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Cat reducing manufacturing footprints at two locations; no job loss to result

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Caterpillar Inc. said Monday it will transform and reduce the size of two of its facilities in an effort to improve efficiency.

In a news release issued late afternoon, the company said it will consolidate the operations it now has in Aurora, reducing manufacturing there by more than 1 million square feet and ceasing operations in one of the largest buildings on the Aurora Caterpillar campus.

Caterpillar will continue to produce large and medium-sized wheel loaders, compactors and wheel dozers in Aurora. It also will continue to make powertrain and tube components for those products. Caterpillar spokeswoman Barbara Cox said the company does not anticipate there will be any loss of jobs with the moves. She added that some of the employees at the Aurora campus may have to change jobs when they move to a different building to avoid duplication.

In South Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Caterpillar plans to redesign and retool its plant there and reduce its manufacturing footprint by more than 260,000 square feet, the company said in the release.

Caterpillar will continue to make electric rope shovels, hydraulic mining shovels and draglines at the South Milwaukee plant. No positions are expected to be affected by the move, Cox said.

Work to consolidate operations at each campus will begin immediately, the company said.

“We continue to evaluate our operations for efficiency, to lower costs and to improve competitiveness. This decision allows us to more competitively position the products produced on these campuses, and it provides employees in these facilities clarity around our long-term plans for maintaining production,” said Ed Rapp, Caterpillar group president responsible for Resource Industries.

“The significant reduction of floor space will enable us to increase efficiencies by updating our tooling and reducing material flow through the installation of single stream manufacturing concepts. In turn, we will be able to better optimize both of these locations. We are proud of our employees and the quality products they safely produce for our customers every day, and believe this decision will help better prepare us for the long term,” Rapp said.

This announcement comes just 10 days after the company announced that 150 employees in its mining equipment plant in Decatur would be laid off indefinitely because of continued weakness in that industry. Caterpillar laid off more than 100 from the Decatur plant in January.

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).