US construction machinery and equipment manufacturer Catepillar will expand its plant in Northern Ireland

Caterpillar to expand UK parts plant

US construction machinery and equipment manufacturer Caterpillar will invest £5.4m to grow a truck parts manufacturing plant in Northern Ireland.

The decision, which will help to maintain up to 100 jobs in the Larne facility and enhance workers' skills, will see Caterpillar permanently source axles from the factory in Northern Ireland.

Test production of axles, key parts of trucks used for earth moving, mining and quarrying, has been underway in the facility for several months.

"This important announcement primarily recognises the high standard of the facilities, processes, skills and expertise in Northern Ireland,” said Caterpillar’s Northern Ireland operations director Robert Kennedy.

"It is also a testament to the cost competitiveness of manufacturing in Northern Ireland and advantages the local facilities have in terms of proximity to customers, access to ports and other transportation infrastructure."

Apart from the Larne facility, the company, formerly known as FG Wilson, also runs a facility in west Belfast.

About 18 months ago, 700 staff were laid off as the production of one of its generators was moved to a Caterpillar plant in China.

Caterpillar managing director for articulated trucks Phil Handley said: "Caterpillar NI operations are proven and very capable.

"We're happy with the level of quality we've had there, the team has been very responsive to our needs and has been really collaborating and working closely with us. It's an excellent source for these key components."

Caterpillar produces construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives.

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