The move is the final piece of the Thailand puzzle Caterpillar has been completing and follows earlier relocations of hard rock products from Brazil and Australia.
The move will affect the Cat workforce working from the Tasmanian premises in Burnie but the manufacturer has not revealed the extent of the planned job cuts.
Rather, it reassured its workforce, saying it was collaborating with the owner of the Burnie facilities, the Elphinstone Group, to brainstorm future alternative business activities onsite and canvass potential opportunities for some employees’ relocation to Cat’s new manufacturing hub in Thailand.
“We recognise that this decision will be difficult for our employees and their families,” Caterpillar vice president material handling Denise Johnson said.
“We value and appreciate our Burnie employees for their hard work, dedication, and strong commitment to quality over the past 20 years that Caterpillar has operated this facility.
“The decision to consolidate hard rock vehicle manufacturing is driven by competitive pressure to improve our cost structure and align Caterpillar's global capacity with demand.”
Elphinstone Group executive chairman Dale Elphinstone added: “We look forward to working with Caterpillar and believe the activities we have planned for the Burnie facilities have the potential to provide continued economic benefits for the region, as they have for the past 40 years.”
The transfer of production from Burnie to Rayong in Thailand is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2015 with the possibility of Elphinstone assuming responsibility for the remaining operations by the end of the current calendar year.
While the manufacturing is transitioning, the Caterpillar hard rock vehicle product group including engineering, product support and supporting organisations will continue to be based in Burnie.