Ensuring your Uptime
Abe Riddle says the aim of Komatsu’s Ripley Parts Operation is timely delivery from its vast inventory
QUESTION: What is the role of Komatsu’s Ripley Parts Operation in Tennessee?
ANSWER: It is the central parts warehouse for North America and Latin America, with an emphasis on parts for Komatsu construction, forestry, forklift and industrial press products. We also carry parts for what we call “mining support,” which is inventory related to non-electric-drive trucks.
Everything – O-rings, engines, transmissions and some boom-assembly parts – comes through here and is shipped to our distributors or one of our eight regional parts distribution hubs located in the United States and Canada. We serve Komatsu affiliates globally, too, but our primary customer base is in North American and Latin American countries.
Our most important role is ensuring those parts arrive in a timely manner. The Parts Operation Department runs two shifts per day, but we’re really a 24/7/365 operation. We have a hotline number (731-635-6120) and staff on-call, so even if customers call during holidays or off hours, we can still process their orders and get them shipped. It’s our goal to have most parts orders in customers’ hands the same day or the next day.
QUESTION: Why is that important?
ANSWER: When machines are down, customers are losing money. We understand that, so our response is critical. The faster they get the parts, the faster they can be back up and running. Many customers tell me that service after the sale is a huge factor in what brand of equipment they choose, so we obviously place a heavy emphasis on timely parts support.
QUESTION: Why is Ripley, Tennessee, a good location?
ANSWER: We are strategically located close to a major freight hub in Memphis. That allows us to take orders late in the day and still be able to get parts where they need to be early the next day, in most cases. For example, if someone in Washington state places an order at 6 p.m., they will have it around 10 a.m., depending on what they ordered.
QUESTION: How likely is it that you will have the parts on hand that customers need?
ANSWER: Highly likely as we carry about $560 million in inventory. Our target is 95-percent availability, meaning that when an order is placed, we have what’s needed on the shelf and ready to go. Currently we are at 96.4 percent.
QUESTION: How do you know what inventory to have on hand?
ANSWER: There are several factors we take into account. We consider historical demand, and we collaborate with distributors to understand their operations and machine populations. We also use KOMTRAX to monitor data that helps us anticipate future parts needs. In addition, our manufacturing plants give us recommended lists of parts for new machines. All of that information helps us get a strong hold on what we need to build inventory and keep parts stocked at appropriate levels.
QUESTION: What about older machines?
ANSWER: We maintain a good deal of inventory for machines dating back a decade or more, so we likely have the needed parts on hand. If we don’t, we can source parts from trusted suppliers. We will do everything we can to make sure customers get what they need.