Caterpillar may up production 20%


Caterpillar Japan Ltd., a unit of the world’s biggest construction-equipment maker, said it plans to produce a record number of excavators this year as the nation rebuilds infrastructure following the March 11 disasters in parts of the Tohoku region.

The venture between U.S.-based Caterpillar Inc. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. may up output by 20 percent at its Akashi plant in Hyogo Prefecture, spokesman Mutsumi Miyanaga said Tuesday.

Output at the Sagamihara plant near Tokyo that produces bulldozers and wheel-loaders will probably increase by 15 percent, he said, without giving actual production figures.

Caterpillar and rivals Komatsu Ltd. and Hitachi Construction Machinery Co. are boosting production at home to help rebuild areas devastated by the earthquake and tsunami. Construction machinery makers increased sales by 32 percent in the October-to-December quarter, according to a Jan. 31 presentation by Tokyo-based Komatsu. Sales from Southeast Asia gained 25 percent in the period, it said.

Caterpillar Japan will reconfigure three production lines at the Akashi plant to increase monthly excavator capacity to 2,000 units from 1,500 units, the Nikkei financial newspaper reported Tuesday.