In a colossal effort to dramatically enhance its service and commitment to mining, construction and transport operations throughout NSW and the ACT, high profile Caterpillar dealer WesTrac has officially opened its new operational headquarters and training facility in Tomago, near Newcastle.
Ideally located to service the vast Hunter Valley mining and transport region, the state-of-the-art facility was built at a cost of $160 million and is one of 33 WesTrac operations across Australia. The centre will employ more than 500 staff. WesTrac is ranked among the top five Caterpillar dealerships in the world.
A critical component of the new headquarters is the $12 million WesTrac Institute. Following the recent expansion of the first WesTrac institute in Perth, the Tomago site is the second dedicated Caterpillar training facility to be opened by the group.
From 2013, the WesTrac Institute is expected to train about 500 apprentices and trades people in a wide variety of heavy machinery and related roles.
The new Tomago operation comprises 12 major purpose-built facilities with the facility covering a massive 560,000 cubic metres of building space, spanning 700 metres from front to rear. It features a 12,000 square metre parts distribution centre as well as a dedicated highway truck centre, component rebuilt centre, general workshop and machine wash bay.
From the outset the highway truck centre was considered a critical part of the new facility, purpose-built to service the Cat truck range. According to WesTrac, the truck centre follows the company’s bumper-to-bumper business model by operating 24 hours a day.
The dedicated truck area covers almost 2300 square metres and has 18 workshop bays which accommodate up to 19 prime movers and 50 staff.
With direct customer access through an independent entry away from the main site, the carefully designed truck centre has a modern, well appointed driver’s lounge with four dedicated sleeping quarters, washrooms and laundries.
Further afield in other news connected with Cat highway trucks, troubled US truck builder Navistar has announced the closure of its Garland production plant in Texas by the first half of 2013 to reduce costs and optimize its manufacturing footprint.
Currently, the Garland plant produces the International Prostar models on which Australia’s Cat trucks are produced.
According to our sources, however, production of Cat trucks for Australia will be simply transferred to another Navistar factory, although it’s not yet clear whether that factory will be in the US or elsewhere.
“The fact is that Navistar has too much manufacturing capacity in North America and we must take quick action to improve our business and position the company for long-term success,” said Troy Clarke, Navistar president and chief operating officer.
The Garland plant’s shutdown is expected to save Navistar as much as $35 million a year.
Truck volume now produced at Garland will transition to other North America operations that currently build similar models beginning in January 2013.