Cat makes more restructuring moves; no local jobs affected

Log in to save this page.
600px Caterpillar logo

Caterpillar Inc. announced Thursday it will discontinue production of one item made in Pennsylvania, repurpose one plant and sell off other products manufacturing as it continues restructuring to withstand the current down cycle.

The changes in the mining products division will cause the loss of some jobs and the possible closure of a Pennsylvania plant but also will mean the relocation of some work to Caterpillar’s Decatur, Illinois facility, the company said in the announcement.

"These moves, which align with Caterpillar's ongoing restructuring, will allow us to focus resources on those areas of the business that provide the highest, sustainable growth and best long-term returns," said Denise Johnson, group president responsible for Resource Industries, including mining.

To attain that objective, the company said it will focus on those products with the greatest growth potential by pursing strategic alternatives, including possible divestiture, for its room and pillar products that serve a segment of underground soft rock mining customers. The company will also discontinue production of track drills within its Resource Industries portfolio.

“The company and its dealers remain committed to existing customers and will support those room and pillar and track drill fleets currently in operation,” the news release said.  

The room and pillar underground mining products under strategic review include continuous miners, feeder breakers, coal haulage systems, highwall miners, roof bolters, utility vehicles and diesel vehicles. While under review, Caterpillar will stop taking new orders for those products.

Production of track drills will be discontinued, and no new orders will be taken, the company said.

"Caterpillar remains committed to an extensive mining product portfolio. We firmly believe mining is an attractive long-term industry, and we continue to invest in a broad range of products, both surface and underground. We are targeting our investments within the mining product portfolio to concentrate on those areas with the highest profitability potential," said Johnson. "At the same time, we continue to manage through the longest down-cycle in our history. We know these ongoing restructuring actions are not easy on our workforce; I'm grateful for our team's ongoing dedication."  

The company said it expects to reduce the workforce in Houston, Pennsylvania, where the room and pillar products are manufactured. While the company intends to sell the room and pillar products, it will also assess other options, including a possible closure of the Houston facility.

Total workforce reductions of up to 155 positions associated with the room and pillar business are expected, with some occurring immediately. These actions will more closely align employment levels with current end-market demand.

In Denison, Texas, where track drills are produced, approximately 40 positions will be eliminated as a result of the track drill exit and other facility restructuring.

In addition, Caterpillar said it continues to evaluate the most efficient and effective use of its manufacturing footprint. To that end the company announced it will repurpose its Winston-Salem, North Carolina, facility, transitioning it from a mining to a rail facility beginning later this year. Operations will transfer to Progress Rail, a wholly owned Caterpillar subsidiary.

As a result, the company will relocate the manufacturing of some components used in large mining trucks from its facility in Winston-Salem to its existing facility in Decatur. The company did not say whether additional jobs would result.

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).