Compiled By Jill Jusko Caterpillar Inc. has teamed up with IBM Corp. and i2 Technologies Inc. in an initiative to integrate Peoria, Ill.-based Caterpillar and its suppliers' business systems to improve coordination of production planning and resource scheduling. The new initiative is called the Value Chain Accelerator Program. "The integration of supplier systems will allow Caterpillar and its suppliers to coordinate material flow, thus improving Caterpillar's ability to meet customer demands," says Michael Hackerson, Caterpillar director of e-business. Greater supply-chain visibility and advanced insight into customer demand are elements of the initiative. "The ultimate goal is for Caterpillar's suppliers to see reduced process costs in the areas of new product development and schedule execution," adds Bruce Schuver, Caterpillar director of materials and procurement services. The program will leverage IBM's consulting and integration services and i2's supply-chain-management solutions. Solution packages also will include IBM infrastructure, middleware, hardware, and IBM/ASP hosting services.