Japanese equipment manufacturer Komatsu has a long and proud history in Australia and has played a pivotal role in the country’s biggest engineering and construction projects.
EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS FROM THE VERY BEGINNING
Last year, Komatsu Australia celebrated fifty years in Australia. Starting from the position of a small dozer supplier in the 1960s, Komatsu first came to the attention of the Australian earthmoving community as they looked across the Pacific to see how the USA was managing their massive post-war road building program. As Australia also embarked on major infrastructure projects, they followed the Americans’ lead using some new Japanese equipment, which up until then had been known for its low cost rather than its quality.
From the first Australian order in 1965, it took just seven years for more than 500 Komatsu dozers and crawler loaders to make their mark on construction sites across the country, where their reputation for reliability and quality exceeded expectations and set a new benchmark, which led to the company rapidly expanding its range.
EXPANDING THE RANGE TO MEET DEMAND IN THE 1970S AND 1980S
Throughout the 1970s and 80s, Komatsu added dump trucks, scrapers, excavators and graders to its existing range of dozers, wheel loaders and crawler loaders. It was also during the 1970s that Komatsu decided to commit to what it saw as the future of earthmoving: hydraulic excavators. Although hydraulic excavators had been on the scene since the early 1960s, it wasn’t until the fuel crisis of the 70s that their true potential was realised. When combined with dump trucks and tippers, the new hydraulic excavators could cheaply and effectively move huge amounts of material in a much wider variety of terrain and environments than scrapers could handle.
During the 1970s and 80s, the Komatsu brand became synonymous with hydraulic excavators, largely due to its bestselling Komatsu-Bucyrus KB15-H, released in 1972. Following the break-up of the Komatsu and Bucyrus co-operative agreement in 1981, Komatsu decided to go it alone and for the first time ever produced a fully Japanese designed and manufactured excavator. Confident that they had created the best excavator on the market, Komatsu’s goal for the 1990s was to become the world’s number one supplier of excavators.