Dan Funcannon says mining truck design and quality manufacturing ensure durability and dependability

QUESTION: As head of the Mining Division you oversee operations at the Peoria Manufacturing Operation (PMO). What products does that facility produce?

ANSWER: PMO produces one mechanical truck, the HD1500, for the North American market. We are also responsible for six electric-drive models globally, ranging from the 200-ton-capacity 730E-8 to the recently introduced 980E-4. At 400-ton-capacity, the latter is now our largest truck ever.

In some cases, we manufacture more than one version of a product. For example, our 830E and 930E trucks have both standard and autonomous (driverless) models, and our 860E and 960E products have trolley versions, which operate using overhead electrical lines.

In Komatsu terminology, PMO is a mother plant, which means it also houses the Research and Development Group for the products manufactured there. That group is responsible for developing Komatsu’s electric dump trucks.

QUESTION: Why should a mine consider using Komatsu trucks?

ANSWER: Bottom line, we make high-quality and reliable trucks that are built to last and meet customers’ total cost of ownership goals. We have numerous examples of trucks running 60,000, 75,000, 100,000 hours and beyond with outstanding availability. In fact, when customers talk to us about purchasing new units, we are frequently asked to guarantee that their availability will be at or above 90 percent throughout the life of the trucks. We’re confident in providing that guarantee because of our robust designs, quality manufacturing process and world-class support through our distributor network.

QUESTION: Where does each product fit?

ANSWER: That’s dependent on customer need. Many of our Ultra-Class products, which are 300-ton-capacity or larger, are put to work in copper or coal mines. Smaller-sized trucks are heavily used in iron, but some of those mines may go to a larger size, depending on several factors.

QUESTION: How does Komatsu help determine what trucks a mine needs?

ANSWER: We have an Applications Engineering Group that works closely with customers to evaluate their mines and production requirements, and then makes recommendations. The group looks at loading areas and equipment, haul roads, distance to a crusher or stockpile, material and a whole host of other determining factors.

We go beyond simply recommending machinery. We also have a Mining Optimization Group that helps identify ways to maximize production and do it more efficiently and cost effectively. The ultimate goal is to help our mining customers keep their per-ton costs as low as possible.

QUESTION: The mining industry has experienced a downward trend in the past few years. What do present and future conditions look like?

ANSWER: There are some signs that the markets have bottomed out, and hopefully that is the case. Commodity prices have risen a little. I think there is cautious optimism that things might pick up in 2017 and that there will be incremental improvement.