A century of celebration… How Komatsu has developed over the past century and looking to the next 100 years

Following Komatsu’s celebration of its 100th anniversary on May 13, 2021, it is rolling out a series of activities over the following 12 months centred around the company’s commitment to its new brand promise of ‘creating value together’.

Originally established in 1921 by the visionary Meitaro Takeuchi in Komatsu City, Japan, to sustain the surrounding community after the closure of a nearby copper mine, Komatsu has spent the past century dedicated to its founding principles of quality first, technology and manufacturing innovation, global reach and people development.

Over the past century, its continued investment in core capabilities and strategic acquisitions have connected smart, diverse people and cutting-edge technologies with a shared belief that partnerships are the best way to solve challenges and meet society’s needs.

The company’s development since its establishment has closely mirrored the rise of the global earthmoving and mining equipment sectors.

Komatsu Auckland staff celebrating the 100 year anniversary

For its first 40 years, Komatsu almost exclusively focussed on dozer manufacture and development, while building a reputation for a manufacturer of high quality equipment. And the first Komatsu dozers in New Zealand appeared during the late 1950s.

From the late 1960s, Komatsu expanded into a full-line earthmoving equipment manufacturer, adding wheel loaders and other types in the following decades.

In March 1981, the company transformed its product line with the Japanese designed and built PC Dash 1 range of excavators – which marked its arrival as a serious contender in supplying a full line of earthmoving equipment.

Komatsu excavators quickly established a reputation as economical, productive diggers.

During the 1960s, Komatsu equipment began to establish a reputation for performance and reliability throughout New Zealand and Australia

As well as growing organically through research and product development, Komatsu went on the acquisition trail to build its business. Purchases included Dresser Industries’ grader and mining truck business, Demag’s mining excavator technology and major US-based Joy Global mining equipment manufacturer – rebranded as Komatsu Mining Corporation.

In construction, it is now on its second generation of hybrid excavators which are delivering industry-leading levels of fuel savings, while its growing Intelligent Machine Control (iMC) range of dozers and excavators are bringing new levels of productivity.

As it heads into its second century, the company aims to build on its reputation for fuel efficient, low emissions technology, as well as a commitment to moving towards a carbon neutral environment.

Initiatives include its successful hybrid excavator lineup, first introduced over 10 years ago, a recently unveiled all-electric mini excavator prototype, and a collaborative alliance with major mining companies to develop zero emission mining trucks.

Latest intelligent machine control (iMC) dozer

It’s also setting new standards in project, site and machine management, through developments such as Komtrax remote monitoring, its ‘Smartconstruction’ project management system and its iSite quarry and major project visualisation solution.

Throughout its New Zealand and Australian operations, Komatsu is also underscoring its commitment to diversity through the increasing employment of women, Pacifica and Indigenous people and those from non-English speaking backgrounds. For the first time, its 2021 apprentice intake was over 50% female.