QUESTION: What products are produced at the
Chattanooga Manufacturing Operation (CMO)?
ANSWER: We currently produce six sizes
of hydraulic excavators, ranging from the
PC210LC-11 to the PC490LC-11. These models
are primarily sold in North America, but we also
export one model to Latin America and South
America. In addition, we produce three sizes
of forestry excavators, from a PC210LL-10 to a
PC390LL-10, and four sizes of forestry tracked
harvesters and tracked feller bunchers, from the
XT430-3 to the XT460-3. We are the only Komatsu
plant in the world that builds specialized forestry
track machines, and we ship them all over the
QUESTION: Why should a customer buy a
machine produced at CMO?
ANSWER: The hydraulic excavators we build
at CMO are also built in several other Komatsu
factories around the world, in order to better serve
local markets. Each factory uses the same parts,
designs and quality standards, so users should not
be able to tell the difference between an excavator
built in a plant in Japan or the United Kingdom
versus one built at CMO. In addition to high
quality, CMO’s mission is quick delivery with
whatever options a customer may need. Our staff
works regularly with distributors and customers
to ensure we meet or exceed their expectations.
Being a part of the North American market means
we can offer options on our machines that are
not normally found in other parts of the world.
For example, we offer pipeline spec hydraulic
excavators with single grouser tracks and
severe-duty revolving-frame undercovers.
QUESTION: How do you prepare for new
models, such as the Tier 4 Final products?
ANSWER: We start planning almost a year before
our first build date, determining equipment
requirements and laying out a detailed schedule
of events. For all model changes, we work
closely with the engineering and manufacturing
groups to understand the fabrication and
assembly differences. We have weekly meetings
with all departments involved to understand
the status of everyone’s activities and ensure
we are all on schedule. We invite a staff member
from the hydraulic excavator design group
to stay at our plant during our first builds, so
we have immediate feedback if we have any
questions during the assembly process. After
completing the first machine, we send it to
our Cartersville Demonstration Center for
operation and final evaluation. Once everything
is complete, the product is released for sale to
QUESTION: What are the markets
(construction, utility) like now, and how do
you adjust to ensure machines are available?
ANSWER: The construction-equipment market
in North America has been growing throughout
the last five years. Our plant works closely with
Komatsu America’s Supply Chain Division to
make sure our production plans are in sync with
market requirements. We use KOMTRAX to see
usage trends by model, which helps us predict
and verify marketing forecasts. We have worked
hard during the last several years to reduce
our lead times to our customers. The time from
receiving a distributor order to making the
machine ready to ship was two months in 2009.
Now, it’s three to five days, on average.
QUESTION: Do you encourage customers to
visit CMO, and why or why not?
ANSWER: CMO always welcomes customer
visits. We have customers at the plant on a
weekly basis. A tour can be as small as one
contractor with his wife and children passing
through the Chattanooga area to as large as
75 people a day as part of Demo Days activities
held just down the road at Cartersville. We love
to show off our facility and allow people to see
how the Komatsu machines, which we consider
to be the best, are manufactured. Customers
can see for themselves that we strive to keep the
plant safe and clean for our workforce. They can
also see how we build quality into each step of
the process as frames are welded or as machines
move down the assembly line.