Turning challenges into business opportunities

Positive changes to business due to COVID-19


Agile supply chains and e-commerce are driving improvements in Japanese machinery multi-national Komatsu


A resilient business will take challenges and turn them into opportunities, such is the case with machinery manufacturer Komatsu over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While disruption to business-as-usual was inevitable, the Japanese multinational believes the greater emphasis its customers are placing on agile supply chains and e-commerce ordering will become permanent outcomes, ones which will enable it to thrive into the future.

Komatsu Australia executive general manager of people and strategy Colin Shaw said the company had shifted away from support centres for its machinery customers during the crisis, instead gearing up its sophisticated machine monitoring and the flexible deployment of key staff to areas of immediate need.

Mr Shaw said building in fail-safes would become a permanent part of the company's planning.

"We are already planning for life after COVID-19 and it will contain efficiencies which we have developed as a response to the pandemic," he said.

Komatsu general manager construction solutions said automated parts ordering through the company's online portal had nearly doubled over the last few months.

Only launched a year ago, Mr Shaw said the online system had proved robust, despite its fast-tracked roll out schedule.

Combined with Komtrax, the company's on-board telematic monitoring service, he said the technology had substantially altered the company's process for the supply of parts, particularly when coupled with predictive modelling techniques.

Mr Shaw said during the pandemic more two thirds of Komatsu's Australian and New Zealand 3400 strong workforce had continued to provide service and manufacturing functions from factory and in the field, while office staff in the main have worked from home.

"People have been at the heart of our COVID-19 strategy," he said.

Mr Shaw said the workplace safety had been managed and adapted through policy, wit the company talking to major clients about the best way to keep interactions safe.

"Meticulous process detail goes right to the heart of good customer relations," Mr. Shaw said.

"Once a machine has been serviced and cleaned, a tag indicates its condition, which gives customer's confidence that every consideration has been taken to ensure the health of their employees.

"A flying squad 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.

"Paramount was the ability of our people to make that commitment without putting their family or personal requirements at risk."

Mr Shaw said the company had also implemented a supply-chain task force, with access to global factories to visualise and plan responses to the fast-moving consequences of the pandemic.

"At any moment, we have more than a dozen potential scenarios in planning to ensure that our response time is minimised, and that we are not totally reactionary," he said.

"We are learning a lot and already our findings are being translated into new training programs that will pass through our network."


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