QUESTION: What makes up Komatsu’s
Supply Chain Division?
ANSWER: We’re responsible for coordinating
the inventory and logistics of that inventory for
all construction, utility and forestry machines
in North America, including the machines that
come from our overseas factories. The Supply
Chain Division is made up of four distinct
departments: Import/Export Logistics, Customer
Support, Import Planning and Business Analysis.
Each has its unique responsibilities, but we all
work together to ensure we meet one simple
mission: Have the right machine, at the right
place, at the right time for the customer. I believe
our job is to tee up the ball for our distributors
and let them hit it down the fairway.
QUESTION: How do you go about achieving
ANSWER: It’s a well-orchestrated effort among
our departments and our global supply network,
which includes our own Komatsu factories and
outside vendors that support those factories. We
have a very close relationship with our sales,
marketing administration and product marketing
groups, so we know what’s on the horizon in
terms of model transitions and new products.
That helps us formulate a forward-looking
forecast and plan for having proper inventory
levels to ensure we have the right number of
machines on hand.
QUESTION: So those groups give you an
idea of what’s coming down the pike, and you
procure the materials in order to build the
ANSWER: Correct, and we’re focused on three
things as we do that: quality, delivery and cost.
From the start, Komatsu builds quality into its
machinery, by making its own components
that work in harmony for great efficiency and
durability. From the Supply Chain Division
standpoint, our goal is to have inventory
available that’s not too aged and, therefore,
potentially subject to quality issues.
Delivery goes back to having machines
where they need to be at the exact time
customers want to buy them. We can do that
by communicating with our dealers, customers
and Komatsu personnel, as well as using data
from KOMTRAX to track machine usage. That
communication and data help us know where
to put resources in order to ensure inventory is
Cost means we optimize efficiency, and
in doing so, we pass those savings along to
customers. For example, as Komatsu develops
a new model, we talk with our factories about
what we expect so they have time to procure
the components to build that machine. Proper
lead time typically helps them do that at lower
cost. We also try to find the most-efficient and
cost-effective way to ship without sacrificing
our ability to have equipment where it needs
to be when it needs to be there.
QUESTION: How do markets affect what
ANSWER: The energy market is strong
in North America right now, and housing
continues to strengthen. We hope for solid
highway and infrastructure bills, which
will put those areas back on track too. With
that in mind, we look to adjust inventories
to meet those needs. For instance, with a
strong energy market comes the need for
specialized machines, such as our Pipeline
Spec. excavators. So, we take that into account,
along with our other information, and use it to
ensure our distributor inventories are ready to
fulfill customers’ requests.