Management Team Voices



GM says Supply Chain Division’s mission is to have the right machine, at the right place, at the right time

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 your mission?

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 machinery?

Komatsu’s Supply Chain Division

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 available.

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 you do?

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.