The Shire of Roebourne have taken delivery of three new items of Komatsu equipment.
The Shire of Roebourne, based around the mining port of Karratha in the remote Pilbara region of north Western Australia, is finding significant cost-saving, performance and reliability benefits from the complete Komatsu "package" it receives not only for its equipment but also the associated service and support.
Located around 200 km from the nearest Komatsu branch at Port Hedland, the shire is subject to extremes of heat, dust, humidity and tropical rain, so it requires equipment that is reliable and durable, as well as being able to handle the tough conditions.
It has recently taken delivery of three new items of Komatsu equipment, a WA250PZ-6 loader, a GD655-5 grader and a D85EX-15E0 dozer following their experience with a PC200LC-8 excavator purchased in 2010 and its first GD655-5 grader delivered in 2011.
The excavator, loader and dozer are primarily used in its waste management operations, while the two graders are used in road construction and maintenance applications throughout the shire.
George Popa, Plant Co-ordinator with the Shire of Roebourne, is enthusiastic about the quality of the shire's Komatsu machines, their cost-effectiveness, and the service and support backing them up.
George said the relationship began some years ago, when Dean Jones, Komatsu Australia's Business Development Manager in WA contacted him about the shire's need for new 20 tonne excavator.
"We found Dean extremely easy and pleasant to deal with. The information we wanted, we got without any fuss or pressure.
"As for the machine, when we looked at its specs, what it was and what we got, it was real dollar-value-for-money.
"So we opted for the PC200LC-8, and our people here were amazed with how quiet, efficient and smooth it was," said George.
Then in 2011, Dean invited George and his leading hand Shane Edwards to a grader/dozer field demonstration day in Perth.
"Shane has been in the field for 20 or 30 years, and he'd always driven another make of grader.
"He just couldn't believe how good it was, how smooth and quiet it was," said George.
"Things like the visibility of the blades from the cabin, the total visibility of the machine and what you can do with, he was pretty excited about it.
"The whole package just blew him away, and we know that if the operators are happy, we are going to go pretty well with a machine.
"For us, that was a big decision to switch to Komatsu, but it was one we have been very happy with.
"The operator who was assigned to the machine, we couldn't get him out of it.
"It did everything he wanted it to do, it was quiet, it was easy on the operator, it performed great; everybody was thoroughly excited about it up here.
"So when the time came to replace the other grader, straight away it was 'let's talk to Komatsu'. And when we looked at pricing and value for money, the Komatsu was just right out in front.
"The only problem we now have is that the operators fight to operate it. You know, they genuinely love the machine."
Reliability of the two Komatsu graders has also been a high point for George.
"The biggest problem we have had with them is flat tyres and a spare wheel winch that played up one time, but that's been it.
"Up here in the Pilbara, it gets pretty harsh, you know, with 40 degree-plus temperatures, sometimes 45 out the back or even higher but the machines still operate; they don't mind the heat, off they go," he said.
"And while we don't want to give out litres of fuel used, the guys find they are not refuelling them as much as the other machines we used to have."
The shire's experiences to date with the new WA250PZ-6 loader and D85EX-15E0 dozer at its waste depot have been equally positive.
"With the loader, it's giving us real value for money; we didn't realise just how good it is until we got the machine," said George.
"The guys love driving it, especially because it's so quiet, and even standing alongside of it, it is bloody quiet.
"And the dozer cops a fair hiding; it works pretty hard.
"Initially we had a couple of minor hiccups with some of the options we fitted to it, but apart from that, it's going great.
"Again, it's so quiet; having a machine that you have working, and you can stand alongside and have a conversation that's just incredible."
George has also been very impressed with the dealings he's had with Komatsu at all levels.
"Obviously on the sales side, they are right up there: otherwise we wouldn't be buying them.
"And in terms of the service side well, we haven't had a bad Komatsu mechanic come on site.
"But, actually, the guys that come out in the field are fantastic. I take my hat off to all of them.
"The guys who come out here have to work in high temperatures, and the humidity can be through the roof, and they still plod along and work away.
"We get on with them very well. They've all been great, they talk to us, do what we want them to do."
This service culture has also extend to helping the shire sort out machine issues.
"With the PC200LC-8, when we first got it, we had some hiccups, and it turned out not to be the machine but some operator issues.
"We got Komatsu's trainer back up here; he's an extremely patient person, he retrained to the guys, so that now everything is great, and the machine doesn't have any so-called breakdowns anymore which weren't breakdowns anyway."
As Plant Co-ordinator, George has been delighted that the shire's Komatsu equipment is not having any unscheduled breakdowns.
"We are not getting anything breaking down and conking out on the side of the road, for example.
"The machines are just running; like I said, with the first grader, the major problem that we had was flat tyres, which was nothing. You expect that up here," he said.
"They've been fantastic, reliability wise. There have been no transmission, driveline, engine, hydraulics failures nothing like that.
"We are not getting hydraulic valves jamming, blowing, or breaking, or whatever.
"In fact, the operators rave about the hydraulics and about how smooth they are.
"We are extremely happy with our Komatsu machines," said George.
"While the initial purchase price, is what council loves to see, then if we can save money on maintenance, things like that beauty!
"We need equipment that's designed and built to suit our conditions because, to get any major work repaired up here in the Pilbara, it's bloody expensive.
"So, if we can just do routine maintenance, well, we are laughing," he said.