Huon Valley Council - Tasmania
Pro-active use of regular Kowa (Komatsu oil Wear Analysis), combined with Komatsu's KOMTRAX remote monitoring system, is allowing Tasmania's Huon Valley Council to extend maintenance intervals on its Komatsu machines and cut its ownership costs.
The council, located in southern Tasmania it is in fact the southernmost local government area in Australia services a population of around 15,000; its responsibilities include maintaining about 700km of road, of which only 180 km is sealed, while the rest are gravel roads.
And not surprisingly, it is a very high rainfall area.
In late 2012 and early 2013, it took delivery of two new Komatsu GD655-5 graders Huon Valley's "third generation" of Komatsu graders, replacing two GD655-3s, which themselves had replaced two GD650-3s some years earlier. It also owns a PC88MR-8 which it bought in December 2013, and a WA200-5 which it has owned for 9 years.
According to Malcolm Russell, the council's manager of works, it has been able to significantly extend its service intervals particularly on the two graders from the standard 250 hours to 500 hour intervals, through careful Kowa oil analysis and continuous KOMTRAX monitoring.
"We've been able to bump our service levels out as per the recommendations from Komatsu based on our oil sampling and if anything pops up with subsequent samples or on KOMTRAX, Komatsu will let us know and we will have a look at it straight away," he said.
"That saves us money not only in downtime, but also the cost of servicing and downtime in particular costs money.
"Over the life of our machines, that will all add up quite significantly," said Malcolm.
It was Komatsu's backup service and support, along with machine reliability that was behind Huon Valley Council's decision to purchase its third generation of Komatsu graders.
"The overall reliability, the backup service, the operator comfort and feedback, has all been excellent," he said.
"And since we've had these machines, they have had minimum downtime."
In the case of its PC88MR-8 excavator, Huon Valley Council was looking to replace an existing machine with an alternative make.
"We had a few issues with our previous machine, particularly in regard to smoothness of operation; it was a bit jerky in the hydraulics, so it wasn't a good finishing machine," said Malcolm.
"We looked at a few machines, and opted for the Komatsu because it came fully fitted with check valves and other things, which were extras with other brands.
"This was important to us, because we work with what we call a 'man workbox', which is something we developed to fit on an excavator and in fact won an award for," he said.
"It's been approved through Workplace Standards, but part of operating it is that you've got to have check valves on the excavator, so if you have an oil leak, it just seals off straight away and that comes
as standard on a Komatsu excavator.
"Also, the plumbing for the thumb, which we got fitted on the Komatsu, was standard, as was the plumbing for the tilt hitch and the rock breaker so it all came fully fitted and ready to go," said Malcolm.
"We use this machine for a wide range of tasks; we build all our own bridge abutments, so it could be excavating out a bridge abutment, we put all our own stormwater line in, we do a lot of our own road widening, footpaths, right across the activity of roadworks, as well as general infrastructure works."
In addition to these newer machines, the council also operates a WA200-5 wheel loader, which is now close to 10 years old.
Originally purchased for face loading, it's now used for loading materials coming out of the contractors own mobile crusher.
"We've had that machine for a fair while now, and it's given us an excellent run."
Malcolm said a key element of the Komatsu relationship was its regular contact with the council.
"We find Komatsu keeps in contact with council by calling into our depot at least once a month and having a talk to our mechanic, to check that everything is running OK and that there are no issues.
"The parts and service back up over the years has always been excellent plus we also purchase spare parts from Komatsu for our other plant because they are competitive on price, and supply is overnight.
"Overall, Council has had a good working relation with Komatsu over many years, which has resulted in minimum downtime for the plant, and which improves productivity," said Malcolm.