Caterpillar Inc. executives and governmental leaders from Wuxi, and Jiangsu province China last week officially opened the company’s new multi-functional research and development center in Wuxi, Jiangsu province. The Wuxi R&D center will focus on engine and component product and process development, validation, localization and technological training.

Among its many functions, the new center will have an engine test facility with performance and emissions development capability, an advanced materials laboratory, an electronics laboratory, a system and machine integration facility and validation capability.

“As Caterpillar continues to increase its manufacturing presence in China to support our growing Chinese customer base, it is strategically important to have world-class product development and validation facilities in the region,” said Tana Utley, Caterpillar vice president and chief technology officer.

The center is strategically located near Caterpillar’s component manufacturing facility in Wuxi that began production in June 2006, and the company’s Wuxi engine campus, which began production in 2009. It is also near the medium wheel loader and motor grader manufacturing facility in Suzhou, which began production in October 2009.

The Wuxi R&D center is the third such Caterpillar facility in China. In 2005, Caterpillar established an R&D Center in Qingdao, Shandong Province for product and process development in China. Caterpillar also has a design center in Xuzhou established in 2003, primarily focused on product improvement. Caterpillar has been building out its China business footprint in recent years, and now employs more than 5,800 people in China across 11 manufacturing facilities and 10 business offices.

“For more than 30 years, Caterpillar and its dealers have been investing in China to support our customers and to help drive the unparalleled economic progress that has taken place during that time,” said Jiming Zhu, Caterpillar China Division vice president. “China represents the single-largest opportunity for growth for Caterpillar, and our investment in the Wuxi R&D center is yet another clear indication of Caterpillar’s commitment to our customers.”

With 2008 sales and revenues of $51.3 billion, Caterpillar is a leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines and industrial gas turbines.