Shire of Trayning, located around 250 km east of Perth in Western Australia's wheatbelt, was the first shire in the state to purchase Komatsu's latest grader series, the Dash 5 Vantage, when it took delivery of a GD555-5 in November last year.
Since then, the shire has received high levels of customer support and service from Komatsu Australia and the GD555-5 operator speaks very highly of his machine, particularly its direct drive system.
The Shire of Trayning covers an area of 1632 sq km, consisting of agricultural land, nature reserves and national parks in the north eastern wheatbelt region of WA.
Trayning lies 235 kilometres east of Perth on the Goomalling/Merredin Road. It has a population of approximately 430 people, primarily farming communities devoted to wheat, coarse grains and various livestock.
Among the shire's duties are maintaining and upgrading when necessary some 600 km of gravel roads which is the primary function of the Komatsu grader, said Eric Eeles, works manager with the Shire of Trayning.
When deciding on which grader to purchase, the shire looked at around five different makes,
"Certainly the Komatsu was up there in terms of features and design, plus the price for it was
With Trayning being one of the first shires in WA to purchase a Komatsu Vantage grader other shires in the state have since followed suit it has made a number of suggestions on how the grader can be improved to better suit local conditions.
"Komatsu has been very helpful with us with looking at different designs or different alternations that could be made to the machine," said Eric.
"For example, one was the new design of the cab, which has the angled doors on the front, including rear vision mirrors which stick out a bit.
"One issue for us is that the area we are in is among the most arid in the southern hemisphere.
It's a wheat belt area, so trees are a premium around here and most of the tree belts are growing along the edge of the road. We've only got a chain-wide road reserve and we try to keep the trees on it, so we've got lots of branches hanging out.
"Consequently, they take out rear vision mirrors and windscreens," he said.
"We mentioned that to Komatsu, so they went back to the drawing board and redesigned the rear vision mirror with a hinge in the middle of it so if it happens to get brushed by a tree branch or something like that, it will actually fold back out of the way without being torn off.
"They are listening to a lot of the things that we are saying about that machine.
"Most local governments in Western Australia, out in the wheat belt area and other areas, are really looking for the same thing.
"We were really the first shire to pick one of these graders up and Komatsu is certainly giving us every amount of assistance we could ask for," said Eric.
He also described Komatsu's after-sales service as "really very good".
"We've had no problems with Komatsu's support for us, because we are on a service regime where they do all of the servicing.
"When it comes due, I ring up Komatsu and let them know, and they just send a service person up and we make sure that the machine is in the shed in here, so they can work in comfort."
Eric has been very impressed with the KOMTRAX reports he gets for each machine.
"They send me a report each month, and it gives you all the information you need about the machine: how many days it's been working, hours it's working, what's actually being done, how long it idles.
"Our local rep, Andy Mullins, was even able to tell when we'd been doing some heavy construction work from the KOMTRAX reports because the fuel consumption levels went right up," said Eric.
"We'd just rebuilt a 6 km section of a gravel road and we'd cleared it all, ripped up all the water table, putting in table drains and rebuilding the road surface."Andy had noticed that our fuel consumption had gone up considerably and we were able to show them why.
"It's certainly a great system," said Eric.
Trayning Shire's operator Peter Boulton said he had no problems switching to the Komatsu Vantage grader after driving another make for a number of years.
"Some of the levers are a bit different, but within 30 seconds of being in the cab, you pick it up very quickly.
"And I find the direct drive transmission system great, absolutely brilliant you just can't stall it," said Peter.
"You can go up a gear, you can get from one end of the job back to the start of the job quickly, then you can drop it into fourth and it just does its run through, just picks up and away it goes.
"For example, when you are pushing gravel, if you are pushing in third or fourth, when it hits a mountain, it just drops back down and just keeps chewing through it," he said.