General Manager Don Russell says Komatsu’s NMO is dedicated to customer satisfaction
QUESTION: How has the Newberry
Manufacturing Operation (NMO) changed?
ANSWER: This facility opened in 2002 as
Komatsu’s utility plant with the production of
backhoe loaders, and it continued as our utility
location until last year. About a year ago, we
began producing wheel loaders ranging in
size from the 170-horsepower WA320-6 to the
350-horsepower WA500-6. We shipped our
first loader from here in December 2009 and
have steadily increased production.
Primarily, it’s an assembly plant, although we
do manufacture a wheel loader frame, and we
have product support engineering. NMO has the
capacity to produce about 900 wheel loaders a
year. We’re also producing 13 models of Komatsu
fork lifts in LP gas, regular gasoline and diesel
configurations for both indoor and outdoor use.
QUESTION: What hasn’t changed?
ANSWER: As with all our manufacturing
operations, the focus on quality remains
our utmost priority. We produce some stock
machines, but the vast majority of our loaders
are custom-built for customers who have unique
specifications for their machines that are used
in a wide range of applications — agriculture,
construction, forestry and mining. Those specs
could include a high-lift boom, a certain size
bucket or a number of other things. They rely on
Komatsu machines for their livelihood, and each
of the approximately 160 employees who work
here understands that.
Every machine that’s shipped out of
here goes through a thorough inspection to
check all systems, functions and a long list
of other items. NMO is certified as both ISO
9001, which means it meets strict standards
of operation, and ISO 14000. The latter
shows that we’re a facility focused on using
environmentally sound practices.
QUESTION: Why are those certifications
ANSWER: Equipment users have high
standards and they want to do business with
a manufacturer that also sets and meets high
standards. The ISO certifications reinforce the
commitment to outstanding manufacturing
practices that Komatsu has. If customers want to
see that in action, we encourage them to visit the
plant and take a tour. We’re always excited about
the opportunity to show customers how their
machines are built.
QUESTION: Do customers give you input on
machine features when they visit?
ANSWER: Certainly, and we pass that along
to our product marketing personnel who work
more closely with customers and distributors to
get feedback on development of new machines.
Our primary focus is on the manufacturing
process and what we can do to improve delivery
of a product. One area where we work closely
with customers is in quality and warranty claims.
If there’s an issue, we work to resolve it quickly.
QUESTION: We’ve discussed the past and present. What’s the future hold for NMO?
ANSWER: Interim Tier 4 regulations begin next
year on machines in the 175- to 750-horsepower
range, so we’ll start manufacturing the machines
in that category. As far as that affecting our
operations, it won’t have much of an impact.
We’ll still continue to produce loaders using the
same quality standards we always have.
The plant is 250,000 square feet of building
sitting on 80 acres of land, and was built with
future expansion in mind. I’m sure at some
point that will be a consideration.