Can you provide an overview of Komatsu's presence in Nevada?
In Nevada, Komatsu is present both in mining and construction, with the mining industry representing a major portion of our business. We have numerous electric drive haul trucks and electric shovels at the larger Nevada mines along with various mining size machines such as the mechanical drive haul trucks, HEX shovels, wheel loaders and dozers. Komatsu also has various construction size machines at several of our Nevada mining customer sites including with mining contractors and smaller construction type companies.
In February 2020, Komatsu opened its largest service center of North America in Elko. Could you give us some details about this new facility?
The Elko service center is one of the first combined operations between the Komatsu and the Joy Global entities under Komatsu. We decided to establish this facility in Nevada considering the state’s rich mineral endowment. The purpose of this 150,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility is to serve Northern Nevada with all levels of service and parts support on the largest to the smallest of Komatsu machines. We anticipate to construct an additional warehouse facility in the coming years if we are able to obtain the necessary capital funding. That would potentially encompass additional 45,000 square feet of warehouse, increasing the total square feet of our facility to 190,000-195,000.
What are Komatsu’s fastest-growing products in Nevada?
Our HD785 haul truck (100 ton) and WA800 and WA900 are becoming a popular combination for the smaller mining operations and mining contractors. Technology products are also in demand as mining operations want to be more efficient along with helping them to reduce their overall greenhouse gases.
Can you tell us about Komatsu’s new Mining Technology Solutions team and provide some insight into the company’s latest technologies?
In August 2021, we announced the creation of the Mining Technology Solutions (MTS) team, which brings together experts from across our businesses to focus on rapid technology advancement. This new business unit includes the Modular Mining brand, a Komatsu technology brand focused on real-time digital offerings that are compatible with all makes of equipment. For example, the MTS has been developing our new Intellimine Synergy open-technology platform. Its goal is to collect, integrate and process data in real time, offering customers a single source of actionable insights through an open-technology platform that brings together data from all relevant Komatsu, Modular Mining, and third-party machines, mining processes, systems, and technology applications. This solution seeks to provide a single source of real-time information that can assist, automate, and help optimize the important decisions customers make every day.
In addition, Komatsu and several of its customers recently formed the Komatsu Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Alliance. The founding members of the alliance are Rio Tinto, BHP, Codelco, and Boliden. We will actively collaborate on product planning, development, testing, and deployment of the next generation of zero-emission mining equipment and infrastructure. The alliance’s initial target is advancing Komatsu’s power agnostic truck concept for a haulage vehicle that can run on a variety of power sources including diesel electric, electric, trolley (wired), battery power, and even hydrogen fuel cells.
How are customers in Nevada responding to Komatsu’s technologies?
Customers in Nevada have been responding very well to our technologies. Our technology systems are used to track both maintenance and production data remotely along with assisting in operator performance. We also have customers requesting information on our autonomous haulage systems technology for their future mine plan outlooks.
Can you give us an overview of Komatsu’s autonomous and semiautonomous machinery?
We have designed an automation roadmap to enable mines to progress from fully manual to autonomous operation. This can happen by leveraging an open supervisory system that communicates with all machines, makes, and models, allowing for mixed fleets and for staffed equipment to operate alongside unstaffed equipment. The progression starts with manual operation, with a human operator fully responsible for all functions. The roadmap moves in stages through increasing levels of autonomy until it reaches the fully autonomous state.
We are currently finishing the development of our semi-autonomous PC7000-11, a 700-ton-class hydraulic excavator with teleoperation, and we plan to trial the concept machine at a customer site in 2022. We also have several products related with autonomous haulage, autonomous water trucks, autonomous drilling solutions, underground soft rock automation, and automated cutting.