The US company is to expand its NI operations to produce articulated truck axles.It expects the move will maintain up to 100 jobs at its plant in Larne, Co Antrim.Robert Kennedy, from Caterpillar, said: "This important announcement primarily recognises the high standard of the facilities, processes, skills and expertise in NI."The NI operations director added: "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."Production of the axles, which are a key component of Caterpillar's articulated trucks, got underway in NI on a preliminary basis some months ago.The company said the parts will now be permanently sourced from local facilities.Phil Handley, Caterpillar's Managing Director for Articulated Trucks, 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."The announcement has been welcomed by local politicians.Stewart Dickson, Alliance East Antrim MLA, described the development as "a vote of confidence in Caterpillar's highly skilled and dedicated workforce.""It is tremendous news for the local and wider economy. It shows that Northern Ireland can play a part in a major international business deal."I am particularly pleased to see Caterpillar investing in Northern Ireland after 700 workers were made redundant two years ago," he added."This is the latest in a series of positive signs for our economy following a number of similar job announcements and contracts at other companies such as Bombardier, Terumo and Thales."Alastair Ross, DUP MLA for East Antrim, said: "The decision to permanently source axles from the Larne plant is testament to the quality and expertise located in the plant, and proof that production plants in Northern Ireland can help the company remain globally competitive."This is such an important employer East Antrim, and today's announcement will be welcomed by everyone who holds the company in such high regard."Roy Beggs, the UUP's East Antrim MLA, said: "700 jobs went at FG Wilsons in 2012 following the relocation of a major part of their generator manufacturing business to the Far East 18 months ago."Therefore the news that the company - now rebadged under the Caterpillar banner - is developing new lines which is securing the jobs that have remained in the Larne facility is very encouraging. It is to be hoped that additional employment will result from this investment."