Komatsu releases new maintenance programs, adapts to changing attitudes about machine ownership

QUESTION: What is the main role of the Parts Sales & Marketing department at Komatsu?

ANSWER: The role of our group is to focus on customers’ parts support needs in order to maximize efficiency in their operations. By doing so, we demonstrate the quality of our parts, strengthen our customer relationships and drive loyalty for Komatsu machines, parts and service.

QUESTION: How has the market changed in regard to owning heavy equipment during the past few years?

ANSWER: It’s become clear that equipment owners are looking for even more ways to maximize their investments in the machines they own. Customers are cautious with the money they spend to ensure it is used as efficiently as possible. They want to allocate their maintenance dollars where it makes the most sense. Komatsu builds technologically advanced, high-quality products that require the use of high-performance filters and engineered oils to maintain peak performance and component longevity. When customers buy revenue-generating, capital assets they expect a maintenance program that ensures only parts and fluids made for their specific Komatsu machines are used when serviced. This is why we developed Genuine Care. We’re so confident in the benefits of our Genuine products that we stand behind each Genuine Care program with a 12,000-hour component life assurance and 100 percent core guarantee.

QUESTION: What should customers know about the new Genuine Care program and how do they benefit from it?

ANSWER: Our new Genuine Care program is an extension of our complimentary Komatsu CARE program for Tier 4 machines. Customers can purchase a Genuine Care program from their Komatsu dealers to pick up where the complimentary maintenance leaves off. As long as that Genuine Care program remains in place, we reward the Komatsu machine owner with the component assurance and core guarantee; both of which are fully transferrable when it’s time to trade in or sell the machine. Our Komatsu distributors use KOMTRAX to monitor the machine and proactively schedule and perform maintenance at times that work best for the Komatsu machine owner. Factory-trained technicians perform the work, and all services include oil analysis of each component and a full machine inspection. This complete service history also ensures that the machine qualifies as Komatsu CARE Certified Equipment, our highest level of previously owned equipment and a serious driver of higher residual values when an owner decides to trade in or sell the machine.

QUESTION: What has Komatsu done to accommodate customers’ changing attitudes about ownership?

ANSWER: We began planning programs that we believed could be of value to our customers and this new trend. Our new Firm Future Order program is a direct result of that. This long-term planning program is designed for the distributor to sit down with a customer and look at what machines the customer is running, the applications those machines are performing in, how hard the machines are working and what the machines will be doing in the future. Then, we schedule large maintenance projects three, six or 12 months in advance, based on the information gathered. We let the customers lock in pricing and guarantee availability of parts. We also schedule the work at times that are convenient for the owners. This enables the owners to build those repair costs into their budgets.

The purpose of this program is to eliminate unexpected downtime through preventive maintenance. We want to help customers plan ahead and involve them in a proactive discussion. Having a plan in place is better than reacting to a surprise failure, and the plan can always be modified. For example, if a machine is scheduled for a transmission replacement, but it is outperforming our estimates, the customer can move the maintenance date but keep the guarantees. We will be ready and anticipate the service on the revised date.

QUESTION: How have customers received these programs?

ANSWER: Our distributors see a huge benefit in creating more face-to-face meetings with their customers, and the customers appreciate that we are looking out for them and handling the machine monitoring and the maintenance scheduling.

We’ve noticed that these programs have strengthened the bond between customers and their distributors and created a deeper sense of brand loyalty to Komatsu. The programs make our technicians more visible to customers because they are servicing the machines consistently and meeting with the customers. Customers can see that we are working to minimize downtime. The programs were put into place to help customers have a better experience with the Komatsu brand.

QUESTION: Were these programs the only changes made to accommodate customers?

ANSWER: No, continuous improvement is a core competency of Komatsu and led us to reorganize our field support staff. By increasing the number of staff members and reducing the size of their territories, we are able to spend more time with our distributors and in front of their customers. We’ve seen a great benefit to building, maintaining and strengthening those relationships at a jobsite level where the work is really being done. It truly helps us bring products and programs to the market to meet the ever-changing needs of our Komatsu machine owners.