Having suppliers on site is a major benefit for Komatsu.

Newcastle’s legacy as the powerhouse of the UK’s Industrial Revolution continues today, as the city and its surroundings are still a leading manufacturing hub in England. Komatsu, a mining, construction and utility equipment specialist, is one of the area’s major manufacturers, and for over 18 years, WWL ALS has acted as an in-house supplier to Komatsu, offering logistics support from the moment the machines roll off the factory line.“As soon as the production team sign the blue ‘quality passed’ sticker on a Komatsu machine, we step in,” says WWL ALS UK General Manager, Andrew Civil.

“We work with the production line to do a final set of physical checks – recording key information; checking track sizes and machine width; what attachments are fitted? Is there any sign of damage? Is everything locked and secured? We also do the driver’s checks so that we’re confident the equipment is ready for transportation.

”At the same time, the rest of the WWL ALS onsite team will prepare all the necessary paperwork, ensure the correct parts, books and owner’s manuals accompany the equipment, place the keys in the machine and work with other WWL ALS offices to double-check the mode of transportation and route. Then the item of equipment is ready for transportation to Europe and beyond – including markets in French Polynesia, North Africa and America.

“Having suppliers on site is a major benefit for Komatsu,” says Elizabeth Burton, Komatsu’s Senior Manager of Production Control. “It gives us access to specialist experience and expertise, allowing us to concentrate on our core competency, which is quality manufacturing. This means we maximise the effectiveness of our operation.

“We expect WWL ALS to provide the correct transport and the most appropriate route – whether it’s by road or ocean. And it is for them to ensure that our machines arrive quickly and safely and that they adhere to regulatory requirements.”Komatsu has allowed WWL ALS room to continually grow the logistics services offered. What started as purely a transportation service now includes stock management and ordering of machine manuals and parts books, parts shipments and returns and document parcel deliveries.

“By giving WWL ALS our non-value-added tasks, such as stock management of manuals and parts books and dispatch checks, we’ve improved control and efficiency in the dispatch process,” says Burton.

This long-term working relationship is described as a “partnership” by Burton, who says that it is all about collaboration. “When we talk about cost reductions or route changes, it is not only that we’re tasking WWL ALS to go away and meet the task; they come to us with improvements and proposals backed up by data, so we can have a meaningful discussion. It is very much a case of us moving in the same direction. They’re committed to the same business goals as we are and because of their expertise in heavy haulage, they’re able to offer valuable advice in most situations.”Civil adds: “We’re continually trying to add value to our relationship with Komatsu, and I am very proud that people at Komatsu view WWL ALS as a source of competence and information, asking for our opinion on any logistics query.”

“It’s a dynamic and effective relationship,” continues Burton. “We’re able to agree face to face on the status of any shipment, the preparedness of our machines or the readiness of the transport.Their involvement means greater predictability and reliability, and contributes to one of our most important key measures: on time delivery.”Since Burton joined Komatsu eight years ago, she’s seen the on time delivery rate rise consistently.“We agree with WWL ALS on the date that the machine will leave site, and 99–100 per cent of the time, our machines leave on that day. And for a manufacturer of such complex products, I think that’s truly exceptional. WWL ALS is an important part of that achievement.”

1986: The Komatsu - WWL ALS relationship goes back to 1986, when ALS started working with Komatsu. 

2012: In 2012, WWL acquired a majority stake in ALS (Abnormal Load Services) to extend its service offering in the rolling equipment and project cargo segment.