Cat to build North American mini-excavator and small tractor plant

By Murray Pollok11 November 2011

Caterpillar's Sagami plant will focus on high-tech components.

Caterpillar's Sagami plant will focus on high-tech components.

Caterpillar is to switch manufacture of mini-excavators and small track-type tractors from its Sagami facility in Japan to a new factory in North America.

The new facility will become the global source for small tractors and the source for North and South American mini-excavator customers. It will also export partially assembled mini-excavator base units to Europe for final assembly.

The Sagami plant will become a high-tech component facility, with a particular focus on supporting the company's growing Asia/Pacific operations.

Construction of the North American facility is likely to start in the first half of 2012 and the location will be decided before the end of the year.

Cat said the decision to shift production of these models to North America was driven by the proximity to a large base of customers in North America and Europe. It said shipping partially assembled base units to Europe would improve delivery times in Europe.

Caterpillar already receives sub-3 t mini-excavators through a joint venture with Wacker Neuson, which makes the minis at a plant in Linz, Austria. The Sagami location makes larger machines in the 3 to 8 t sizes.

"The markets for smaller track-type tractors and mini hydraulic excavators have evolved significantly in the past 30 years, with the majority of customers now located in North America and Europe," said Caterpillar Building Construction Products (BCP) vice president Mary Bell.

"Producing these machines at a North American location will put us in the best possible position to serve our customers in the building construction industry".

When fully operational, the North American facility is expected to employ more than 1000 people. Work at the facility - which will be part of Caterpillar's BCP division - will include major fabrications, painting and final assembly.

Ms Bell said the location of the new facility will be determined by the need to optimise "product availability, minimising logistics costs to our domestic and export customers, and that better positions Caterpillar to meet its overall business goals."

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