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One-stop shopping is a concept everybody knows from the retail world. For Komatsu this same idea is the key to getting more customers to engage with GPS/GNSS earthmoving technology.
Last week at its Cartersville, Georgia demonstration facility, Komatsu unveiled a program it calls “Smart Construction.” And though it shares the name of Komatsu’s radical drone-assisted, automated equipment service launched last year in Japan, the U.S. version of Smart Construction is basically a one-stop service to bolster the company’s intelligent Machine Control lineup, offering comprehensive training and support for anything and everything related to GPS/GNSS earthmoving operations.
Alongside its demonstration of Smart Construction, Komatsu introduced an expansion of their GPS/GNSS-ready machines, which now includes six intelligent control dozers and three excavators. For more on the dozers—including a fully-autonomous, remote control dozer—see our article here. To read about the GPS/GNSS controlled excavators, see this.
At the heart of Komatsu’s Smart Construction strategy is a new type of dealer employee—the TSE or technical solutions specialist—and its expanding line of intelligent control machines.
With a single phone call to your Komatsu TSE you can arrange for a demonstration of a GPS/GNSS machine, acquire the GPS/GNSS factory-ready machine and peripheral hardware (base stations, rovers, etc.), have the TSE to set up your first jobsite and get training for your operators. The TSE’s can also help you with trouble shooting, give you recommendations for best practices, get your site plans digitized for import into the machine monitors and even get an aerial survey of your site using drones/UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles).
“If you are new to machine control, you don’t just need a machine,” says Jason Anetsberger, senior product manager. “You need data in that machine. Maybe you need a base station and rover, and a trained operator. In our model of support, all this is just a single phone call away. We’ll take you from being a non-user of machine control technology all the way to having a full set up without having to purchase any additional product or hire additional staff.”
The TSE service and support model can also be used when you need to rent an intelligent control machine or set up a GPS/GNSS site far from your home base.
We spoke with Bruce McKown, a TSE and business manager for Komatsu dealer Midlantic Machinery. You can get a better idea of a TSE’s day-to-day and training in the above video.
Komatsu designed its machine control systems to issue data and reports via Komtrax, the company’s telematics system. “Instead of waiting for someone to drive out to your site to troubleshoot a problem, the TSEs can remotely connect with any of these intelligent machines and solve the problem,” says Anetsberger. The machines come with a cellular modem as standard, and your TSEs can review data about your usage patterns and make recommendations on how to optimize your use of 2D and 3D GPS/GNSS.
TSEs are dealer employees, and the company started training and putting them into the field in 2013 with the introduction of its first intelligent control dozer. Today, dealers must have a TSE on board to sell Komatsu’s intelligent machines. “It takes more than just product to make this work,” says Peter Robson, director of Intelligent Machine Control.
The TSEs combine construction and machine knowledge with three weeks of initial training on technology and 2D and 3D machine control operations, says Robson. That’s followed by advanced training and continuing education, including a lot of informal networking with other TSEs.
In the past when technology was sold and supported by the aftermarket, the experts tended to be independent and isolated from each other, Robson says. But Komatsu’s TSEs have created their own network and regularly compare notes and help each other find solutions via conference calls, he says.