The resurgence of Tasmania's forest industry has led to extensive investement in plant and machinery by private operators - and Komatsu has been on hand to lend support.
Greg Rawlings of GJ & LM Rawlings Bulldozing, a near 40-year veteran of the industry in the state's north-west has increased the size and strength of his exclusively Komatsu fleet in response to new business opportunities arising from this industry comeback.
Greg and others in the industry like him are being increasingly encouraged to ramp-up productivity as demand for Tasmanian plantation timber products expands.
"We are more and more relying on our machinery providers to give us an edge in being able to meet the
demands," Greg said.
"Times have changed immensely in the way we go about our work and the machines we work on.
"When I bought my first new machine a Komatsu D65-8 dozer back in 1985 it was a heap better than
the equipment I'd been using, but it was still relatively crude compared with what I have from Komatsu, today.
"Cabin ergonomics are just one example. These days, in pretty extreme conditions, my blokes are able to work 10-hour days, five days a week and some of them are backing up to do an extra eight to 10 hours on the
"You couldn't do that on the old open-canopy machines, but today with closed cabs and climate control the work
environment has improved immensely," he said GJ Rawlings operates in the specialised area of forest clearing, preparing plantations for re-planting. It uses three Komatsu PC200-8 excavators to rake and slash in windrows and three D65 bulldozers one with specialised attachments to ridge-plough mounds as well as build and maintain tracks.
Speed and accuracy are both essential as the company's equipment prepares plantations to accept up
to 1100 stems (new trees) per hectare. Extreme weather conditions including heavy rainfall, sometimes high on the side of Tasmania's well known Surry Hills Plantation, have caused Greg to specify attachments and modifications purpose-built for the job.
His excavators are fitted with heavy belly guards and rock guards around the track rollers.
His dozers use variable pitch rippers, and one is fitted with a blade, minus push arms, to enable precise
manoeuvrability in tight areas.
"The good thing is that Komatsu is anticipating many of our needs and making our job easier," he said.
"There was a time when we had to fit our own ROPS (roll over protection system) canopies. Now the cabs
are fitted as standard with ROPS and FOPS (falling object protection)."
ROPS and FOPs are close to Greg's heart. "I've been in a roll-over (on a dozer) and it wasn't fun.
Once I got out it was OK, but it all happened in slow motion and I wouldn't want to do it again."
Greg increasingly relies on his local Komatsu operation to maintain and report on his fleet.
"Right now, we're transitioning from old arrangements we had with external suppliers of lubricants to
encompass Komatsu genuine products," he said.
"It's better to be able to have one service contract with the primary supplier and to rely on them to maintain our
"We have an arrangement in which Komatsu fits in with our work schedules to ensure they provide service
to minimise impact on productive downtime. They'll service the machines on the weekend if that's what it
Komatsu's KOMTRAX remote monitoring service is also proving a benefit. "I've had some of my blokes with me for 15 to more than 20 years so it's not like we don't know or trust each other," Greg said.
"But it's handy to get a monthly KOMTRAX report or be able to look it up at any time on my iPad to know what today's fuel consumption is, what idle time we've had, when the machine has started and finished even
when it's due for its service.
"I don't like to use it as a surveillance tool it's just something that helps us all understand when something pops up that's not quite normal.
"I think KOMTRAX would be essential for a big company with machines all over the country. "For me, we largely know what we're doing, but it's still a help."