Komatsu 100 years of "Creating Value Together"
Komatsu continues to shape the future of construction and mining operations as it celebrates its 100th anniversary
One hundred years ago, Komatsu City, Japan, faced a potential crisis with the closure of a nearby copper mine that was a vital source of jobs. Meitaro Takeuchi, an entrepreneur dedicated to advancing educational opportunities and improving mine efficiency, knew there had to be a way to save the livelihoods of the community members who relied on the mine.
In 1917, he established Komatsu Iron Works, a machinery company for maintaining mining equipment. In 1921, Takeuchi and a group of investors founded Komatsu Ltd., which began producing cast steel products, providing new employment to those who had been dependent on the now-depleted mine. The first product, produced in 1924, was a one-cylinder sheet-forming machine.
While Komatsu continues to manufacture industrial presses, over the past 100 years it has expanded its portfolio of products to include forklifts as well as construction and mining equipment. The first machine Komatsu shipped outside of Japan was in 1955, when it sent a motor grader to Argentina. A Komatsu dozer arrived in North America in 1964, marking the company’s presence in that market.
Komatsu celebrated its official 100th anniversary on May 13, 2021. Throughout the next year, there will be a series of activities focused on the company’s commitment to its new brand promise of “creating value together.” That value will be created “through manufacturing and technology innovation to empower a sustainable future where people, businesses and our planet thrive together,” according to Komatsu.
The company added that its core values include:
• Ambition: With a ‘challenging spirit’ and without fear of failure, we innovate and always aspire to do more.
• Perseverance: Even when the work is difficult, we remain committed to our promises and reliably carry them through to completion.
• Collaboration: Creating value comes from teamwork, inclusion, respect, diversity and a win-win approach to all relationships.
• Authenticity: To earn and maintain trust, we always act with sincerity, integrity and honesty, and communicate transparently.
Back in 1902, prior to founding Komatsu Ltd., Takeuchi was already helping the community and mine employees by taking over operations at the copper mine. He funded projects to mechanize processes and teach new skills to the people. Takeuchi established schools, sent staff overseas to learn the latest techniques, and purchased machines to improve efficiency. He funded and supported a science and engineering department at a university in Tokyo, as well as a local industrial school to significantly advance educational opportunities and options in the rural areas near Komatsu City.
As Takeuchi and his team worked to grow operations, he remained true to his principles: quality first, technology innovation, globalization and the development of people.
“As we expanded around the world, we leveraged the strengths of global production while nurturing local leadership and creating value for the customers we serve, investing in every community and supporting society where we worked. With each challenge faced, Komatsu teams pushed forward together, working to innovate, diversify into new markets and expand globally,” Komatsu’s origin story states.
Takeuchi’s innovative spirit can still be seen today. Komatsu pioneered autonomous technology and has had driverless trucks in mines around the world since 2008, and by July 2020, over 3 billion metric tons had been hauled autonomously. It brought integrated GPS to dozers and excavators with intelligent Machine Control to help operators get to grade faster with less staking and without masts or cables. It introduced complimentary, scheduled maintenance and tools such as My Komatsu to provide more efficient fleet management. To help customers manage projects from preconstruction to project closeout, increase productivity and efficiency, and digitize the job site, Komatsu is rolling out its suite of Smart Construction solutions.
“In our next 100 years, Komatsu will focus on supporting the mining, construction, forestry, industrial machinery and agriculture industries in their transformations to the digital workplace of the future: equipment and people, connected through smart technologies on an open platform, driving towards zero harm, zero waste and zero emissions. By helping to digitize job sites worldwide, our customers can optimize on-site operations towards a carbon-neutral environment,” the company stated.
Long-term sustainability efforts
Takeuchi’s vision and strong guiding principles stood the test of time. Through the years, Komatsu’s 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.
“Komatsu’s philosophy is passed down from generation to generation through our principles, strategies, The Komatsu Way and the belief that Corporate Social Responsibility is part of our core business and the value we create,” the company said. “In regions across the globe, Komatsu continues to provide products and solutions which address social needs and give back to communities where we do business by leveraging the skills and the passion of our people. We seek to play an active role in supporting the long-term success of society through sustainable efforts that reach far beyond Komatsu.
“From our founding city to the global community in which we operate today, we know we are stronger when we are creating value together.”