A series of Komatsu excavators that have been stolen have fortunately for their owners been swiftly recovered, thanks to Komatsu’s KOMTRAX remote monitoring system.
The system uses GPS technology to locate KOMTRAX, offered as a complimentary service by Komatsu to its customers.
Not only can the system pin-point the location of the machines, it also provides remote monitoring via PC and mobile devices on machine heath and performance.
Recently a 1.8 tonne Komatsu PC18MR-3 mini excavator was stolen from Western Australian civil earthworks business, A2 Civils.
Director Anthony Conner said he was alerted at 6am that the machine was missing and that by midday the police had a warrant and had loaded the machine onto a transporter, destined for an impound for forensic investigation.
“When I was alerted to the machine being stolen I knew immediately what to do. Komatsu has been very helpful in educating us to the benefits of the remote monitoring system,” said Mr Conner.
He said it was distressing for the machine to be missing but took instant comfort in the KOMTRAX remote monitoring system being installed.
“If we didn’t have the tracking system we would not have got the machine back. A lot of stolen machines just get stripped and sent away without identification,” he said.
“All of our machines are listed on KOMTRAX by name so they’re very easy to keep track of. We can see exactly what they’re doing. You can log in to review the machine’s performance.”
Victorian excavating business Mellerick Drainage was also fortunate to have recovered a stolen PC55MR machine, twice. Owner Justin Mellerick said the first time it was stolen he encountered a man trying to load the machine onto a truck and confronted him. “He went straight to remand so he must have had priors, that bloke,” Mr Mellerick said.
Mr Mellerick said on the second occasion the machine was stolen they contacted KOMTRAX systems co-ordinator, Mary-Jo O’Donovan who launched into action. “She was brilliant. She logged in to KOMTRAX and tracked it to an address. She remotely disabled the engine so it couldn’t be operated and then monitored it overnight.
“The thieves thought they were in the clear until the Police arrived.
“Even when I had picked it up she rang me and said ‘Your machine is moving. Is it you?’ She really cared about our situation.”
Many other machines were recovered for Komatsu customers in 2017.
Research and analysis performed over 10 years by the Comprehensive Auto-theft Research System (CARS) and the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council (NMVTRC) found that heavy vehicle thefts increased by 23 per cent, a rise driven by a jarring 45 per cent surge in stolen plant and equipment.
NMVTRC executive director Ray Carroll believes the continued growth of thefts is attributable to plant equipment’s high visibility, increased profitability and ease of rebirth and resale.
“The vast majority of equipment isn’t registered for the road, so there is no permanent record of ownership.
“There is no universal VIN system like on a car, and being able to identify stolen machinery is a real problem,” Mr Carroll said.
Komatsu machines equipped with KOMTRAX remote monitoring system had a recovery rate of 72 per cent, well above the current 38 per cent average.