Trimble, Sunnyvale, Calif. and Caterpillar Inc., Peoria, Ill., announced their plan to form a joint venture to develop and manufacture advanced electronic guidance and control products for earthmoving machines in construction, mining and waste. The companies are in the process of developing a definitive agreement and the joint venture is scheduled to begin operations in 2002.

As part of the 50-50, jointly-owned venture, Trimble and Caterpillar plan to contribute selected existing electronic products that combine GPS, laser, wireless communications, computing and software technologies into on-board packages that improve productivity for mining and construction. Under the proposed financial terms, both parties will contribute about $11 million to form the joint venture. Trimble plans to transfer machine control technology in exchange for about $22 million from the venture.

The venture will develop machine control products that use site design information and accurate positioning technology to automatically control dozer blades and other machine tools. This machine control technology will combine Trimble positioning technology with capability gained through the acquisition of Spectra Precision. The companies intend the joint venture to be the exclusive supplier to Trimble and Caterpillar. Each company will market, distribute, service, and support products using their independent distribution channels. Caterpillar will offer products as a factory-installed option and Trimble will address the aftermarket with products for earthmoving machines from equipment manufacturers.