Komatsu is a major supplier of below and above ground heavy machinery and during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic it has seen a greater emphasis on agile supply chain methods, a ramping up of E-commerce ordering, greater reliance on sophisticated machine monitoring allied to customer support centres, and the flexible deployment of key staff to areas of immediate need.
As a result, the company says it is already planning for life after COVID-19 and will incorporate efficiencies it has developed as a response to the pandemic.
The post-pandemic plan will address not only the needs of large mining and construction companies, but also those of smaller plant operators who may need assistance to readjust their businesses.
Some new processes which had been introduced only recently have been tested and refined by the urgency of the pandemic response, well in advance of normal roll-out procedures.
According to Todd Connolly, Komatsu’s General Manager of construction solutions, use of the my.komatsu.com.au, automated parts ordering portal had nearly doubled during the COVID-19 response. The contactless purchasing process had been well received by new and existing customers alike, Connolly said.
Use of the company’s KCSC (Komatsu Customer Support Centre), a two-way communication, had increased significantly as customers and Komatsu sought alternatives to face-to-face contact.
The KCSC is supported by Komatsu’s extensive use of Information Communication Technologies (ICT) including the KOMTRAX on-board monitoring service with real time assessment of machinery performance.
Both initiatives had been supported by substantial change to the company’s parts supply chain process, optimising the relationship between regional branches and centralised distribution centres by the use of predictive modelling techniques.
When New Zealand lock down laws were enacted, Komatsu Australia had rapidly moved to provide parts to its entire New Zealand network from its Wacol, Brisbane hub.
Freight forwarding had occurred with almost no disruption as a result of careful monitoring of transport solutions.
Komatsu’s technicians have also been COVID-19 trained and certified. Paramedics had been employed at key manufacturing sites and split shift protocols had been introduced ranging from separated workplaces and crib rooms through to designated machinery disinfection time between major operations.
Customer communication had identified potential areas of vulnerability in their operations and Komatsu had worked directly with its staff to find solutions.
A group of technical experts was moved from Western Australia to Queensland in recognition that members might be isolated for some time and that on-ground local support is far more efficient in current times.