Management Team Voices

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AN INTEGRATED APPROACH

Komatsu Exec VP Manufacturing says customer input, strong engineering result in better machinery


Ken Furuse

QUESTION: During the past few years, several new machines have been introduced, and many more are coming soon. Where does the manufacturing of these machines begin?

ANSWER: It starts with ideas from our engineering teams as well as input from our customers. Building a new model begins with a goal in mind to improve upon the previous base machine’s already-proven performance and incorporate enhancements customers tell us they believe would make our equipment better. From that, we build a prototype and test it extensively, looking for further ways to provide more efficiency and productivity. By doing that, we ensure that when a machine goes into production, it will certainly meet and, we hope, exceed customer expectations.

As an example, our customers told us they would like machines that are plug-and-play ready to accept GPS machine-control systems. We have several models equipped with that as standard. We’re now taking it a step further with our new intelligent Machine Control D61i-23 dozers, which feature integrated 3D control and a cab-top antenna that eliminates the masts on the blade and cables to the cab. Our thorough testing shows significant improvement in efficiency and productivity, even from operators with little or no experience.

Ken Furuse - An Integrated Approach

QUESTION: It seems technology like this continues to play a greater role in machinery. Why is that?

ANSWER: It is, and we recently put together a new ICT (Intelligent Control Technology) Division designed to promote and help customers implement these types of technology into their fleets and practices because it’s proven to improve productivity and reduce owning and operating costs.

Komatsu continues to be very proactive when it comes to technology, and we’re seeing benefits both for customers and for us as a manufacturer. KOMTRAX plays a major role, and we’ve continued to expand upon it from the perspective of customers, again, with their input. Now customers can use that information to track production, such as idle time and work load.

QUESTION: How else is Komatsu working for greater efficiency in the manufacturing process?

ANSWER: We’ve increasingly engineered genuine Komatsu OEM components and systems into our equipment. These systems work in harmony and increase efficiency. Even with that approach, we still partner with outside suppliers for a variety of items, and this is a good thing because they also bring us new ideas that lead to improvement. Our goal is to use the highest-quality local and regional suppliers as this reduces environmental impact and costs associated with transportation.

QUESTION: Where is Komatsu in terms of meeting Tier 4 Final emissions standards?

ANSWER: Our approach with each emission standard was not only to meet it, but design and manufacture machines that improve upon previous models. Because we’re a strong engineering company, Komatsu has done that and our data proves it.

Initial Tier 4 Final machines begin rolling out this year with smaller engine-horsepower models, and larger machines are coming in subsequent years. As with past standards, we’re on track to meet or exceed the deadlines of Tier 4 Final.