Komatsu Queensland currently has three third-year female diesel fitter apprentices who are loving the experiences and opportunities they are gaining working for the company.
- • Amy Liddle based in Komatsu’s Bosso Street Workshop in Mackay.
- • Caitlyn Hayes, based in Komatsu’s Sherwood and Wacol sites in Brisbane.
- • Maddison Doyle, based in the Connors Road Machine Assembly Workshop, also in Mackay.
All three have come into Komatsu through different paths and family backgrounds, which we’re letting them tell in their own words.
Amy left high school after completing Grade 11 to pursue a career as a diesel fitter, something she says “was the best decision she ever made.”
Currently, she’s mainly working on machine full life rebuilds, building power modules, components, as well as some machine servicing work.
She got to know about Komatsu equipment from an early age.
“Growing up my father worked alongside Komatsu on site, so from a young age Komatsu was all I knew,” she says.
“I was my father’s little sidekick, so I was always in the shed building and fixing motorbikes, tractors you name it.
“I was lucky enough to get on site at a very young age and get to drive around in a 930E rigid dump truck and see the whole mine site – and from that day I knew that diesel fitting is what I wanted to do.
“During school, I got into a program that allowed me to complete my Cert II in engineering and do 16 weeks of work experience at Komatsu, and that just confirmed this is where I wanted to be.”
Amy says she’s found everyone at Komatsu to be highly supportive of her.
“Everyone is very willing to help you whenever you need, but if I had to name two people, it would have to be Scott Worthington and Will Boswell.
“They’ve both encouraged me to work my hardest and learn the most I can, they are always happy to answer any questions I have, and give me honest feedback on how I’m travelling – and I really appreciate it.”
While she’s primarily been in the workshop, Amy’s done a few stints out on customer sites with her fellow tradespeople, and has really enjoyed the experiences.
“They’re an eye-opener for what I’ve got to look forward to in my trade,” she said. “And I find that as long as I keep our customers happy and communicate with them on how jobs are going, then they are really easy to deal with.
“And I do enjoy that part of the job, speaking with customers.”
Her preferred equipment types to work on include D475A dozers and PC300 excavators and above.
“I find them really interesting to work on; there’s always so much you can learn about them. And they’re also fun to build.”
Longer term, Amy hopes to continue working in the mining industry, gain a deep understanding of machines and how they work; her ultimate aim is to one day become a workshop supervisor.
“I’ve found that Komatsu is a really supportive workplace; everyone is willing to help you with anything.
“I have made some great mates through my time here and I’m really looking forward to my future with Komatsu once I complete my apprenticeship,” she says.
Caitlyn began her apprenticeship at 19, after working casual jobs for a while when she finished high school. Initially she worked with an agricultural machinery manufacturer for two and a half years, but the worsening drought meant she needed to find a new employer to finish her trade.
“I’d originally applied through Cummins Diesel, and they passed on my details to Komatsu, who offered me the opportunity to continue my trade, changing from agricultural to mobile plant – which was easy to do due to their close nature,” she says.
Like Amy, Caitlyn has a family background in trucks and equipment.
“I decided I wanted to do this, after growing up around my parents’ workshop on the Sunshine Coast, helping my dad with maintenance on our eight trucks and other equipment,” she says.
“I spent a lot of time helping in the workshop when I wasn’t at school and found I enjoyed the challenge of it, finding out how things worked how they went together.
“I was always encouraged by my family (three of whom are mechanics) to do what I enjoyed and not be afraid to challenge gender roles in a male-dominated workplace,” she says. “They showed me that if I worked hard, persistence would pay off.”
When she originally applied for an apprenticeship, Caitlyn was given the opportunity to complete a week of work experience stripping down a V16 engine.
“That fully cemented my idea of ‘this is what I wanna do for work’,” she says.
“I absolutely loved it and then was lucky enough to be accepted into an apprenticeship out west.”
Due to moving from another company in recent months, Caitlyn’s not had a lot of time to meet many people at Komatsu, or work with customers as yet.
“So far in the short amount of time I’ve been with Komatsu, everyone’s been super helpful and friendly,” she says.
“The guys are always willing to help show you new stuff, teach you new tricks and are encouraging when it comes to new tasks.
“It’s a really nice friendly team environment, where everyone gets along pretty well with each other and helps each other out.”
And her preferred equipment type? “The bigger the better! I love the challenges of working on any of the larger Komatsu equipment, such as the two D475A-5EO machines I got to work on during my time in used equipment,” she says.
Once she finishes her trade, Caitlyn would like to work as a Komatsu field service technician or in the mining sector.
“I’d also like to complete a dual trade as an auto electrician to broaden my career opportunities and paths,” she says. “Then one day I think I’d like to become a trainer to pass my knowledge onto future generations of apprentices.
“So far my time at Komatsu has been a rewarding experience, where I’ve learnt a lot and have plenty of opportunities and room to further my career.”
While Maddison didn’t really have a mechanical background growing up, she worked a couple of years in an auto spares, parts and accessories retailer after leaving school in 2015, then in 2017 started working in a warehouse for a mining company.
It was these experiences that got her interested in a career working with equipment.
“When I was working at the automotive retailer, whenever a customer would come in for a particular part, I would always be asking people in my team what it did and how it worked,” she says.
“A few of the boys there had 4WDs and I would often go and work on them out of work time. I became so interested in working on 4WDs that I had to get my own!” she says.
“I felt such a sense of accomplishment working on them that I decided I’d like to go bigger.
“Then my dad bought a franchise in Mudgee, west of Sydney, that specialises in building and fitting hoses, so I took a few weeks off work to go down there to get some experience.
“I got to manufacture hoses and go out to customer sites to fit them to the machine. That’s when I decided that I wanted to work on machines as a diesel fitter, and started to apply for apprenticeships.”
Maddison finds the team she works with in Mackay to be very supportive.
“There’s always someone I can rely on to answer any questions I have. And Komatsu’s a great company to work for; they have great training programs that are really beneficial to my trade,” she says.
“And our on-the-floor apprentice mentor, Scott Worthington is great at providing feedback; he’s easy to talk to and always encourages you to do your best.”
Depending on workshop requirements, Maddison divides her time between Komatsu’s Connors Road and Bosso Street facilities in Mackay, as well as going out to local quarries and sites with field service technicians to gain further experience.
“I really enjoy working with customers. I find you just have to show confidence that you know what you’re talking about,” she says.
“And there’s definitely a sense of achievement when you go to tell them that their machine is fixed and ready to go back to work.”
Being based at Mackay, Maddison has primarily been working on 830E and 930E mining trucks, which she’s grown to love working on.
“All service parts are easily accessible, and I thoroughly enjoy working on the components as well, such as cylinders, front corners and wheel motors.
“Stripping down components and seeing how they work would definitely be my favourite part of the job,” she says.
When she’s completed her apprenticeship, Maddison says she’d love to go out to the mines to gain great exposure to all the other equipment types.
“And longer term, I would love to see myself as a supervisor of some type, either in town, or out on the mines on a roster,” she says.
“I’m very grateful that I got this opportunity to be an apprentice with Komatsu; their program has really benefited me to become a good tradesperson.
“I also love the versatility that working for Komatsu provides, as there are so many different roles that I can experience within the company,” Maddison says.