, and all knowledge is available in-house at our factory here on the Öckerö islands. We are very positive about our future prospects. We have a lot of expertise, history and tradition linked to our current location, and on top of that we benefit from the strength of a global company”.

“Genuine tradition in all that we deliver”
Caterpillar has a clear vision when it comes to further development in the marine industry, and the Öckerö operations make up an important piece of the puzzle. The ambition is to significantly increase the business within the Caterpillar Marine Group before 2020.
This will have a positive impact on Öckerö as well, as the local operations are likely to expand both in terms of turnover and manpower.
Marit summarises Caterpillar Propulsion’s advantage this way: “We have a clear focus on efficient, lean production and we can prove that we are competitive in a global market. We have about 200 employees here today, and without them we would never have come this far. The team is loyal, and accounts for an experience that is impossible to replace as it is built on a genuine tradition, which becomes clear in all that we deliver.”