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Survey confirms Komatsu reliability

Survey confirms the success of Komatsu lift trucks, which stand out for their design, reliability and high rate of productivity

50 clients in 6 European countries were analysed
during D-Evaluation:

2 R&D and Sales teams from Komatsu Forklift Japan and Europe made a field survey of the preliminary results of the AX50 and BX50 series

Milan, October 18th, 2006 – Komatsu Division, the head office of Komatsu Forklift in Europe, a producer and marketer of lift trucks, has announced the results of a week-long survey promoted by Komatsu Forklift and carried out by two teams of Komatsu personnel, from both Japan and Europe, with a panel of 50 clients located in six European countries – Portugal, the UK, France, the Netherlands, Romania and Hungary. The survey focused on a range of product types from the AX50 and BX50 Komatsu lift truck lines, which had all clocked up at least 500 hours of operation.

The results of the survey beat all expectations and confirmed the enthusiasm of the company's clients for the AX50-BX50 lift trucks – the spearheads of the 1.5- ton to 3.5-ton diesel and LPG range – which made their market debut in 2005 and currently power more than 50% of the sales generated by Komatsu Division in Europe.

The Komatsu survey, called D-Evaluation, is the last part of the four-phase product development process:

1. A-Evaluation, project feasibility analysis and marketing study

2. B-Evaluation, development of the prototype

3. C-Evaluation, preproduction and production

4. D-Evaluation, field survey 7-18 months after production rollout.

D-Evaluation consists of an on-the-ground survey of the truck after a minimum 500-600 hours of use and has the objective of revealing any problems related to quality, assembly or product-specific defects. The evaluation is carried out through personal meetings with the purchasing managers, the distributors, the dealers and the effective users of the trucks, to record their impressions.

After the surveys carried out in Japan, Asia and Russia, it was the turn of Europe, where D-Evaluation also provided an opportunity for the Japanese parent company to check the production processes of the European facilities.

The two Komatsu teams (made up of a Research&Development/Quality manager and a Marketing manager, who flew in from the head office in Japan; Rory Harvey-Kelly, General Manager Sales Department of Komatsu Division and a representative from the local Komatsu importer) took seven days to visit about 50 client representatives qualified to express an opinion on the Komatsu products, comparing these with the earlier range or rival products. The countries chosen by Komatsu for carrying out D-Evaluation have markets that feature highly diverse sales trends: Portugal is a country apart as it is based on the direct sale of the trucks; the UK, France and the Netherlands are markets where the truck-leasing culture prevails; while, Romania and Hungary are countries with high growth potential, where the market is seeing a growing shift from mainly the purchasing to the leasing of lift trucks.

The evaluation process itself was organised in two separate phases:

• the first phase involved handing out a client questionnaire with open questions on the sales network, the reasons for purchase and the type of marketing support that contributed to their purchase (brochure, presentation, website, dealer visits, word of mouth, etc.);

• the second phase distributed the questionnaire to the end-users, those who operate Komatsu trucks on a daily basis, with the objective of getting feedback and comments on consumption, functioning, comfort and the practical use of the machine.

D-Evaluation highlighted the opinions and experiences of Komatsu clients, who affirmed their satisfaction with the quality, reliability, productivity and handling of the lift trucks. This confirmation has factually concretised the success of Komatsu's commitment to the design and crafting of a product that is perfectly in tune with the needs of the European market: indeed, Komatsu lift trucks are valued by the company's European customers for their ease of control and operation, for the speed with which they handle materials, their comfort – thanks to the spacious driver's cabin and the low level of vibration – and for their high rates of productivity.

In summary, the D-Evaluation survey gave the company an opportunity to analyse and study in the field the quality and specifications of the current product and thus to draw up the blueprint for designing the next model.

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