ALL ABOUT QUALITY
General Manager Walt Nichols says Komatsu’s CMO builds products to stringent standards
QUESTION: What products are produced at the Chattanooga Manufacturing Operation (CMO)?
ANSWER: From a construction standpoint, our focus is standard hydraulic excavators from the 21-ton PC210LC-11 to the 49-ton PC490LC-11, as well as intelligent Machine Control PC360LCi-11 and PC490LCi-11 models. We mainly supply the North American market. In addition, CMO produces forestry excavators, tracked harvesters and tracked feller bunchers. This is the only Komatsu plant in the world that builds those forestry-tracked machines. Nearly everything we manufacture is Tier 4 Final. CMO is the only plant in North America that cleans diesel particulate filters from Tier 4 Final machines.
QUESTION: Why is it a good choice to buy a machine built at CMO?
ANSWER: It’s all about quality. Komatsu has stringent standards, from the fabrication and welding of frames to genuine Komatsu parts and components. Outside vendors who supply certain items have to meet Komatsu’s engineering standards, or we don’t use them.
Our team of more than 400 people takes great pride in assembling what we all believe are the best machines in the construction and forestry industries. Many staff members have been here 20 years or more. Each is dedicated to ensuring that every piece of equipment is built correctly, tested and ready to move dirt or timber productively and efficiently.
QUESTION: How do you determine how many machines to build?
ANSWER: There are several factors that come into play. Markets are one of them. We also work closely with distributors and customers to ensure we are meeting their needs. There are other Komatsu factories around the world that build the same machines, and we coordinate with them. For instance, if they can’t meet their current demand for some reason, CMO may ramp up to help and vice versa. As an example, when a tsunami hit Japan a few years ago, it devastated many areas of the country. Our Japanese excavator plant was occupied building machines to assist with the cleanup. That caused a spike in our production because, for a time, we had to build all the machines to supply North America.
QUESTION: Do you manufacture custom-order machines?
ANSWER: From a planning standpoint we keep ourselves flexible enough to be able to accommodate those requests. Our commitment on an order is eight days from when it’s submitted to the time we have it on a truck ready to ship. In most instances, we beat that. Some super-specialty items might take a little longer.
QUESTION: Speaking of customers, do you encourage them to visit CMO?
ANSWER: Absolutely, and the public as well! We have a lot of visitors come through every year. We want them to see how Komatsu machines are manufactured and the quality that’s built in.