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Cat may move Aurora production to other facilities

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Caterpillar Inc. said Wednesday it is contemplating moving machine production from its Aurora plant to other facilities, including in Decatur, as it continues to restructure operations.

Such a move would take 800 productions jobs from the Aurora facility, but it would not eliminate those positions, Caterpillar spokeswoman Jamie Fox said. About 1,200 other jobs, largely engineering and product support positions, would remain in Aurora, she said.

Caterpillar is expected to make a final decision about Aurora is the second quarter of 2017, Fox said.

“This isn’t about eliminating jobs. It’s about consolidating our footprint and reducing excess capacity,” she said.

This move would be in addition to the global restructuring and cost savings plan the company announced in September 2015 that including the elimination of thousands of jobs and the closing and/or consolidation of several facilities worldwide.

The Aurora facility is where Caterpillar manufactures large and medium wheel loaders, compactors, wheel dozers, power train and tube components. If the move is made, production of large wheel loaders and compactors would move to Decatur with about 500 jobs and medium wheel loaders and 150 jobs would move to North Little Rock, Arkansas. Fox said the other production and related jobs would be moved to other facilities, as well.

All the moves are being made because worldwide economies are dragging Caterpillar sales and revenues down for the fifth consecutive year, an unprecedented down cycle in the company’s history.

“Faced with lower demand, we continue to evaluate our global manufacturing capacity. We must use our existing space in the most efficient way possible while maintaining the ability to meet demand when it returns,” said Denise Johnson, Caterpillar group president responsible for resource industries.

“Should we move forward with the decision to relocate production, we will support the local leaders to mitigate the impact on our employees, their families and the community,” said Johnson. “We value and respect the significant contributions all employees in Aurora have made in ensuring Caterpillar maintains its unparalleled record of quality and service to our customers and dealer network.”

Caterpillar is scheduled to announce its 2016 fourth quarter and year-end financial results on Jan. 26.

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).